CrisisWatch

Tracking Conflict Worldwide

CrisisWatch is our global conflict tracker, an early warning tool designed to help prevent deadly violence. It keeps decision-makers up-to-date with developments in over 70 conflicts and crises every month, identifying trends and alerting them to risks of escalation and opportunities to advance peace. In addition, CrisisWatch monitors over 50 situations (“standby monitoring”) to offer timely information if developments indicate a drift toward violence or instability. Entries dating back to 2003 provide easily searchable conflict histories.

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January 2024

Middle East & North Africa

Yemen

U.S. and UK began bombing campaign against Houthis, risking wider escalation, as U.S. “terrorist” designation of group could compound humanitarian crisis and hamper peace process; frontlines displayed signs of possible renewed conflict.

U.S. and UK launched anti-Houthi airstrikes. In major escalation, U.S. and UK 11 Jan launched airstrikes against dozens of Houthi targets in Sanaa, Sa’adah, Taiz, Hajjah and Hodeida governorates, and 13-14, 16-202224, 27 and 31 Jan struck locations in Hodeida, Taiz, Dhamar, al-Bayda, and Sa’adah governorates, citing Houthi attacks on international shipping. Houthis remained defiant, as strikes appeared to inflict limited damage on group’s capabilities or morale and proved counterproductive: Houthis 1517 Jan struck U.S.-operated ships in Gulf of Aden and vowed further action, raising prospect that attacks from both sides could escalate in coming weeks.

U.S. re-designated Houthis terrorist organisation. After removing group from “Foreign Terrorist Organisation” list in Feb 2021, U.S. 17 Jan designated Houthis “Specially Designated Global Terrorist”, citing need to impede funding. Designation may hamper international response to humanitarian crisis, further complicate peace talks between Riyadh and Houthis and dampen prospects of dialogue with other conflict actors.

Local fighting escalated in several regions, threatening to upend de facto truce. Houthi shelling 12 Jan killed two govt soldiers in Hodeida governorate. Houthi drone 14 Jan targeted Shabwa Defence Forces in Marib governorate, killing two soldiers. Houthis next day attacked border guards in al-Jawf governorate, killing two. Giants Brigade 23 Jan claimed it repelled Houthi offensive in Bayhan town, Shabwa, causing casualties. Risk of wider ground fighting along frontlines loomed as Houthis may initiate new major offensive, particularly if U.S. and UK provide support to anti-Houthi groups.

Eastern leaders formed new group; regional proxy competition continued. In move seen as countering separatist Southern Transitional Council’s attempts to assert control in east, prominent local leaders in eastern governorates (Hadramawt, al-Mahra, Shebwa and Socotra) 9 Jan announced formation of single entity to counter external influence and advocate equal representation in any political settlement. Highlighting competition between Riyadh and Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates-backed Hadhrami Elite Forces 16 Jan blocked entry of Saudi-backed Nation Shield Forces into Mukalla city.

December 2023

Middle East & North Africa

Yemen

In escalation in Red Sea, U.S. killed ten Houthi militants attempting to board commercial ship as group’s drones targeted Israel; Yemen’s warring parties agreed steps toward peace process under UN auspices.

U.S. took first military action to rebuff Houthi attacks on Red Sea shipping. After Houthis in Nov threatened to target any ship travelling to or from Israel unless food and medicine are allowed into Gaza (see Israel-Palestine), Houthi attacks on shipping since 19 Nov reached at least two dozen as of 31 Dec, according to U.S. forces. Notably, Houthi missiles and drones 3, 11, 15, 18 Dec struck ships in Red Sea; Houthis 15 Dec launched drones toward Israeli city Eilat; Egypt next day intercepted suspected Houthi drone off Red Sea coast. International naval presence grew: French navy 9 Dec shot down two alleged Houthi drones; UK navy 15 Dec downed drone; U.S. navy 16 Dec intercepted fourteen drones originating from Houthi-controlled territory and 30 Dec intercepted two missiles targeting container ship. U.S. 19 Dec announced maritime task force to protect shipping; Iran’s defence minister 14 Dec warned task force would face “extraordinary problems”. In significant escalation that may reset rules of engagement, U.S. navy helicopters 31 Dec fired on small boats carrying Houthis attempting to board container ship, killing ten; UK and U.S. vowed more action if necessary, underscoring risk of further hostilities that could broaden Gaza war.

Govt and Houthis committed to steps toward ceasefire and UN-led peace process. UN Envoy Hans Grundberg 23 Dec announced govt and Houthis committed to steps toward ceasefire, including resumption of oil exports, opening of roads in Taiz and easing restrictions on Sanaa airport and Hodeida port, and said parties would work toward roadmap under UN auspices. Announcement came after Houthis and Saudi-led coalition late Nov finalised draft deal addressing humanitarian issues, including Riyadh’s commitment to pay public sector salaries for one year.

In other important developments. U.S. 8 Dec imposed sanctions on thirteen individuals and entities accused of financing Houthis. World Food Programme 5 Dec suspended food aid in Houthi-controlled areas due to limited funding and disagreement with local authorities.

November 2023

Middle East & North Africa

Yemen

Saudi-Houthi dialogue appeared to gather steam, while Houthi rebels launched attack in Marib governorate, fortified presence in southwest and attacked Israeli and U.S. targets in Red Sea.

Houthi-Saudi talks continued, boosted by Saudi-Iranian communication. Houthi delegation early month reportedly visited Saudi capital Riyadh – in second such visit in 2023 – to discuss technical details of deal on humanitarian issues, including salary payments. Saudi defence minister 15 Nov met Presidential Leadership Council members in Riyadh for update on talks. Dialogue appeared to benefit from increased engagement between Riyadh and Iran: notably, Iran’s President Raisi 11 Nov met Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman in Riyadh (see Saudi Arabia).

Houthis launched attack in centre, strengthened presence in Taiz, Hodeida and Al-Dhale governorates. Houthis 6-7 Nov launched attack on govt position in Alkassara area, northwestern Marib, triggering clashes that killed eight govt soldiers and injured 17. Govt’s Army Chief of Staff 7 Nov survived assassination attempt in Marib governorate that Ministry of Defence blamed on Houthis. Following recruitment drive fuelled by resentment over Israel’s campaign in Gaza (see Israel-Palestine), Houthis fortified military presence in Taiz and Hodeida governorates near strategic Bab al-Mandab strait; Houthis reportedly installed ballistic missile launch pads in Hodeida. In Al-Dhale governorate, Houthis 12 Nov launched attacks targeting Southern Transitional Council forces in Mount Satah Bab Ghalaq; group escalated activity north of Al-Dhale, 12 Nov launching drone strikes on Habil Al-Abdi district.

