The Economist reports: The start of this month may well come to be seen as the moment that Yemen descended into a prolonged and uncontrollable war. The conflict in the desperately poor nation was already going horribly badly. But the Saudi-led coalition fighting the country’s Houthi rebels has now intensified its campaign, after 60 of its soldiers were killed in a single attack in Maarib on September 4th.
More troops have poured in since the attack. Saudi Arabia dispatched more elite forces to join the 3,000-strong coalition force already on the ground, while Qatar, hitherto only participating in air operations, has sent 1,000 soldiers. Egypt, which has long warned of the folly of putting boots on the ground given its disastrous intervention in the 1960s, this week sent in 800 men. Sudanese troops are reportedly waiting to be shipped out of Khartoum. Bahrain’s King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa said his two sons will join the battle.
The coalition has since unleashed an unprecedented flurry of air strikes in both the northern governorate of Saada, the stronghold of the Houthi rebels, and the country’s capital, Sana’a. Residents say as many civilian as military targets are being hit, including houses, restaurants and main streets. “The coalition has gone wacko since the attack,” says Hassan Boucenine, who heads the Yemen office of Médicins sans Frontières, a charity. [Continue reading…]