WHEN IT COMES TO YEMEN, there are dual realities. For Yemeni civilians living through the world’s worst humanitarian crisis, relief can’t come soon enough; along with the bombing and shelling from combatants, torture, cholera, and starvation are now bearing down with previously unthinkable urgency. But for those with power over the conflict—both in Yemen and abroad—“world’s worst humanitarian crisis” is less concrete. It’s an epithet to ignore, or a bargaining chip, or a distant problem, rather than a matter of life and death.
For much of the past year, as desperation reached new heights in Yemen, the gulf between these realities widened. In November 2017, Saudi Arabia, a major player in the conflict, made a strategic decision to tighten its stranglehold on the country, further restricting civilian access to food and aid; a year later, in November 2018, Yemen likely had its deadliest month of the war.
But over the past few weeks, much of that changed. In an opportune coincidence, parties to Yemen’s conflict convened on Capitol Hill and in a castle in Sweden—and in a matter of days, the military and geopolitical conditions were realigned, allowing room for hope. Now Yemen’s war is at a critical moment, and the fate of 28 million people hangs in the balance.