Houthis continued to take aim at Israeli and U.S. targets. Houthis 6, 9, 13, 14 Nov claimed drone and ballistic missile attacks on Israeli targets. Group 8 Nov shot down U.S. drone. Houthi leader Abdulmalik al-Houthi 14 Nov vowed to continue attacks on Israel and Israeli ships in Red Sea. U.S. officials 15 Nov reported intercepting drone originating in Yemen in Red Sea. Houthis 19 Nov hijacked ship in Red Sea partially owned by Israeli businessperson and declared all Israel-linked vessels “legitimate target”. U.S. officials said two ballistic missiles were launched 27 Nov from Houthi-controlled areas towards general location of U.S. warship in Red Sea. U.S. Navy 29 Nov shot down drone launched from Houthi-controlled area.

October 2023

Middle East & North Africa

Yemen

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.

September 2023

Middle East & North Africa

Yemen

Houthi delegation visited Saudi Arabia for first time in nine years, sporadic clashes surged between Houthis and govt forces, and Southern Transitional Council (STC) called for separate state.

Houthi representatives travelled to Saudi Arabia for dialogue. In first official visit since outbreak of war in 2014, Houthi delegation and Omani mediators 14-19 Sept held talks with Saudi officials in Saudi capital Riyadh; talks reportedly included reopening of Houthi-controlled capital Sanaa airport and Hodeida port, reopening roads in Taiz, Al-Dhale, Marib and Hodeida governorates, prisoner exchange, roadmap for permanent ceasefire, ending airstrikes and cross-border attacks, establishing timeline for foreign troops to leave Yemen, and payment of public salaries from oil and gas revenues, possibly by directing revenue to neutral country’s bank; talks did not include representatives from Presidential Leadership Council (PLC). Meanwhile, Houthis 2 Sept announced that Yemenia airlines would increase flights between Sanaa and Jordanian capital Amman to six per week from 5 Sept.

Houthis and govt forces clashed sporadically. After hostilities broke out along several frontlines in Marib governorate in Aug, clashes 16 Sept erupted between govt forces and Houthis near Al-Mutoon district and 20 Sept reportedly in Taiz governorate. Bahrain late month claimed Houthi drone strike killed four Bahraini soldiers on Saudi Arabia’s border; Saudi-led coalition said it “reserves the right to respond”. In Houthi-controlled Sanaa, Houthis 21 Sept held military parade. Teachers in Houthi-controlled areas, including Sanaa, entered second month of strikes demanding unpaid salaries; in response, after announcing transportation allowance for teachers in late Aug, Houthis 8 Sept arrested representative of Yemeni Teachers Club in Mahwit.

STC leader renewed call for southern state. Following uptick in fighting between Houthis and STC-affiliated brigades in Aug in region straddling Al-Bayda governorate’s Al-Zahir district and Lahj governorates’s Al-Hadd and Yafea districts, resulting in dozens of casualties on both sides, head of STC and member of PLC Ayderous al-Zubaidi 22 Sept called for creation of separate southern state. Clashes between STC-affiliated group and suspected al-Qaeda militants 27 Sept reportedly killed at least five STC-affiliated fighters in Abyan governorate.

August 2023

Middle East & North Africa

Yemen

Oman sought to advance peace talks as Huthis threatened escalation and clashed heavily with separatists in south, while armed raid on Aden’s presidential palace revealed deep govt divisions.

Omani delegation visited capital Sanaa in hope of fostering talks. Amid growing resentment among civil servants over stalled salary payments, Huthi leader Abdul Malek al-Huthi 11 Aug threatened escalation against Saudi-led coalition if talks do not make progress. After last visit in April, Omani delegation 17 Aug arrived in Sanaa to meet Huthi leadership and discuss latest developments in talks; while Huthis want humanitarian file and salaries addressed first, Omanis suggested addressing salary payments and concurrently establishing principles. Meanwhile, UN special envoy Hans Grundberg 8-9 Aug met Presidential Leadership Council (PLC) members and Saudi officials and 15 Aug met Omani and Huthi officials. In briefing to UN Security Council, Grundberg 16 Aug highlighted dire economic situation and intermittent fighting on Taiz, Marib, Dhale, Hodeida, Shebwa and Saada front lines.

In south, Huthis and Southern Transitional Council (STC) clashed amid spate of militant attacks. Huthis attempted to seize control of strategic military sites in Al Hadd Yafea, northeast of Lahj governorate, triggering clashes with STC on 26 Aug that killed eight STC fighters with unknown Huthi causalities. Meanwhile in Abyan governorate, suspected al-Qaeda attack 1 Aug killed at least five STC-affiliated troops in Wadi Omran; similar assault 10 Aug killed six fighters, including senior STC commander, in Mudiyah district. Unknown gunmen 15 Aug assassinated govt officer in Taiz city investigating last month’s killing of UN official.

Southern militia raided presidential palace. Giants Brigades, southern salafi group aligned with United Arab Emirates (UAE), 13 Aug stormed presidential palace in Aden, besieging PM Maeen Abdulmalik Saeed’s residence for several hours following his return from Riyadh in attempt to pressure Saeed to agree to financial benefits for associates of salafi commander Abu Zara’ah al-Mahrami; raid underscored divisions within PLC, likely stemming from tensions between Riyadh and Abu Dhabi.

In other important developments. Saudi Arabia 1 Aug announced $1.2bn economic aid for PLC. UN 11 Aug removed over 1m barrels of oil from decaying FSO Safer to avert ecological disaster.

July 2023

Middle East & North Africa

Yemen

Negotiations between Huthis and Saudi Arabia remained stalled, Southern Transitional Council (STC) mobilised forces in Hadramawt amid mounting tensions, and economic crisis sparked protests.

Huthi-Saudi talks made no progress. Negotiations remained at impasse over use of oil revenues for civil and military salary payments and Riyadh’s insistence on its role as mediator in conflict. Huthi delegation 9 July completed Hajj pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia and reportedly met Saudi officials in Saudi capital Riyadh. Meanwhile, Huthis targeted forces in al-Dhale, southern al-Bayda, and Taiz governorates to pressure Riyadh. In UN Security Council briefing, UN Envoy Hans Grundberg 10 July highlighted need for de-escalation of economic hostilities and concern over military posturing and parades; President of Huthi Revolutionary Committee Mohammed al-Huthi same day accused UN of perpetuating conflict and called for lifting of sanctions. Security Council 10 July renewed mandate for UN Mission to Support the Hodeidah Agreement (UNMHA) until 14 July 2024.

STC mobilised supporters amid tensions with Saudi-aligned forces in Hadramawt. STC 7 July held annual rally in Hadramawt governorate, expressing discontent at newly-formed Saudi-led Hadramawt National Council (HNC); STC 7 July mobilised protests for Southern Homeland Day and reiterated calls to evict Islah-aligned First Military Region from Hadramawt. STC same day accused First Military Region of shooting protestors at tribal leader’s residence in Seiyun city. STC leader Ayderous al-Zubaidi 9 July threatened to “blow up the situation in Hadramawt”; Saudi-Emirati rivalry has intensified tensions, with Riyadh utilising HNC to diversify its influence in Hadramawt and weaken UAE-backed STC.

