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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

As tensions continued to rise between U.S. and Gulf states on one hand and Iran and its regional allies on other, Huthis increased pace of cross-border attacks into Saudi Arabia, provoking Riyadh to step up bombing on Huthi areas in Yemen especially on capital Sanaa; further attacks could fuel escalation in July (see Iran). Huthis launched missile and drone strikes on Abha and Najran airports in Saudi Arabia, attacking Abha airport 12, 14, 15 and 23 June. In retaliation, Riyadh intensified bombing campaign in Huthi areas, particularly Sanaa. U.S. late May said Huthi cross-border attacks were part of Iranian regional campaign against Saudi and U.S. interests; Saudi officials described Huthis as Iran-backed terrorists. United Arab Emirates (UAE) has drawn down some forces along Red Sea coast, removed heavy weaponry from Hodeida and repatriated missile system, likely mitigating immediate risk that major fighting resumes in Hodeida. Following govt’s criticism of UN in wake of Huthi unilateral redeployment from Red Sea ports mid-May, international pressure on President Hadi helped avert collapse of UN-led effort to demilitarise Hodeida. After Hadi late May said he would meet UN Envoy Martin Griffiths, Griffiths 26 June met VP al-Ahmar to discuss implementation of Dec 2018 Stockholm Agreement. U.S. 16 June said Huthi surface-to-air missile had 6 June shot down U.S. drone over Yemen. World Food Programme 20 June began phased suspension of food aid deliveries in Huthi-controlled territory after negotiations between WFP and Huthi leadership repeatedly failed to resolve issue of Huthi aid diversion. Fighting reported 20 June around Ataq, capital of Shabwa governorate, between govt and UAE-backed secessionist forces, followed by pro-secessionist protests. Fighting also reported in Hodeida, Hajja, al-Dhale and al-Bayda governorates; pro-govt forces 27 June repelled Huthi offensive targeting residential areas in Hodeida outskirts, reportedly inflicting heavy casualties. Saudi military 25 June announced capture of Abu Osama al-Muhajer, Islamic State’s (ISIS) leader in Yemen, and three other associates.

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Reports & Briefings

In The News

5 Jul 2019
There has been a great deal of speculation around the reported UAE drawdown in Yemen. UAE objective has been consistent for 2 years: wind down involvement in the Huthi conflict. Twitter

Elizabeth Dickinson

Senior Analyst, Arabian Peninsula
24 Mar 2019
There have been delays, obstacles, and backtracking, but what is unchanged is that the parties [in Yemen] still view the [Sweden] agreement as their best option. AFP

Elizabeth Dickinson

Senior Analyst, Arabian Peninsula
13 Mar 2019
With the Senate voting to end U.S. support for the war in Yemen, I am hopeful we are starting down a path of real progress towards peace. Twitter

Daniel Schneiderman

Deputy Program Director, United States
18 Feb 2019
It's encouraging news that [the agreement to pull forces out of Hodeida] has happened, as people had been losing faith in the process, causing fears that we'd soon see a return to combat in and around Hodeida. The Washington Post

Peter Salisbury

Consulting Senior Analyst, Yemen
18 Dec 2018
But it’s important to note that the deal [struck in Stockholm] is quite specific in saying that this is not part of a wider peace process: It’s an agreement made for humanitarian rather than political reasons. Associated Press

Peter Salisbury

Consulting Senior Analyst, Yemen
14 Dec 2018
Ce vote [du Sénat américain, qui demande l'arrêt du soutien des Etats-Unis à la coalition internationale au Yémen] envoie un message puissant de la part des Etats-Unis à la coalition" saoudienne. AFP

Daniel Schneiderman

Deputy Program Director, United States

Latest Updates

Picturing Aden’s Fragile Recovery

After visiting Aden with a Crisis Group team doing field research and advocacy in Yemen’s interim capital, our Yemen expert Peter Salisbury shares his images of a city struggling to get back on its feet nearly four years after Huthi forces were pushed out.

Also available in العربية
Report / United States

Ending the Yemen Quagmire: Lessons for Washington from Four Years of War

Two successive U.S. administrations have backed the Saudi-led coalition’s intervention in Yemen, helping deepen the world’s worst humanitarian crisis. Congress should continue pressing the White House to end this support, while working to strengthen its war powers role in the future.

Yemen Cannot Afford to Wait

The scars in the country run deep – and the U.S. shares responsibility.

Also available in العربية

Crisis Group Yemen Update #8

This is the eighth briefing note in Crisis Group’s Yemen Campaign. This week, we explain why ending the internal conflict in Taiz should be a priority step toward national-level peacebuilding efforts.

Crisis Group Yemen Update #7

This is the seventh weekly briefing note as part of Crisis Group’s Yemen Campaign. This week, we look at how tribal dynamics in the north could affect the stalled peace process.

Our People

April Longley Alley

Deputy Program Director, Middle East and North Africa

Peter Salisbury

Consulting Senior Analyst, Yemen