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Yemen

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

Amid rapid spread of COVID-19, Huthis stepped up attacks in north as well as cross-border strikes into Saudi-Arabia, while govt forces and southern separatists forged ceasefire after renewed fighting. In north, Huthi forces mid-June pursued offensive in west of Marib, pushing toward Marib city while consolidating control over territory in north despite Saudi airstrikes; Saudi-led coalition 26 June carried out series of airstrikes targeting al-Bayda and Marib. Govt forces 25 June reportedly surrounded Huthi-held al-Hazm in al-Jawf governorate.  Meanwhile, simmering tensions between Huthis and local tribes in north of al-Bayda escalated mid-June; Huthis took control of village after clashes 17-18 June reportedly killed at least 23 people from both sides. Huthis mid-June intensified cross-border attacks into Saudi-Arabia: Saudi-led coalition 13, 22, 23 June reportedly intercepted Huthi drones and missiles they claimed were aimed at civilian targets in provinces along border; no casualties reported but one attack allegedly left some people injured. Huthi forces 23 June reportedly launched missiles at Saudi Defence Ministry, military base in Saudi capital Riyadh and military positions in Jizan and Najran cities; no casualties reported. In south, after Saudi Arabia 18 June reportedly presented new proposal to govt and Southern Transitional Council (STC) on implementation of Nov 2019 Riyadh Agreement, tensions escalated when STC forces 19 June captured Hadibo, capital of contested Socotra island in Gulf of Aden. Govt and southern separatists 22 June agreed to ceasefire in Abyan province, de-escalation in Socotra and talks on implementation of Nov 2019 Riyadh Agreement in Riyadh; President Hadi 27 June urged STC to adhere to agreement and “stop the bloodshed”. Meanwhile, UN Envoy Martin Griffiths 21 June condemned military escalation across Yemen, urging parties to “engage constructively with the UN efforts to reach an agreement”. Health authorities as of 21 June recorded over 1,000 COVID-19 cases and 250 deaths; fatality rate four times higher than global average. Donor countries 2 June pledged $1.35bn in funding for UN humanitarian projects in Yemen, falling $1bn short of what UN aid agencies sought.

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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