Economic hardship sparked protests. Protests 11-12 July erupted in Aden, Lahij, Taiz and Hadramawt governorates over electricity shortages and currency devaluation, as Riyal 11 July reached low of 1,500 to U.S. dollar for first time since April 2022; STC blamed govt ineptitude. Head of Presidential Leadership Council Rashad al-Alimi 12 July met Saudi officials in Riyadh to secure financial assistance and emphasised importance of resuming oil exports from Hadramawt and Shebwa governorates.

In other important developments. Replacement ship 16 July arrived in Yemen to begin unloading oil from stranded tanker FSO Safer. Unknown gunman 21 July killed World Food Programme worker in Turbah town, Taiz governorate.

June 2023

Middle East & North Africa

Yemen

Negotiations between Huthis and Saudi Arabia remained stalled despite flurry of diplomatic activity and confidence-building steps, while rival forces jostled for control in southern provinces.

Huthi-Saudi talks remained deadlocked despite steps to ease tensions. In attempt to increase pressure on Huthis, Saudi Arabia 5 June held talks on Yemen with Chinese officials and 7 June with U.S. officials. Other diplomatic efforts continued at high intensity: notably, UN Special Envoy Hans Grundberg 4-5 June travelled to Saudi Arabia and Oman, and Presidential Leadership Council leader Rashad al-Alimi 8 June met U.S. Sec State Antony Blinken in Saudi capital Riyadh. Negotiations, however, remained stuck over various Huthi demands, including salary payments and increasing flights from Sanaa airport. In positive steps, national carrier Yemenia Airways 8 June announced doubling flight schedule to six, with first direct flight since 2016 between Yemen and Saudi Arabia 17 June arriving in Saudi Arabian city Jeddah; Huthi media 21 June reported Saudi Arabia and Huthis exchanged bodies of fighters. Huthis officials issued weekly warnings of return to hostilities and Huthi redeployments along front underscored potential of renewed war. Meanwhile, UN 16-18 June convened talks between govt and Huthis in Jordanian capital Amman, where Huthis reportedly agreed to negotiate release of prominent political prisoner and Islah member Mohammed Qahran.

Regional actors manoeuvred their affiliated forces in south. Following Riyadh’s request, Al-Alimi’s Nation Shield Forces 6 June deployed from Saudi border toward Aden province, signalling intent to counteract United Arab Emirates (UAE)-backed Southern Transitional Council’s (STC) influence in south; STC next day reportedly sent reinforcements to Aden. In Hadramawt province, after STC took steps to solidify its influence with UAE support in recent months, Saudi Arabia invited several prominent Hadrami leaders to Riyadh for discussions regarding future of region, underscoring tensions between Riyadh and Abu Dhabi; participants of discussions 21 June established Hadramawt National Council.

In other important developments. Huthis continued to economically undermine govt, notably by importing cooking gas through Hodeida port to break govt’s monopoly in Marib. Clashes between suspected al-Qaeda militants and UAE-backed pro-govt Shebwa Defence Forces 10 June reportedly killed three in Shebwa province.

May 2023

Middle East & North Africa

Yemen

Hopes of breakthrough deal between Saudi Arabia and Huthis dwindled, while southern separatists demanded independent state and factions jockeyed for control of Hadramawt province.

Huthi-Saudi talks stalled. After Saudi diplomatic visit in April raised expectation of breakthrough, Huthis refused to sign Saudi-proposed roadmap or deal with Presidential Leadership Council (PLC), and refused to provide guarantees to enter intra-Yemen talks; Huthis reportedly demanded Riyadh pay reparations for war. UN Envoy Hans Grundberg 2-3 May visited capital Sanaa and held “constructive” meeting with Huthi leaders; 3 May travelled to Aden for “fruitful” discussion with PLC head al-Alimi. Grundberg 17 May briefed UN Security Council, noting “clear determination on all sides to make progress” toward peace deal despite violence along front lines, particularly in al-Jawf, Marib, Taiz and Saada governorates.

Southern Transitional Council (STC) made bid for leadership in south. In attempt to build consensus among southern groups on secession and position itself as main force in south ahead of anticipated intra-Yemeni talks, STC 4-8 May convened Southern National Consultative Meeting, which 8 May produced “national charter” calling for “restoration of the state of the south”; several important groups, notably Hadramawt Inclusive Conference and National Conference for the People of the South, refused to attend, stating opposition to STC’s expansionist agenda. STC 8 May announced council’s restructuring, including creation of legislative body of 392 members. STC President and PLC Vice President Ayderous al-Zubaidi 9 May appointed three new STC vice presidents.

Tensions persisted in Hadramawt, UN proceeded to salvage FSO Safer. Amid STC threats to take over Wadi Hadramawt – northern valley of Hadramawt controlled by Saudi-aligned Islah forces – Saudi-led delegation 5-6 May met Hadramawt and Shebwa governors as part of Saudi strategy to challenge STC’s power and deploy Nation’s Shield Forces headed by al-Alimi. PLC 22 May met Saudi defence minister in Riyadh, where council members criticised STC’s moves in Hadramawt. UN 4 May fell short of funding target to salvage stranded oil tanker FSO Safer but planned to begin rescue operation.

April 2023

Middle East & North Africa

Yemen

First Saudi diplomatic visit to Yemen in eight years and prisoner swap injected momentum into peace talks, raising hope for comprehensive agreement in May to halt hostilities.

Peace process picked up speed amid Saudi-Huthi talks and prisoner swap. Saudi Arabia 3 April invited Presidential Leadership Council (PLC) members to Saudi Arabian capital Riyadh to discuss negotiations with Huthis, where it presented draft agreement that reportedly included six-month nationwide ceasefire, end to transport restrictions, release of detainees and payment of salaries to civil and military employees in both Huthi and govt-controlled areas. Saudi-led coalition 6 April announced lifting of most restrictions on commercial ships docking in southern ports, including Aden, for first time in eight years. Saudi and Omani delegations 8 April met Huthi leaders in Sanaa to discuss renewal of ceasefire that lapsed in Oct 2022, in first official Saudi diplomatic mission to Yemeni capital since kingdom launched military campaign in March 2015; draft agreement was reportedly modified to include declaration of cessation of war instead of truce, roadmap for humanitarian aid and economic arrangements, and steps toward comprehensive political solution; parties also discussed departure of foreign forces. Although stumbling block remained over Saudi Arabia’s status as mediator or conflict party, Huthi chief negotiator 14 April said negotiations were “serious and positive”. In key confidence-building measure, Huthis, govt and Saudi Arabia 14-16 April concluded swap of 887 detainees; Saudi Arabia 17 April unilaterally released 104 detainees. UN Envoy Hans Grundberg 17 April described talks as best opportunity for peace in eight years.

