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Yemen

CrisisWatch Yemen

Unchanged Situation

Resolution Opportunity

Saudi airstrikes against Iran-aligned Huthi forces in north reduced in intensity and scope, and Yemeni govt and southern separatists made headway in Saudi-mediated talks, creating opportunity to avoid further hostilities in south and pivot to national level peace talks. Saudi Arabia responded positively to Huthis’ Sept unilateral ceasefire, largely limiting airstrikes to front-line positions and, reportedly at Riyadh’s request, Yemeni govt 16 Oct allowed eight fuel shipments to enter Huthi-administered port of Hodeida. Saudi airstrike in Saada province in north 21 Oct killed five civilians. After Huthis’ unilateral prisoner release in Sept, Huthis 10 Oct proposed prisoner swap with govt, which has not yet responded. In south, sporadic fighting continued in Abyan and Shebwa governorates between govt forces and southern separatist groups including Southern Transitional Council (STC). But in Saudi capital Riyadh, negotiations to end rift between Saudi-backed Yemeni govt and UAE-backed STC advanced toward signing of so-called Riyadh Agreement (formerly known as Jeddah Agreement) that would see southerners gain equal representation with northerners in govt and place in future peace talks with Huthis. Govt repeatedly postponed signing ceremony due to differences over selection of interior and defence ministers, govt’s demand that UAE withdraw completely from south and request for security-first sequencing of implementation. Fighting between govt forces and STC escalated in Abyan province 31 Oct prompting parties to postpone signing of Riyadh Agreement without setting new date. Saudi forces progressively took control of Aden in south during month as UAE forces withdrew, completing withdrawal 30 Oct. Saudis brought in new troops and equipment 26 Oct. Huthi forces 29 Oct attacked convoy transporting defence minister in Marib province in centre, killing two soldiers.

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Reports & Briefings

In The News

27 Oct 2019
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. Financial Times

April Longley Alley

Deputy Program Director, Middle East and North Africa
2 Oct 2019
It has been politically more convenient to lay the blame for Houthis at Iran’s door than to say that the Houthis’ rise was the product of a series of internal political miscalculations and misplaced international priorities. Foreign Policy

Peter Salisbury

Senior Analyst, Yemen
18 Sep 2019
Without a political settlement, Yemen threatened to play a role as a trigger or to become embroiled in a wider regional conflict, in particular if a Houthi or Houthi-claimed attack was successful. Financial Times

Peter Salisbury

Senior Analyst, Yemen
11 Aug 2019
The UAE and Saudi Arabia have allied with distinct Yemeni partners. Yet to this point in the conflict, Abu Dhabi and Riyadh have worked to maintain a relative detente between competing interests in the south. Reuters

Elizabeth Dickinson

Senior Analyst, Colombia
11 Aug 2019
The problem right now from the perspective of ending the [Yemen] war is that Saudi Arabia and to an extent the Trump administration are unwilling to do so without a tangible ‘win’ for Riyadh. Los Angeles Times

Peter Salisbury

Senior Analyst, Yemen
30 Jul 2019
[Al Qaida in Yemen has] become much more focused on integrating with local spheres and much less focused on the brand-name, big-ticket attacks. ABC News

Peter Salisbury

Senior Analyst, Yemen

Latest Updates

EU Watch List / Global

Watch List 2019 – Third Update

Watch List Updates complement International Crisis Group’s annual Watch List, most recently published in January 2019. These early-warning publications identify major conflict situations in which prompt action, driven or supported by the European Union and its member states, would generate stronger prospects for peace. The third update to the Watch List 2019 includes entries on Afghanistan, Nicaragua, Sudan and Yemen.

After the Aramco Attack: A Middle East One Step Closer to Its “1914 Moment”

On 14 September, strikes of uncertain provenance hit Saudi Arabia’s largest oil facilities, taking some 50 per cent of the kingdom’s oil production temporarily offline. Crisis Group offers a 360-degree view of the attacks and their implications for Middle Eastern and international peace and security.

Special Briefing / Global

Seven Opportunities for the UN in 2019-2020

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.

After Aden: Navigating Yemen’s New Political Landscape

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.

Also available in العربية

Preventing a Civil War within a Civil War in Yemen

Fighting within the anti-Huthi front threatens to make an already multi-faceted conflict even more complex and intractable. Clashes in Aden reveal tensions within the Saudi-led coalition and highlight the pressing need to address Yemen’s “southern question” now rather than wait until a post-conflict political transition.

Our People

April Longley Alley

Deputy Program Director, Middle East and North Africa

Peter Salisbury

Senior Analyst, Yemen
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