The Saudi-led military intervention in Yemen threatens to turn what has been a civil war between competing branches of Islam into a wider regional struggle involving Iran. It could also destroy any hope of stability in Yemen. Even before the Saudis and their Arab allies started the bombing, Yemen was in severe distress; on Tuesday, the United Nations high commissioner for human rights warned that it is now on the brink of collapse.
The UN special envoy to Yemen, Jamal Benomar, has warned that the country may be on the brink of civil war and accused all sides of contributing to the political and economic turmoil. Yemen is slipping further into chaos as the Houthis, an Iranian-backed Shia group from the north, consolidate their grip on power after seizing the capital in September and sidelining the central government.
Yemen's Houthi rebels have captured a key city linking the capital to the south as they push to control more territory of the country. The Shia fighters captured the strategic central city of Radmah in Ibb province on Wednesday, a city that links Sanaa with the main southern city of Aden, after prolonged fighting with local tribesmen, the AFP news agency reported.
Yemen's southern secessionists will revive plans for independence amid internal divisions and Houthi ascendency. According to analysts, pro-independence activists are probably right to be suspicious of the Houthis. "The Houthis are consolidating in the north, not only to serve their own interests, but to help consolidate Yemen under only one centre of power," Fernando Carvajal, a US-based Yemen analyst, told Al Jazeera. "Every actor wants and needs to rule over a unified Yemen. It is the only political solution that would give any successor [to the current government] legitimacy and authority."
Deadly clashes have broken out between Zaidi Shia rebels and Sunni Salafist gunmen in northern Yemen, a security official has said, as anti-government protests continued across the nation. Heavy fighting erupted on Thursday morning in the northern Hajjah province between rebel gunmen, known as Houthis, and Sunni fighters, the local official told news agencies.
The unrest shaking Yemen began months ago as part of the idealistic movement for democracy and political reform sweeping the Middle East. It is now a battle of money, power and egos within a single powerful clan that threatens to tear the country apart.
Yemen appeared to tip closer to all out civil war on Wednesday as government troops and opposition tribesmen battled to control key positions in the capital and foreign diplomats boarded planes to flee.
A tenuous truce declared a few days ago to end street fighting in the Yemeni capital between tribal groups and forces loyal to Ali Abdullah Saleh, the embattled president, has broken down, sending the country closer to the brink of civil war.
Yemeni president Ali Abdullah Saleh says that he will not be dragged into a civil war, despite clashes between government forces and fighters loyal to the leader of a powerful tribal group who has sided with protesters seeking to oust him from power.
Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh has said there could be a civil war in Yemen because of attempts to stage what he called a coup against his rule. "Those who want to climb up to power through coups should know that this is out of the question. The homeland will not be stable, there will be a civil war, a bloody war," he said.