Parties clashed in Marib, Shebwa and Lahij governorates. Huthi forces and Saudi-backed Salafi group, Saba Axis, clashed along front lines in Marib governorate. Huthis, Giants Brigade and Southern Transitional Council (STC)-affiliated Shebwa Defence Forces clashed along border between Shebwa and al-Bayda.

Saudi-led coalition sought to ease tensions in south. Coalition continued meetings with pro-govt and Southern Transitional Council (STC)-affiliated officials to ease tensions, particularly over Wadi Hadramawt area where STC forces seek to replace Islah-affiliated troops. STC President and PLC member Aydrous al-Zubaidi 1 April announced plan for STC to integrate new south-ern components, consolidating STC as chief representative on southern issue.

March 2023

Middle East & North Africa

Yemen

Huthis escalated hostilities in Marib and Shebwa governorates, ending months-long de facto truce and overshadowing prisoner exchange deal with govt as well as Iran-Saudi agreement.

Huthis launched attacks in Marib and Shebwa. Huthis launched assaults on govt-aligned forces 20 March in Marib’s Harib district and 26 March in mountain range connecting to Merkhah Al Ulya district in southern Shebwa, leading to deadly clashes, displacing hundreds and ending de facto truce in last six months as govt warned of possible return to all-out fighting; Huthi offensive seemingly sought to break stalemate in ongoing backchannel talks with Riyadh and dampened hopes for Saudi-Iran détente. Huthis 25 March conducted drone attack on Taiz Governor Nabil Shamsan, killing one. Huthis same day announced restrictions on humanitarian flights arriving in capital Sanaa, citing alleged Saudi prohibition on commercial flights.

Diplomatic efforts bore fruit before escalation. Following 10 March Saudi-Iran deal to restore ties (see Saudi Arabia and Iran), Saudi officials reportedly revealed deal included Iranian commitment to halt weapons shipments to Huthis; govt, Huthis and Southern Transitional Council (STC) cautiously welcomed agreement, fuelling hopes of reducing risk of new Huthi offensive; longstanding grievances of local factions, however, remained unaddressed. Meanwhile, Huthi-Saudi talks continued and, in parallel, govt and Huthi delegations 20 March reached deal to exchange 887 detainees in UN-facilitated talks in Switzerland.

Rift between STC and Riyadh continued, govt made overtures to Islah. STC official criticised deployment of Saudi-backed army National Shield Forces in STC-controlled areas, which threatens STC’s grip in south. STC 9 March voiced concern over Saudi-Huthi talks, warning against any deal that goes beyond UN-led process. Separately, Presidential Leadership Council member and leader of Joint Resistance Forces Tareq Saleh 2 March travelled to Islah-stronghold Taiz city and shook hands with rival and Islah military leader Abdo Farhan Mekhlafi, likely signalling attempts to secure pockets of influence in event of Saudi-Huthi settlement.

In other important developments. In first maritime incident in Red Sea this year, unidentified assailants 17 March attacked ship with machine-gun fire. Huthis doubled down on efforts to remove restrictions at Hodeida port, which could jeopardise govt revenues.

February 2023

Middle East & North Africa

Yemen

Saudi-Huthi backchannel talks displayed signs of progress, Huthis criticised UN’s role in Hodeida and Riyadh announced large deposit in Aden-based Central Bank as govt faced economic troubles.

Tentative signs of breakthrough in Huthi-Saudi negotiations emerged. Contours of deal reportedly became clear as Huthis claimed that Saudi Arabia agreed to their preconditions, including easing movement restrictions around Sanaa airport and Hodeida port and paying state employees’ salaries in Huthi-controlled areas. In positive signals, Riyadh permitted increased movement in Huthi-controlled Hodeida port and both sides toned down negative media rhetoric. Meanwhile, concurrent high-level diplomacy continued. In hope of resurrecting truce ahead of Muslim holy month of Ramadan beginning late March, UN Spe-cial Envoy Hans Grundberg’s military adviser early Feb met govt military commanders, tribal and civil society leaders to discuss possible ceasefire mechanisms. Grundberg 7 Feb met Presidential Leadership Council members al-Alimi and Abu Zara’a al-Muharrami in Aden to discuss inclusive political process; next day met Southern Transitional Council (STC)-aligned Aden governor. Grundberg and Iranian foreign ministry special adviser 9 Feb travelled separately to Oman for talks with Omani officials and Huthi chief negotiator.

Huthis grew critical of UN’s role in Hodeida. Huthis 6 Feb accused UN Verification and Inspection Mechanism for Yemen (UNVIM) of intentionally blocking cargo ships from entering Hodeida port, which UNVIM denied, and called for abolition of mechanism; criticism may reflect Huthis’ desire to diminish UN role ahead of possible lifting of Saudi Arabia’s restrictions on port. Huthis 5 Feb accused UN of delaying mission to salvage rusting oil tanker FSO Safer.

Economic outlook remained bleak, govt forces manoeuvred along front lines. Riyal in govt areas hovered around lowest rate since start of truce, while govt’s oil production remained at near-halt amid Huthi threats; Huthis sought to channel import commodities solely through Huthi-controlled Hodeida rather than govt-controlled Aden. Saudi Arabia 21 Feb announced $1bn deposit intended for Central Bank of Aden. Meanwhile, Nation Shield Forces – commanded by PLC head al-Alimi – deployed across key fault lines in Lahij, Shebwa, al-Dhale and Hadramawt governorates, which have seen friction between STC and Islah forces; move could be aimed at forestalling STC takeover in Hadramawt.

January 2023

Middle East & North Africa

Yemen

Backchannel talks between Huthis and Saudi Arabia intensified amid steady rise in skirmishes along front lines, while Saudi-Emirati tensions rose over influence in Hadramawt governorate.

Huthis and Saudi Arabia pursued dialogue to reinstate truce. After Omani mediators 10 Jan arrived in capital Sanaa, Huthi chief negotiator 15 Jan called talks with Omanis “serious and positive” but group warned of military escalation if their conditions are not met. Govt remained excluded from talks, raising fears that Riyadh could make unacceptable concessions. UN Special Envoy Hans Grundberg 16 Jan visited Sanaa to discuss truce restoration with Huthi officials and same day briefed UN Security Council, reporting “potential step change” in conflict’s trajectory. Meanwhile, low-scale fighting along key front lines in Saada, Marib, Taiz, al-Dhale and Hodeida continued to steadily rise, raising threat of miscalculation and renewed conflict. Head of Presidential Leadership Council (PLC) Al-Alimi late Jan established Nation Shield Forces, new military units under his direct command.

Emirati-backed groups sought to shift balance of power in Hadramawt. Southern Transitional Council (STC) – backed by United Arab Emirates (UAE) – 3 Jan mobilised protesters in Seyoun city demanding replacement of Islah-affiliated First Military Region with UAE-aligned Hadrami Elite Forces. Local tribal bloc Hadramawt Tribes Confederation denounced STC moves. In sign of unity with First Military Region, Saudi delegation 10 Jan met Hadramawt governor. STC’s efforts to establish military presence in areas with strong historical ties to Saudi Arabia could mark beginning of UAE-led initiative to uproot Saudi-backed Islah from Hadramawt, threatening localised conflict.

