A battle looms for Marib in Yemen’s north, home to some three million people as well as major oil and gas facilities. International actors must stave off a humanitarian disaster, as they did in Hodeida in 2018, and then turn toward brokering a wider settlement.
Originally published in Yemen Policy Center
Outgoing U.S. administration designated Huthi group and leaders as terrorists, potentially imperilling aid and diplomatic efforts and risking Huthi retaliation. In one of its final acts in office, outgoing U.S. Trump administration 11 Jan designated Huthi movement as Foreign Terrorist Organisation and Specially Designated Global Terrorist entity, and three top leaders as Specially Designated Global Terrorists, all of which came into force on 19 Jan. Move comes after Huthis early Jan warned of “reciprocal responses” to designation; possible retaliation in Feb could include ban on contact with U.S. citizens, freezing communication channels with UN, and cross-border attacks on Saudi Arabia and maritime traffic in Red Sea. UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator Mark Lowcock 14 Jan warned designation would precipitate “a large-scale famine on a scale that we have not seen for nearly 40 years” while UN Special Envoy Martin Griffiths same day warned it would have “chilling effect” on his efforts to mediate end to conflict. Speaking at his 19 Jan Senate confirmation hearing, incoming U.S. Sec State Anthony Blinken promised to immediately review designation and launch review of Yemen policy; new U.S. Biden administration 25 Jan approved all transactions involving Huthis for one month while designation faces review, and next day announced temporary pause on arms sales to Saudi Arabia. Meanwhile, fighting continued along Yemen’s major front lines in Hodeida, al-Dhale and Marib governorates; intense clashes were reported along Red Sea coast in first two weeks of month, prompting UN mission 7 Jan to issue statement of concern after wedding hall 1 Jan was hit during fighting, reportedly killing five. Huthis 17 Jan reportedly launched projectile into Saudi Arabia that hitvillage in southern Jazan region, injuring three civilians; Huthis denied responsibility of 23 Jan missile attack on Riyadh (see Saudi Arabia). In south, tensions rose between Southern Transitional Council (STC) and govt after President Hadi 15 Jan appointed former PM Ahmed Obeid bin Daghr as head of Shura Council without consulting STC, which accused govt of breaching Nov 2019 Riyadh Agreement.
Yemen’s terrible war grinds on, despite a COVID-19 epidemic that has deepened what was already the world’s worst humanitarian crisis. Stopping the fighting is urgent. Diplomats should adopt an inclusive, multiparty framework for talks to replace today’s flawed model.
A Huthi offensive threatens to engulf Marib, a province controlled by Yemen’s internationally recognised government and full of internally displaced people. Outside powers should act now to halt the fighting, which could deepen the existing humanitarian crisis and ruin peace efforts elsewhere in the country.
The UN General Assembly kicks off on 17 September amid general scepticism about the world body’s effectiveness in an era of rising great-power competition. But the UN is far from paralysed. Here are seven crisis spots where it can make a positive difference for peace.
Yemen’s anti-Huthi coalition has begun to splinter, with sharp fighting between Saudi- and Emirati-backed elements in the country’s south. With UN assistance, the Gulf monarchies should urgently broker a ceasefire as a prelude to an expanded peace process encompassing southern secessionists and others now excluded.
The UN-brokered Stockholm Agreement to stop fighting around Yemen’s Red Sea city of Hodeida is faltering as violence on other front lines and across the Saudi border escalates. The UN and P5 should stabilise the Stockholm Agreement and push conflict parties toward national peace talks.
Two successive U.S. administrations have backed the Saudi-led coalition’s intervention in Yemen, helping deepen the world’s worst humanitarian crisis. Congress should continue pressing the White House to end this support, while working to strengthen its war powers role in the future.
The prospect of the coronavirus spreading in Yemen offers a moment and indeed a humanitarian imperative to revive a political process.
Implementing a cease-fire [between Saudi Arabia and Yemen] is no small matter, and the first test of this is going to be whether the parties show up for this virtual meeting.
Now [Yemen's] fate is linked to a much bigger picture in a three-dimensional chess game.
[The Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula] hasn’t posed the kind of threat to the West it did a decade ago in a number of years.
For now, neither the Houthis nor the Saudis wish to abandon the talks, but the de-escalation process is under severe strain.
A successful agreement [between the Yemeni government and southern secessionists] would keep a lid on violence long enough to allow progress in other parts of the country.
This week on Hold Your Fire!, Rob Malley and Naz Modirzadeh talk with New York Times cybersecurity reporter Sheera Frenkel about the role that social media platforms played in the mob assault on the U.S. Capitol and the ways that online disinformation fuels conflict worldwide.
In this week’s episode of Hold Your Fire!, Aaron Miller, a veteran U.S. diplomat, unpacks President Trump’s unconventional foreign relations with our President Rob Malley and co-host Naz Modirzadeh, a Harvard professor of international law and armed conflict.
In this podcast series, Crisis Group President Rob Malley and Board Member Naz Modirzadeh, a Harvard professor of international law and armed conflict, dive deep into the conflicts that rage around the globe, along with Crisis Group field analysts and special guests. This week, they discuss U.S. support for the Yemen war and the absence of the Palestinian issue from the normalisation agreement among Israel, the UAE and Bahrain. Crisis Group's Senior Analyst for Ethiopia, Will Davison, also joins them to discuss the challenges facing Ethiopia.
Online Event to discuss International Crisis Group's report "Rethinking Peace in Yemen".