The Complexities of the Yemen Crisis

I wrote this as extra credit for one of my classes.

I attended “The Yemeni Conundrum: Who is who, dynamics, and the way out,” presented by the visiting physics professor Dr. Mustafa Bahran. He first explained the history of the conflict and offered several common explanations for why the conflict exists. The legitimate government is fighting a rebel group led by leaders of the former government. One theory says that the conflict arises from dissension between Muslim sects, as one group believes that they are entitled to lead because they are descendents of Mohammed while the other believes they are entitled by the vote of the people. Another theory says that it stems from a conflict of interest between the north and the south, as the south is rarely represented in the government, and the only southern official was recently forcibly removed from office. Yet another theory claims that it is simply a power struggle between the new, legitimate government and the old one that is not content with giving up its power.

Dr. Bahran believes it is really a combination of all these factors. However, the situation is not quite as simple as it may seem. He also claimed that the one thing the two groups have in common is that they include thieves and war lords. And beyond that, the groups supporting each position are also giving aid to the opposing side as well. Ultimately, leaders of both groups do not have any desire for the war to end because they are profiting from the war, so there will be no winners in the end except the crooks. Because of this, Dr. Bahran concluded that the only way the war will end is by some form of outside intervention, either by a global super power or by a divine power.

While the talk was certainly interesting, I had hoped that he would incorporate his physics background a bit more. Occasionally, he did relate the dynamics of the situation to physical dynamics, but he probably could have gone a bit further with the analogy. I would like to ask him how his academic background may have influenced his view of the situation in comparison to how the uneducated population of Yemen may view it. I also wonder how an outside global power could possibly help this situation when such intervention has generally proven to be more harmful than helpful in the past.