Govt continued active diplomatic engagement amid economic deterioration. U.S. Special Envoy Timothy Lenderking and U.S. Ambassador to Yemen Steven Fagin 6 Jan met al-Alimi and PM Maeen Abdulmalik Saeed to mobilise international support for govt; al-Alimi 10 Jan met U.S., UK, French and European Union ambassadors. PLC members and govt officials 8 Jan met in Saudi capital Riyadh to discuss stabilising economy and govt initiative to lower exchange rates against U.S. dollar. Following Huthi-enforced halt to oil exports, govt 8 Jan approved increase of customs exchange rates from 500 to 750 riyals; STC immediately called for reversal as fuel and other commodity prices spiked.

December 2022

Middle East & North Africa

Yemen

Back-channel efforts to restore truce showed little sign of breakthrough, as economic conflict escalated amid lingering risks of front-line hostilities and regional escalation.

No signs of progress in renewing truce emerged, despite ongoing efforts. Back-channel talks between Saudi Arabia and Huthis failed to make breakthrough as Huthis maintained demand for Saudi-led coalition to use govt oil revenues for public sector salaries, including of security services, which govt refused, while Saudi Arabia sought reassurance that Huthis would commit to political process. Diplomatic efforts continued nonetheless: notably, UN Envoy Hans Grundberg 6 Dec concluded trip to Saudi Arabia; European Union (EU) ambassadors 8 Dec concluded visit to Aden city where they met Presidential Leadership Council (PLC) head al-Alimi; EU delegation 10 Dec met Taiz governor and military, security and civil society leaders in Taiz city; head of Huthi Ministry of Planning and International Cooperation 6 Dec met EU delegation to Yemen to discuss humanitarian situation. In attempt to ease intra-PLC tensions, al-Alimi, Southern Transitional Council chief and PLC member Ayderous al-Zubaidi, and PLC Islah representative Abdullah al-Alimi 2 Dec met in United Arab Emirates (UAE).

Huthis and govt targeted each other on economic front. Although front-line hostilities did not significantly escalate, parallel economic conflict became increasingly visible. Following Huthi attacks in recent months on govt oil facilities, which paralysed state revenues, economic situation in govt-held areas deteriorated markedly; notably, Aden city witnessed repeated power outages, heightening risk of civil unrest. Huthis intensified threats to target facilities with drones to prevent exports without Huthis receiving share. In response, Central Bank of Aden 6 Dec ordered money exchange companies to freeze accounts of, and stop transactions with, 12 Huthi-affiliated entities; tit-for-tat measures heighten risk of miscalculation that could trigger return to hostilities.

In other important developments. PLC member and leader of National Resistance Force Tareq Saleh 7 Dec oversaw opening of UAE-financed airport in Mokha port city, Taiz governorate, easing movement restrictions for besieged Taiz residents. Defence minister 8 Dec signed military and security cooperation agreement with UAE; Huthi Deputy FM same day called agreement illegal and threatened to target Abu Dhabi.

November 2022

Middle East & North Africa

Yemen

Back-channel talks between Huthis and Saudi Arabia signalled deal could be reached outside stalled UN process, while Huthis attacked energy infrastructure, raising risks of front-line and regional escalation.

Huthis and Riyadh intensified back-channel negotiations away from UN process. As UN efforts to resurrect truce remained deadlocked, Huthis and Saudi Arabia intensified Oman-facilitated secret talks that excludes Presidential Leadership Council (PLC) and UN Special Envoy. Huthis demanded govt use oil and gas revenues to pay civilian and military state employees; while PLC rejected demand, Riyadh reportedly showed willingness to accommodate request provided Huthis enter political process first. Talks raise prospect of bilateral agreement that excludes PLC, which could incentivise anti-Huthi factions to act as spoilers.

Huthis attacked oil and gas infrastructure and redeployed troops on front lines. Huthis 9 Nov launched “warning shot” drone attack on Qana port in Shebwa governorate and ramped up media campaign threatening to target domestic and regional oil and gas facilities; attack disrupted crude oil exports, which is govt’s only source of revenue, and raised spectre of high-profile attack on Saudi Arabia or United Arab Emirates during World Cup. Huthis 21 Nov attacked al-Dhabba oil terminal for second time. While violence remained below pre-truce levels, tempo of skirmishes along front lines rose steadily, as Huthis sent reinforcements to Marib governorate. Unknown gunmen 8 Nov killed adviser to defence minister and his driver near Marib city. Meanwhile, UN human rights chief 4 Nov said Huthis had committed war crimes since truce’s expiry. U.S. Navy 8 Nov reported-ly intercepted shipment of missile fuel from Iran to Huthis in Gulf of Oman.

Diplomatic efforts continued to reinstate UN-brokered truce. U.S. Envoy for Yemen Timothy Lenderking 2-8 Nov visited Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates to meet Saudi, Emirati and govt officials. UN Special Envoy to Yemen Hans Grundberg 7 Nov concluded visit to Saudi capital Riyadh, where he met Saudi ambassador to Yemen who is reportedly prominently involved in back-channel talks. Meanwhile, PLC leader al-Alimi 2 Nov attended Arab summit in Algerian capital Algiers and urged member states to designate Huthis as terrorist organisation, as PLC had done in Oct.

October 2022

Middle East & North Africa

Yemen

April truce remained stuck in limbo after parties failed to agree extension, raising risk of Huthi regional attacks and new cycle of escalation.

Truce remained stuck between outright collapse and extension. Ahead of 2 Oct expiry, UN Special Envoy for Yemen Hans Grundberg 1 Oct proposed reopening roads in Taiz governorate, expanding flights from Sanaa airport, lifting restrictions on Hodeida port, and paying public sector salaries and pensions; however, Huthis at eleventh hour demanded govt pay salaries of defence and interior ministries in Huthi-controlled areas using oil and gas revenues, which govt rejected. Main sticking point during month remained source of revenue that ought to cover salary payments, with reports suggesting possible regional player could foot bill; unconfirmed reports late month suggested backchannel talks between Huthis and Saudi Arabia to revive truce were ongoing.

In absence of extension, risk of return to frontline and cross-border hostilities grew. Huthis 2 Oct threatened to target international energy companies operating in Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates, ahead of influx of visits to region for World Cup in Qatar in Nov. In first announced military action since truce expiry, Huthi drone 21 Oct targeted cargo ship docking at oil terminal in al-Shihr port, Hadramawt governorate, as Huthis accused companies of looting country’s resources. In response, govt’s National Defence Council designated Huthis as terrorist organisation. Elsewhere, clashes between Huthis and Saudi-led coalition-aligned Southern Transitional Council (STC) 6 Oct reportedly killed at least eight in Yafa, Lahij governorate. UN 13 Oct reported skirmishes along frontlines in Taiz, Marib, Hodeida and Dhale governorates during month.

