Ongoing tensions in Yemen continue to spill over into other parts of the Gulf, making for a volatile pilgrimage season in the region.
One Qatari official, Emir Tamim Bin Hamad Al Thani, is asking countries that have by some accounts waged a proxy war in Yemen to try to stay good neighbors, to tamp down conflict over the annual hajj, which requires travel to Saudi Arabia.
A Sept. 13 press release said Al Thani took part in a telephone call with the Iranian president to try to smooth tensions involving downgraded diplomatic relationships between Iran and some Gulf Coast countries.
Al Thani's overture revolved around the mutual celebration of Eid al-Adha. The diplomacy effort came as the Gulf Times reported the death of three Qatari soldiers in Yemen.
Reports show that Qatar began to deploy ground troops one year ago, with an air campaign in March 2015.
The United Nations estimated total collateral damage at approximately 6,500 people.
The regional conflict is something those in other parts of the world may find hard to understand.
“It's a mess.” Dr. Edmund Herod, who has lived in the Gulf Coast region as an administrator for the Houston Community College’s satellite campus in Doha, told the Gulf News Journal.
Herod has lived in the Gulf Coast region, as an administrator for the Houston Community College’s satellite campus in Doha, and holds a doctorate in political science.
Herod said that when he lived in the Middle East, the conflict was just beginning, as the Houthi rebel groups started to cause destabilization in Yemen. “They were responsible for upsetting the apple cart.” Herod said, adding that the rebel groups were sponsored by Iran.
Herod said the situation is fueled by disagreements between Sunni and Shia Muslims. On the other hand, he said, tribalism has a lot to do with the situation as well.
“There are tribes all over the Middle East.” Herod said, describing a system that is more politically decentralized than many would immediately understand. However, he added, ignoring the religious element would be a mistake.
“You can't exclude religion from it.” Herod said.
In addition, he described Yemen as an inherently charged environment where civilians often walk around armed with high-powered AK-47 rifles.
Some in the American press tend to see the struggle in Yemen as a conflict between more moderate Muslims and more militant groups such as al-Qaida and affiliated groups that are bent on hurting the Western world.
“It goes much deeper than that.” Herod said.
As citizens all over the region continue to struggle with a conflict with various local epicenters, various parties continue to call for peace, such as U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, who wished all Muslims of every sect a blessed Eid.
“At a time when societies face complex challenges – violent conflict, displacement, division – let us draw on our common humanity to build a better world for all,” Ban said.