The war in Yemen, which escalated in March 2015 when a Saudi-led coalition intervened on behalf of the internationally recognised government against Huthi rebels aligned with former President Ali Abdullah Saleh, has turned a poor country into a humanitarian catastrophe: hunger and fighting could provoke mass famine and waves of refugees; the conflict could destabilise Saudi Arabia; and both sides appear locked in a cycle of escalating violence, derailing UN peace talks. Crisis Group’s focus is on the negotiations: introducing ourselves at key points, shaping the debate, proposing solutions and encouraging stakeholders to modify positions based on our analysis. Concerted effort is required to convince the parties to accept the UN’s roadmap as the basis for a compromise that would end foreign intervention and allow Yemenis to make peace.

CrisisWatch Yemen

Deteriorated Situation

Conflict Risk Alert

Houthis launched long-range missiles and drones targeting Israel, which were intercepted by Israeli defences; group threatened further such attacks in coming weeks that risk expanding Israel-Hamas war.

Houthis targeted Israel, raising prospect of regional escalation. Following outbreak of war between Hamas and Israel on 7 Oct (see Israel-Palestine), Houthi leader Abdulmalek Al-Houthi 10 Oct declared group’s readiness to respond with drones and missiles to any U.S. involvement in Hamas-Israel war and expressed willingness to coordinate intervention with other Iran-backed “Axis of Resistance” members, including Iraqi factions and Hizbollah in Lebanon (see Iran, Iraq and Lebanon). Underscoring potential for greater involvement of such actors, U.S. navy 19 Oct intercepted three cruise missiles and multiple drones reportedly launched by Houthis, potentially targeting Israel. Drones 27 Oct struck Egyptian Red Sea town Taba, injuring six, while second drone was downed over Red Sea; Israel blamed Houthis for attack aimed at Israel. Houthis 31 Oct fired drones and ballistic missiles at southern Israel, which were intercepted by Israeli jets and air defence systems; group claimed responsibility and vowed further such strikes if “Israeli aggression” against Hamas continues.

Dialogue between Houthis and Saudi Arabia awaited breakthrough. Houthi delegation’s visit to Saudi Arabia in Sept set stage for further talks and possible progress. Houthi attack on Saudi military position in Jazan's Doud mountain near border 25 Oct killed four Saudi soldiers. On diplomatic front, UN Special Envoy Hans Grundberg 4 Oct met Omani FM Badr Al-Busaidi in Omani capital Muscat to discuss developments in Yemen. Presidential Leadership Council (PLC) head Rashad al-Alimi 18 Oct held separate meetings with Grundberg and U.S. envoy Tim Lenderking in Saudi capital Riyadh.

In other important developments. Syria 10 Oct notified Houthis to vacate Yemeni embassy in Syrian capital Damascus, which they have effectively controlled since 2015. PLC 11 Oct said Syria’s decision followed its engagement with Damascus. Explosive device 4 Oct killed commander of Security Belt forces, Salem Sal’an, in Abyan governorate, reportedly during operation against al-Qaeda. Yemenia Airlines 17 Oct resumed six weekly flights from Sanaa international airport to Jordan, after Houthis froze company’s accounts.

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In The News

9 Apr 2023
The visit of both the Saudis and the Omanis aims to discuss the final details of the [Yemen] truce extension agreement, which is expected to be announced very soon. Financial Times

Ahmed Nagi

Senior Analyst, Yemen
22 Oct 2022
The temporary cessation of hostilities in Yemen, the longest since the start of the war, has given Yemeni civilians much-needed breathing room after eight years of war. Dawn

Veena Ali-Khan

Former Researcher, Yemen
5 Jul 2022
Given the Red Sea's strategic nature as a vital transport route; this [oil spill] can only further internationalise the Yemen war, which already became more complex due t... Middle East Eye)

Joost Hiltermann

Program Director, Middle East and North Africa

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Ahmed Nagi

Senior Analyst, Yemen
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