In south, tensions continued within anti-Huthi bloc. STC mobilised protestors demanding withdrawal of Islah-aligned forces, in effort to extend its rule in Hadramawt governorate; thousands of pro-STC demonstrators 14 Oct reportedly protested in Seiyun, Hadramawt governorate.

In other important developments. Saudi delegation 12 Oct travelled to Sanaa, and Huthi delegation visited kingdom, to finalise prisoner exchange talks for first time since 2014; both parties reiterated agenda did not include truce. Yemeni riyal’s value 4 Oct plummeted to 1,174 to dollar, lowest since April.

September 2022

Middle East & North Africa

Yemen

Efforts to extend UN-brokered truce stalled ahead of Oct deadline amid govt disunity and Huthi military build-up, raising spectre of return to full-scale fighting.

Govt and Huthis failed to overcome key sticking points to renew truce. Ahead of expiry of UN-brokered truce on 2 Oct, efforts to secure third extension remained deadlocked amid fear of return to front-line hostilities; main sticking points included Huthi demand for disbursement of salary payments to areas under their control and govt demand for Huthis to first reopen roads in and around Taiz city. Flurry of diplomacy continued: notably, head of Presidential Leadership Council (PLC) Rashad al-Alimi during month met UN Special Envoy for Yemen Hans Grundberg, U.S. Envoy for Yemen Tim Lenderking, U.S. Sec State Antony Blinken and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz. Grundberg 3-5 Sept met Iranian FM Hossein Amir Abdollahian who reiterated Huthis’ call for lifting “blockade” and disbursing salary payments; Huthis 28 Sept reiterated threats to not extend while Grunberg warned “real risk” of return to war.

Anti-Huthi bloc faced fragmentation amid simmering tensions in south. Following deadly clashes in Aug between PLC factions that saw United Arab Emirates-aligned forces consolidate control of Shebwa and Southern Transition Council (STC) late Aug advance into Lawdar, capital of Abyan governorate, situation in south calmed during month; however, STC signalled intent to push further east into oil-rich Hadramawt and Mahra governorates. Protests supported by STC occurred throughout month in Hadramawt and Mahrah governorates demanding replacement of Islah forces from security positions.

Huthis continued military build-up in Hodeida, al-Qaeda struck in south. Huthis 1 Sept held military parade in Hodeida city; UN mission in Hodeida same day condemned parade as violation of 2018 Hodeida agreement. Huthis 21 Sept held another military parade in capital Sanaa as govt same day held military parades in Marib and Taiz; Huthis may believe resumption of hostilities favours them after weeks of PLC infighting. Meanwhile, suspected al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) 6 Sept launched deadly attack on security post in Ahwar, Abyan province, sparking clashes that killed 21 troops and eight militants.

August 2022

Middle East & North Africa

Yemen

Warring parties agreed two-month truce extension, while deadly clashes in Shebwa among rival anti-Huthi factions widened cracks within Political Leadership Council. Govt and Huthis 2 Aug for second time agreed to extend UN-mediated April truce for another two months; UN’s failure to secure six-month extension may signal warring parties’ reluctance both to return to frontline fighting and to transform truce into permanent ceasefire. Huthis same day demanded disbursement of salaries to public sector employees in Huthi-controlled areas, which they said was precondition for further truce extension, and opening of ports and airports. Govt refused salary payments before Huthis reopen roads in Taiz city; Taiz issue remained deadlocked despite rounds of talks in recent months in Jordanian capital Amman. Govt 29 Aug claimed Huthi attack killed 10 soldiers near Taiz city in “dangerous escalation”. On diplomatic front, UN Military Advisor Antony Hayward 4 Aug travelled to Ibb and Taiz governorates and met Huthi and govt representatives to discuss reopening roads in Taiz; UN envoy’s representative in Aden 10 Aug visited Mokha city in Taiz governorate to discuss opening roads local authorities. Meanwhile, tensions escalated within Political Leadership Council established in April. In Shebwa governorate, United Arab Emirates (UAE)-backed groups and Islah-aligned factions came to blows after Shebwa Governor and General People’s Congress Party member Muhammad bin al-Wazir al-Awlaki 6 Aug removed local commander of paramilitary Special Security Forces (SSF) and Islah party loyalist Abdi Rabbi Lakaab. Fighting between UAE-aligned Giants Brigades and Shebwa Defence Forces (SDF) on one side and SSF on other 7 Aug erupted in provincial capital Ataq; Giants Brigades and SDF 10 Aug reportedly took over city with dozens killed in fighting. Islah forces said Giants Brigades 20 Aug took over parts of oil field in Shebwa’s Ayaz. In neighbouring Abyan governorate, Political Leadership Council leader Rashid al-Alimi 22 Aug ordered Southern Transition Council (STC, backed by UAE and aligned with SDF) to cease its military operations, which STC next day described as “anti-terror” operation. Earlier, Al-Alimi 1 Aug appointed STC leader as governor of Socotra island and General People’s Congress official with purported STC ties as governor of Hadramawt.

July 2022

Middle East & North Africa

Yemen

Amid deadlocked talks to reopen roads to Taiz city, international actors scrambled to extend UN-mediated truce ahead of August expiry; failure to extend could see return to front-line and cross-border fighting. Ahead of 2 Aug expiry of UN-mediated truce between warring parties, international efforts to secure six-month extension intensified. Huthi Supreme Presidential Council member Mohammed al-Huthi 17 July called UN-mediated truce “shocking and disappointing experience”, suggesting Huthis may not agree to further truce extension; failure to extend could see conflict parties return to front-line fighting and cross-border attacks between Huthis and Saudi Arabia. Talks over reopening roads to Taiz, key pillar of truce agreement, remained stalled, further eroding hope of extension. Parties opted for unilateral announcements that did not translate into action on ground: Huthis 6 July announced unilaterally opening 50th/60th road, north west of Taiz city; Presidential Leadership Council member Tareq Saleh next day ordered reopening of road between Mokha city and Taiz areas under Huthi control, while Southern Transitional Council leader Ayderous al-Zubaidi announced reopening of road in al-Dhale governorate. UN special envoy’s office 21 July said Huthis rejected latest UN proposal focused on opening four secondary routes in Taiz in first phase. At talks in Jordanian capital Amman, Huthi and govt military committee representatives 5 July agreed to create joint operation room to coordinate military efforts and to reduce inflammatory media rhetoric. On security front, explosion at arms depot 5 July killed at least six and wounded 32 in Lawdar town, Abyan province. Suspected Huthi shelling 23 July killed at least one child and injured ten in Taiz city. Intense military redeployments by conflict parties on key front lines, including in Taiz and Marib, signalled preparation for potential resumption of violence. Anti-Huthi factions conducted recruitment campaigns; notably, Saudi-funded Happy Yemen Brigades commenced recruitment in Abyan province and deployed to presidential palace in Aden, seat of govt and leadership council; in parallel, Southern Transitional Council continued recruitment, mostly in Aden. UN Security Council 13 July extended mandate of UN mission (UNMHA) implementing Dec 2018 ceasefire in Hodeida ports. Presidential Leadership Council 29 July announced partial cabinet reshuffle.

