War in Yemen: Costs and Benefits to the United States
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The clash between the Houthis, a rebel group backed by former Yemeni President Saleh, and the Saudi-led coalition, invited by former Yemeni President Hadi, has blown out of proportion. What began as a domestic conflict for democracy and equality has turned into a regional proxy war that has affected the lives of millions in the worst humanitarian crisis the world has ever seen. One major key player in this conflict is the United States, who has been an indirect but influential actor, selling weapons and aiding the Saudi-led coalition in their campaign against a group they believe to be backed by Iran. This perception has caused the conflict to shift into a regional proxy war between Sunni and Shia, East and West. So, why is the United States involved in the Yemen conflict in the first place? How does this advance the American foreign policy agenda in the Middle East? What does the United States gain from the conflict and how much does it cost to remain involved? What are the consequences of such actions against another state’s civilians? To answer these questions, this thesis will examine the background that set the stage for the outbreak of war in Yemen and how each key player – Saudi Arabia and its coalition, the United States and Iran – are involved in the war. The thesis will also analyze the current role the United States plays in the conflict and how its involvement furthers its overall goals in the Middle East. By analyzing American involvement in the conflict, we will investigate what are the benefits and costs of American actions in Yemen as well as the consequences of her involvement on the international stage. The impact of this conflict, once it ends, will have long-lasting implications on American foreign policy towards the Middle East and may forever change how the United States approaches domestic conflicts abroad.