Yemen conflict: No end in sight, six months on

In an age of 24/7 news coverage, social media and videos going viral, the war in Yemen must rank as one of the most under-reported in recent times, despite a few brave visits by intrepid journalists and film crews.

Yemen can be a remote, difficult and dangerous country to cover, and that is in peace time.

Now, six months after Saudi-led air strikes against Iranian-backed Houthi rebels began on 26 March, the war in Yemen has taken a terrible toll on the Arab world’s poorest nation, with both sides accused of committing war crimes and most of the casualties being caused by the aerial bombing.

Long campaign

Six months into this war the situation is not quite a stalemate but both sides do appear increasingly entrenched.

The Houthi rebels, allied with forces loyal to the previous President Ali Abdullah Saleh, still occupy the capital, Sanaa, and much of the more heavily populated north and west of the country.

Fighting them are Yemeni forces loyal to the UN-recognised President Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi, who has just returned to the second city, Aden, after six months in exile in Saudi Arabia.

These forces are supported by a coalition of 5,000-7,500 Gulf Arab troops led by a Saudi Special Forces commander. They have total air supremacy, having destroyed the Houthi-controlled air force on the ground.

There have been several unsuccessful attempts to broker a peace deal in neighbouring Oman. These have failed over demands that the Houthis withdraw to their northern stronghold and the Houthi demand for more power-sharing and to integrate their forces into a future national army.

Saudi officials have told the BBC that if no deal can be reached soon then Gulf and Yemeni forces will surround Sanaa and overrun it. If the Houthis then chose to stay and fight the death toll amongst civilians would be catastrophic.

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