June 2022

Middle East & North Africa

Yemen

Conflict parties extended April truce for two months, while negotiations over access to Taiz city remained central sticking point and divisions surfaced within govt. Warring parties 2 June renewed UN-mediated April truce for two months; truce – which is longest in effect since start of war in 2015 – has halted entirely cross-border attacks between Saudi-led coalition and Huthis and significantly slowed ground fighting. Low-scale fighting, however, continued during month across front lines, while conflict parties reportedly continued redeployment of military reinforcements and use of drones was reported in Marib, Hajjah, Saada, Hodeida, Taiz and al-Dhale governorates. UN High Commissioner for Human Rights 3 June said 19 civilians had been killed in first two months of truce. In effort to fulfil truce’s third confidence-building measure, govt and Huthis 5 June began second round of negotiations in Jordanian capital Amman over reopening road access to Taiz city; UN Special Envoy Hans Grundberg’s office 6 June presented proposal for phased reopening of roads. Huthis 24 June rejected UN proposal. After Huthis lifted ban on Grundberg’s entry to capital Sanaa, envoy 8 June visited city to meet Huthi Supreme Political Council President Mahdi al-Mashat and other Huthi officials, urging them to accept UN proposal. Separately, govt, Huthi and Saudi-led coalition representatives 6 June agreed to set up joint operation room to facilitate ceasefire. News 13 June surfaced that Oman facilitated talks in May on border security between Saudi Arabia and Huthis. Domestically, tensions within recently-formed Presidential Leadership Council surfaced, raising uncertainty over whether anti-Huthi bloc will remain united; notably, head of Southern Transitional Council (STC) Ayderous al-Zubaidi pushed for STC military wing, Security Belt Forces, to remain independent following govt’s decision in May to unify all anti-Huthi factions; STC reportedly has embarked on rampant recruitment across south. Meanwhile, security incidents in south rose, notably targeting STC-aligned individuals; IED 15 June killed journalist in Aden city. On economic front, food prices rose causing aid organisations to reduce food rations. With Yemeni riyal reaching 1,050 to U.S. dollar early month, state oil company in Aden 4 June increased fuel prices. Amid increasing power-cuts, as summer months approach, protests 5 June erupted in Mukalla city, Hadramawt governorate.

May 2022

Middle East & North Africa

Yemen

April truce largely held as UN scrambled to extend deal ahead of June expiration to avoid potential return to hostilities; Sanaa airport opened for first commercial flight in six years. Hostilities remained largely paused between govt and Huthis, notwithstanding slight increase in reported violations on ground, notably in Jabal Balaq mountains in Marib governorate, Taiz and Hajjah governorates. Huthis 23 May downed alleged Saudi-led coalition spy drone, killing three and injuring three in capital Sanaa. In positive development, first commercial flight in six years 16 May left Sanaa international airport after it had been temporarily postponed in April; reopening of airport was part of UN-brokered truce along with ending restrictions on fuel shipments into Hodeida port and lifting Huthi siege on Taiz city. Regarding latter, Huthis 17 May announced new demands, including halting fighting in Taiz governorate and removing military equipment from main roads; first round of talks between Huthis and govt to reopen Taiz roads 29 May ended with no tangible results. On diplomatic front, as expiration of truce on 2 June approached, UN envoy Hans Grundberg worked to secure extension. Grundberg 12 May spoke with head of Presidential Council Rashad al-Alimi, PM Maeen Abdulmalik Saeed and VP of Council Tareq Saleh about truce. Yemeni FM Ahmed Awak bin Mubarak 17 May met U.S Sec State Anthony Blinken in U.S. capital Washington and said govt was “very hopeful to extend” truce. Head of Huthi Supreme Political Council 22 May said Huthis “are not against” extending truce. Grundberg 30 May returned to Aden city and met with Rashad al-Alimi to discuss reopening Taiz roads, and 31 May met with Huthi’s chief negotiator Mohammed Abdul-Salam, where he discussed renewing truce and reopening roads in Taiz governorate. In gesture to support truce, Saudi-led coalition 6 May returned over 100 prisoners to Yemen. Clashes between suspected al-Qaeda militants and Southern Transitional Council-aligned militia Security Belt 6 May reportedly killed dozen in Dhale governorate. Saudi Arabia 16 May agreed to transfer $174mn deposit to Yemeni central bank. Yemeni riyal was volatile after relative stability during Ramadan: 8 May deteriorated to 1040 riyal to U.S. dollar before 18 May appreciating to 980.

April 2022

Middle East & North Africa

Yemen

In major breakthrough, fighting slowed and cross-border attacks halted after warring parties agreed two-month truce, while President Hadi handed over power to new presidential council. In first coordinated cessation of hostilities since 2016, UN Envoy Hans Grundberg 1 April announced two-month nationwide truce starting next day between Hadi govt and Huthis, which includes cessation of military operations and cross-border attacks, opening of Sanaa airport for biweekly commercial flights to Jordan and Egypt, permission for around 18 fuel ships to enter Huthi-controlled Hodeida port, and negotiations over opening road access to besieged Taiz city. Fighting slowed significantly following announcement of truce: Saudi-led coalition airstrikes and Huthi cross-border attacks into Saudi Arabia halted, while fighting around Marib city persisted at low level. Grundberg 6 April expressed concern over “some hostile military activities”, especially around Marib, while absence of mechanism to monitor violations leaves truce fragile; collapse of deal could see swift return to front-line fighting and cross-border attacks. In first visit since taking office, Grundberg 11 April travelled to capital Sanaa and met senior Huthi officials. First commercial flight from Sanaa International Airport in six years was postponed 24 April after disputes over passports being used by travellers. Amid Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC)-led consultations in Saudi capital Riyadh and reportedly under pressure from Saudi Arabia, President Hadi 7 April announced removal of VP Ali Mohsen al-Ahmar and transferred executive authority to new Presidential Leadership Council led by veteran politician and security official Rashad al-Alimi; Council includes diverse anti-Huthi factions and equal number of northern and southern leaders. Al-Alimi 8 April promised to “end the war and achieve peace”. Al-Alimi and other council members arrived in southern Aden city from Saudi Arabia and were sworn in 19 April with UN envoy and EU and GCC ambassadors in attendance. Following formation of presidential council, Saudi Arabia 7 April announced $3bn financial aid to govt, $1bn of which United Arab Emirates will supply, and $300mn for UN aid response; subsequently, Yemeni riyal nearly doubled in value from around 1,000 to about 650 YR to dollar, but subsequently declined.

