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Yemen

CrisisWatch Yemen

Deteriorated Situation

Resolution Opportunity

Fierce fighting between govt forces and Huthis continued in north while escalating struggle between govt forces and southern separatists threatened to unravel Nov 2019 Riyadh Agreement; UN continued efforts at nationwide ceasefire and Saudi Arabia attempted to mediate in south but risk of intensified violence in south and north in June remains high. In north, Saudi Arabia’s 24 April announced extension of its purported unilateral ceasefire failed to halt military activities as fighting between govt forces and Huthis continued in al-Jawf and Marib, as did Saudi airstrikes, albeit without major shifts in territorial control. Huthis’ advance east toward Marib remained stalled in face of resistance from local tribes. In south, following Southern Transition Council’s (STC) 25 April declaration of self-administration, power struggle between govt and separatists centred on Abyan and Socotra island in Gulf of Aden; govt forces and STC 1 May reached de-escalation agreement on Socotra after STC’s attempt to seize checkpoints in Hadibo, capital of Socotra, sparked fighting. Meanwhile, fighting between govt forces and STC forces 11 May erupted in Abyan following govt-led offensive on outskirts of STC-held Zinjibar, capital of Abyan; clashes reportedly killed more than 20 soldiers on both sides. Saudi-led coalition 31 May reportedly downed two Huthi drones they claimed were aimed at civilian targets; Huthis did not claim attacks and same day reported coalition airstrikes in Marib. STC negotiation team 20 May arrived in Riyadh at Saudi Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s invitation to discuss implementation of Nov 2019 Riyadh Agreement. UN envoy Martin Griffiths in address to UN Security Council 14 May reported “significant progress” toward ceasefire agreement, raising hopes for comprehensive cessation of hostilities. World Health Organization early May warned of disastrous consequences of potential COVID-19 outbreak, predicting at least 55% infection rate and more than 40,000 deaths. Huthi authorities 5 May confirmed first COVID-19 cases in areas under its control; govt accused Huthis of covering up outbreak and 11 May declared Aden “infested city” following spike in COVID-19 cases.

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Reports & Briefings

In The News

14 Apr 2020
The prospect of the coronavirus spreading in Yemen offers a moment and indeed a humanitarian imperative to revive a political process. Reuters

April Longley Alley

Deputy Program Director, Middle East and North Africa
10 Apr 2020
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. New York Times

April Longley Alley

Deputy Program Director, Middle East and North Africa
15 Mar 2020
Now [Yemen's] fate is linked to a much bigger picture in a three-dimensional chess game. The Guardian

Peter Salisbury

Senior Analyst, Yemen
25 Feb 2020
[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. Washington Post

Peter Salisbury

Senior Analyst, Yemen
4 Feb 2020
For now, neither the Houthis nor the Saudis wish to abandon the talks, but the de-escalation process is under severe strain. Washington Post

— Crisis Group Alert

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

Latest Updates

Behind the Front Lines in Yemen’s Marib

Just before major battles in northern Yemen and the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, Crisis Group expert Peter Salisbury travelled to Marib, the government’s last stronghold. He found a region coping well with massive displacement but fearing a settlement that would favour the advancing Huthis.

Also available in العربية

Preventing a Deadly Showdown in Northern Yemen

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.

Also available in العربية

Breaking A Renewed Conflict Cycle in Yemen

Heavy fighting has started again in Yemen after one of the war’s quietest months. Battles on the northern front lines highlight the flaws of the piecemeal approach to negotiating an end to the war – and the pressing need for a coordinated multi-track effort.

Also available in العربية

Peace Is Possible in Yemen

Out of a Moment of Crisis, a Chance for a Solution.

Originally published in Foreign Affairs

Also available in العربية

The Beginning of the End of Yemen’s Civil War?

For the first time in years, a viable pathway to peace in Yemen is in view. But obstacles remain, chiefly the gaps between the conflict parties’ positions. 

Also available in العربية

Our People

April Longley Alley

Deputy Program Director, Middle East and North Africa

Peter Salisbury

Senior Analyst, Yemen
peterjsalisbury