In May 1990, The Yemen Arab Republic (North Yemen) merged with the People’s Democratic Republic of Yemen (South Yemen) to form today’s contemporary state of Yemen. During the Yemen Uprising of 2011-12, thousands of pro-democracy protesters flocked to the streets to demand the resignation of the president. In September 2014, Ansar Allah, commonly referred to as the Houthis, seized control of Yemen’s capital.
In March 2015, a coalition of Gulf countries led by Saudi Arabia intervened on behalf of the Yemeni government, imposing a blockade and initiating a bombing campaign, for which the U.S. offered logistical and intelligence support. Both sides of the conflict have launched indiscriminate attacks on civilians, though the United Nations has pointed out that the Saudi-led bombing campaign is responsible for a majority of the civilian deaths in the conflict.
As a direct result of the war, Yemen is widely regarded as home to the worst humanitarian disaster in the world. The Saudi-led coalition’s targeting of food and water infrastructure, paired with the blockade, have contributed to multiple cholera outbreaks, and have helped drive millions of Yemenis to the brink of famine.
Before leaving office, the Trump administration designated the Houthis as a Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO) and Specially Designated Global Terrorist (SDGT), prompting serious concerns over humanitarian access and warnings of widespread famine. Citing those humanitarian concerns, the Biden administration reversed the designations. President Biden has also said that he is ending all U.S. support for offensive military operations in Yemen, though it is not clear exactly what forms of support are ongoing.