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.
Thriving on conflict, sectarianism, and local opportunism, al-Qaeda’s affiliates are stronger than ever in Yemen. To shrink their growing base will require better governance in vulnerable areas, not treating all Sunni Islamists as one enemy, and above all ending Yemen’s civil war.
Originally published in Foreign Policy
Fighting intensified as Saudi-led coalition and aligned Yemeni troops 7 Jan launched campaign to retake area around Bab al-Mandeb strait between Yemen and Djibouti in SW and southern part of Red Sea coastline from Huthi rebels and forces supporting former President Saleh, and increased military pressure in north including in Saada, Hajjah, Jawf and Marib governorates. Govt-aligned forces claimed to have retaken Dhubab district on Red Sea coast 13 Jan and Mokha city further north 23 Jan, but fighting continued end month. Two U.S. drone strikes (first drone strikes under new U.S. President Trump) 21 Jan killed ten alleged al-Qaeda militants in al-Bayda province. U.S. Special Forces attacked al-Qaeda stronghold in al-Bayda 29 Jan killing fourteen militants according to U.S. military and causing civilian casualties, according to Yemeni official, including killing eight women and seven children. UNOCHA 16 Jan said at least 10,000 civilians killed since conflict began in March 2015.
Yemen's outlook is bleak. It is crucial that the opposing blocs and their regional allies commit to a political process to resolve the conflict, but there is no end in sight. The immediate priority should be an agreement on humanitarian aid and commercial goods for areas where civilians are under siege.
Yemen is now at war. Fuelled by Saudi-Iranian rivalry and a violent jihadi upsurge, fighting is fragmenting the country and could spread beyond if parties do not immediately de-escalate and – with the support of Gulf neighbours – return to negotiations on a compromised, power-sharing leadership.
Continued fighting between Huthis and their various opponents could lead to a major conflagration, further undermining the Yemen’s troubled political transition.
Yemen must agree on its state structure, including the South’s status, to forge a stable future. A final agreement cannot be forced by the National Dialogue Conference; for some key issues, only continued, more inclusive talks in the context of confidence-building measures can succeed.
Yemen must take further steps to reform its security forces, or longstanding divisions could well undermine its political transition, which entered into a six-month “national dialogue” on 18 March.
The [Huthis] almost certainly receive some smuggled weapons, but these are not decisive in their ability to continue the war [in Yemen].
The [recent U.S.] raid ignores the local political context in Yemen, to the detriment of an effective counter-terrorism strategy.
The use of U.S. troops and the high number of civilian casualties . . . are deeply inflammatory and breed anti-American resentment across the Yemeni political spectrum that works to the advantage of AQAP.
The longer the war continues in Yemen, the stronger al-Qaeda is likely to get.
It seems that now the [Yemeni] government and coalition are determined to try to break the military stalemate and bring [the Houthi-Saleh bloc] back to talks in a weaker position.
Political negotiations [in Yemen] are a sideshow at the moment. The coalition appears determined to take additional territory before giving talks another chance.
Le nombre élevé de victimes du raid antiterroriste américain du 1er février au Yémen risque d’aggraver plutôt que d’aider à résoudre un conflit qui est la raison principale de l’expansion d’Al-Qaida dans la péninsule arabique (AQPA) dans ce pays dévasté. Sous forme de questions-réponses, April Longley Alley explique pourquoi.
Originally published in Orient XXI
Originally published in The Washington Post
In a keynote speech for the World Water Week in Stockholm on 28 August 2016, our MENA Program Director Joost Hiltermann assesses the role of water in Middle East conflicts – even, potentially, when used in the cultivation of Yemen’s beloved stimulant, qat.
Since March 2015, a civil war has been raging in Yemen involving several outside military powers. April Longley Alley, Senior Analyst for the Arabian Peninsula, explains how Yemen reached this destructive impasse.
Lo que empezó como lucha de poder interna en un Estado frágil se ha convertido en enfrentamiento entre Arabia Saudí e Irán y amenaza con desintegrar Yemen y extender la violencia sectaria.
Originally published in Política Exterior