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

Unchanged Situation

Houthis caused first fatalities in attacks on international shipping amid ongoing U.S-UK airstrikes; Houthi bombing in al-Bayda killed civilians, sparking protests, while local mediation sought to reopen roads.

In Gulf of Aden, Houthi attacks caused first fatalities as group vowed wider strikes. In Red Sea and Gulf of Aden, Houthis continued attacks targeting merchant vessels as well as U.S. and UK warships, 5 March vowing more “painful” attacks and 14 March announcing targeting of shipping in Indian Ocean. Notably, Houthi missile strike 6 March killed three crew members on Barbados-flagged ship in Gulf of Aden. U.S. and UK continued strikes on Houthi targets; notably, 11 March conductedsix airstrikes and 27 March struck Saada province. In rare engagement, Houthi and Hamas representatives 15 March met in Lebanon’s capital Beirut to discuss coordinating actions in Red Sea, while reports circulated of secret U.S.-Iran talks held in Jan in Oman’s capital Muscat to de-escalate Houthi attacks. EU naval mission in Red Sea began operations: notably, Italian destroyer 2 and 12 March intercepted Houthi attacks. Houthis 19 March announced launching missiles at Israeli city Eilat, which for first time hit open ground near city. Bloomberg 21 March reported that China and Russia agreed safe passage for their ships through Red Sea in exchange for “political support” for Houthis. 

Houthi bombing in centre tarnished growing popularity. Houthis 19 March bombed residential buildings in Radea district, al-Bayda governorate, allegedly in retaliation for ambush, reportedly killing twelve and sparking protests. Houthi-run Interior Ministry next day condemned bombing as individual act; attack negatively impacted Houthis’ popularity for their stance on Gaza war, and may provoke tribal retaliation. 

Local bid to open roads during Ramadan made modest progress. In sign of growing public dissatisfaction with roads closed since 2015, media, tribal leaders and activists called for reopening of roads during Muslim holy month Ramadan. After Marib governor late Feb opened Marib-Sana’a road and called on Houthis to do same, Houthis refused, suggesting opening Sana’a-Khwalan-Marib road instead. Renewed clashes 12 March suspended mediation between Houthis and Southern Transitional Council to reopen al-Dhale-Ibb road. 

Continue reading

In The News

1 Feb 2024
[The] Houthis wanted to send a message: We are the group that is most committed to Gaza, not just in words but in action. CNN

Ahmed Nagi

Senior Analyst, Yemen
15 Ene 2024
What's happening in the Red Sea will have a huge impact on the current political process between the Saudis and Houthis. NPR

Ahmed Nagi

Senior Analyst, Yemen
9 Abr 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

Latest Updates

Our People

Ahmed Nagi

Senior Analyst, Yemen
Ahmed Nagi

Subscribe to Crisis Group’s Email Updates

Receive the best source of conflict analysis right in your inbox.