With the negotiations between various parties underway in Kuwait and just over one year since the outbreak of hostilities, perhaps it is time to evaluate the conflict in Yemen.
If we were to rely solely on media reports, in English or those in Arabic, we would be fooled into thinking that the war was just as real as that in Syria, or perhaps akin to Libya but with an air component. This is not the case.
The war does not pit Sunni against Shia
The war does not include ground troops from the Gulf
There is no siege imposed by the Gulf and allied nations (US, Australian, UK navy etc)
Yes, the Gulf coalition does bomb Yemen from the air but there has not been a wholesale destruction of infrastructure. There are not hundreds of civilians dying from Saudi air strikes.
After 13 months of this war total dead stands at an estimated 6,000 people. Most of those are armed combatants from both sides.
If there were a real land and naval blockade of Yemen then we would have seen a humanitarian disaster on a vast scale. There would have been many thousands, possibly hundreds of thousands of dead from famine by this point. Yemen is a country fast running out of water. Much of the remaining water lies deep beneath the surface and to extract it you need a pump. The pump needs diesel which, until now, is heavily subsidized by the state. This means all villages and most towns would rapidly run out of water for drinking and irrigation if there was an actual siege.
Additionally, the Saudis have ensured that the exchange rate of the Yemeni rial has held up by making sure they back the central bank with hard currency. If the rial spiraled out of control then no one would be able to afford staple foodstuffs. In this poor country, more in common with sub-saharan Africa than the Arab world, people would soon expire.
The question is why the Saudis would want to do this. The answer is that they first of all do not wish to be responsible for a famine, nor do they want to see thousands of Yemenis escaping death by walking into Saudi Arabia. They also have adopted a tactic of a steady squeeze on the Huthi and Ali Abdallah Saleh coalition. They prefer to negotiate slowly and carefully with the major tribes in the north, bringing them onto side with a mixture of financial incentives and political reality. The system will not change, they say, but those who wield power will.