March 2022

Middle East & North Africa

Yemen

Fighting slowed on front lines, UN envoy initiated political talks, and rising fuel prices and food shortages exacerbated humanitarian crisis. Fighting remained largely stalemated throughout month with clashes concentrated in Hajjah and Marib governorates. In Hajjah, Huthis retook areas in Harad city they lost in Feb. In Marib, fighting took place in Harib district near al-Balaq mountains encircling Marib city. Elsewhere, govt-aligned forces launched attacks on Huthis in Mukayras district, al-Bayda governorate, and Lawdar district, Abyan governorate; relative calm on front lines could signal Huthis re-grouping for counteroffensive around Muslim holy month of Ramadan. Huthis continued cross-border attacks into Saudi Arabia that provoked retaliatory airstrikes (see Saudi Arabia). On diplomatic front, UN Envoy Hans Grundberg 7 March initiated consultations with political parties (excluding Huthis) in Jordanian capital Amman; no tangible results. Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) 15 March proposed multiparty talks in Saudi Arabia’s capital Riyadh with Huthis, who next day said they would welcome talks only in neutral country; GCC states elected instead to hold political consultations in Riyadh with anti-Huthi parties, in apparent effort at forming united front, and potentially restructuring govt. Grundberg 19 March met Huthi chief negotiator to discuss possible truce during Ramadan. Head of Huthi-led Supreme Political Council 26 March proposed initiative via mediators to halt Huthi cross-border attacks on Saudi Arabia and ceasefire for three days in exchange for coalition reopening Sanaa International airport, and bring Hodeida port back up to full capacity; Saudi-led coalition 29 March announced it would halt military operations from next day. Russian invasion of Ukraine compounded already dire humanitarian situation. With 30%-40% of country’s wheat imported from Ukraine and Russia, outbreak of war (see Ukraine) led to skyrocketing prices as country has four months of reserves. Rising costs and depreciating currency raise risk of social unrest, not least during Ramadan when average household consumption rises; Integrated Food Security Phase Classification 14 March predicted 60% of population likely to experience acute food insecurity June-Dec 2022. High-level donor conference 16 March only raised $1.3bn of estimated $4.3bn budget, forcing UN to scale down humanitarian programs in 2022.

February 2022

Middle East & North Africa

Yemen

Anti-Huthi forces maintained multi-front offensive to regain lost territories as fighting in Marib stalemated, while tensions in south and economic hardship across country persisted. Govt-affiliated forces throughout month launched multi-front offensive, restoring degree of military equilibrium after two years of Huthi gains, but suffered series of reversals on ground. Govt forces advanced on Haradh city, Hajjah governorate, and reportedly gained parts of al-Safra district, Saada governorate. In Taiz governorate, United Arab Emirates (UAE)-backed National Resistance Forces advanced along Red Sea-Taiz city road between Jabal Habashi and Maqabana districts. However, Huthis launched counteroffensives in each area, claiming to have retaken most territory. In Marib governorate, fighting largely stalemated. Saudi-led coalition early month reportedly deployed newly-formed “Happy Yemen Brigades” near Marib. While UAE-backed Giants Brigades late Jan withdrew from Shebwa and southern Marib governorates, two brigades remained in northern Shebwa and Harib governorates where fighting continued. In southern Marib governorate, govt forces encircled Huthis from strategic al-Ain and Harib road. Huthis continued cross-border attacks into Saudi Arabia throughout month (see Saudi Arabia). Saudi-led coalition responded with airstrikes; notably, strike 14 Feb hit telecommunications infrastructure in capital Sanaa. In Hadramawt governorate in south, tensions between govt and tribal Hiba movement rose as Hiba blocked oil exports, demanding greater share of oil revenues from Shihr port. Southern Transitional Council official 17 Feb called for “escalation” of protests demanding withdrawal of govt troops from governorate. Fuel shortages remained widespread, particularly in Huthi-controlled territories, with govt and Huthis accusing each other of blocking passage of oil. Yemeni riyal 15 Feb fell to 1,180 to U.S. dollar, further increasing pressure on fuel price. Internationally, U.S. govt – under pressure from UAE, Saudi Arabia and Israel – 4 Feb held internal meeting about possible designation of Huthis as Foreign Terrorist Organisation; Treasury Dept 23 Feb sanctioned members of international network funding Huthis. UN Envoy Hans Grundberg 3 Feb met Huthi spokesperson in Oman’s capital Muscat; Huthis still refused Grundberg’s entry into Sanaa. In UN Security Council briefing, Grundberg 15 Feb announced new framework for inclusive process. UN Security Council 28 Feb imposed arms embargo on Huthis.

January 2022

Middle East & North Africa

Yemen

Battlefield hostilities escalated as anti-Huthi forces regained Shebwa governorate and Saudi-led coalition intensified bombing after Huthis launched deadly attacks on United Arab Emirates. United Arab Emirates (UAE)-aligned Giants Brigades early month recaptured al-Ain, Bayhan and Usaylan districts in north-western Shebwa governorate, al-Saadi junction connecting Marib and Shebwa governorates, and Harib district in southern Marib governorate; Giants Brigades later gained control of strategic road leading to al-Abdiya district and advanced toward Umm Rish camp in al-Juba district in Marib, although local and regional media late month reported that Giants’ military push was being halted; gains represented Huthis’ first visible territorial losses since their push toward Marib city in Jan 2020. In response to losses, Huthis carried out series of missile and drone attacks on UAE (see United Arab Emirates); Saudi-led coalition reacted by launching air strikes on capital Sanaa; notably, coalition 18 Jan carried out air raids on Sanaa killing at least 20; 21 Jan struck telecoms facility in Hodeida city killing three children and causing four-day nationwide internet outage. Attack 21 Jan targeting prison in Huthi-held Saada city reportedly killed at least 91 and injured over 200; coalition denied responsibility. U.S. President Biden 19 Jan said administration was considering re-designating Huthis as international terrorist organisation. Elsewhere, clashes continued without major shifts in front lines. In south, Taiz city witnessed increased levels of fighting, with govt forces making small advances around Jabal Habashi and Maqbana districts’ border. On political front, tensions between local authorities and tribal movements resurfaced in Hadramawt governorate as tribal conglomeration Hadramawt Inclusive Committee in Wadi Hadramawt area vied for establishment of locally-led military unit outside of ministry of defence chain of command as governor rejected idea. On economic front, currency volatility persisted as Yemeni riyal 30 Jan fell to 1,030 to U.S. dollar, following its appreciation last month, amid fuel shortages and price hikes, notably in Sanaa. Internationally, Iranian FM 10 Jan met Huthi top negotiator and Omani officials; UN Envoy Hans Grundberg 12 Jan briefed UN Security Council, notably highlighted military escalation and concern over militarisation of Hodeida port; 19 Jan met Saudi Vice Minister of Defense and Yemeni FM in Saudi capital Riyadh.

December 2021

Middle East & North Africa

Yemen