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.
The outgoing Trump administration has designated Yemen’s Huthi rebels a terrorist organisation. Proponents argue the measure will provide leverage with the Huthis, but in reality it will hurt efforts to end the war and could precipitate famine. The incoming Biden administration should rescind it immediately.
Originally published in Yemen Policy Center
Deadly bombing in Aden city overshadowed long-awaited progress toward implementing Riyadh Agreement, while fighting in north continued. In positive step, govt and pro-independence Southern Transitional Council (STC) moved toward implementation of Nov 2019 Riyadh Agreement after Saudi officials 17 Dec announced both sides’ military and security forces had redeployed from Aden and key front lines in Abyan governorate, east of Aden, where new security cordon had been formed by non-aligned Salafist fighters previously based along Yemen’s Red Sea coast; Yemeni state media 18 Dec also announced formation of long-awaited 24-minister cabinet led by returning PM Maen Saeed Abdulmalek to be based in temporary capital Aden. Multiple explosions 30 Dec however rocked Aden airport as new cabinet arrived and disembarked plane, killing at least 26 people and injuring more than 100; second attack reportedly struck Aden’s Mashiq Palace, where cabinet due to be based. In north, after seizing key military base west of Marib city in Nov, Huthi fighters intensified attacks throughout month in southern and north-western Marib; STC-linked forces in al-Dhale governorate in early Dec reported wave of Huthi attacks on front lines between their governorate and Huthi-held Ibb governorate. In south, tensions mounted between govt-affiliated forces and STC over United Arab Emirates (UAE)’s control of two military bases in Shebwa governorate; local media 14 Dec reported exchange of artillery fire around major gas export facility overseen by French oil company Total at Balhaf town in Shebwa governorate; French parliamentarians 12 Dec demanded review of UAE control of terminal, citing concerns over allegations of torture at base. Meanwhile, fears persisted throughout month of potentially imminent U.S. decision to designate Huthis as foreign terrorist organisation that could further dent prospects for stalled UN peace process; Washington 10 Dec sanctioned three Huthi security officials for alleged human rights abuses. Saudi and U.S. officials mid-month blamed Huthis for 13 Dec attack on oil tanker off the port of Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, although Huthis denied responsibility. Saudi and Yemeni govt officials blamed Huthis for what they termed “terrorist” attack on Aden airport on 30 Dec, strengthening case for U.S. designation.
Yemen’s terrible war grinds on, despite a COVID-19 epidemic that has deepened what was already the world’s worst humanitarian crisis. Stopping the fighting is urgent. Diplomats should adopt an inclusive, multiparty framework for talks to replace today’s flawed model.
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.
The UN General Assembly kicks off on 17 September amid general scepticism about the world body’s effectiveness in an era of rising great-power competition. But the UN is far from paralysed. Here are seven crisis spots where it can make a positive difference for peace.
Yemen’s anti-Huthi coalition has begun to splinter, with sharp fighting between Saudi- and Emirati-backed elements in the country’s south. With UN assistance, the Gulf monarchies should urgently broker a ceasefire as a prelude to an expanded peace process encompassing southern secessionists and others now excluded.
The UN-brokered Stockholm Agreement to stop fighting around Yemen’s Red Sea city of Hodeida is faltering as violence on other front lines and across the Saudi border escalates. The UN and P5 should stabilise the Stockholm Agreement and push conflict parties toward national peace talks.
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.
The prospect of the coronavirus spreading in Yemen offers a moment and indeed a humanitarian imperative to revive a political process.
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.
Now [Yemen's] fate is linked to a much bigger picture in a three-dimensional chess game.
[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.
For now, neither the Houthis nor the Saudis wish to abandon the talks, but the de-escalation process is under severe strain.
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.
This week on Hold Your Fire!, Rob Malley and Naz Modirzadeh talk with New York Times cybersecurity reporter Sheera Frenkel about the role that social media platforms played in the mob assault on the U.S. Capitol and the ways that online disinformation fuels conflict worldwide.
In this week’s episode of Hold Your Fire!, Aaron Miller, a veteran U.S. diplomat, unpacks President Trump’s unconventional foreign relations with our President Rob Malley and co-host Naz Modirzadeh, a Harvard professor of international law and armed conflict.
In this podcast series, Crisis Group President Rob Malley and Board Member Naz Modirzadeh, a Harvard professor of international law and armed conflict, dive deep into the conflicts that rage around the globe, along with Crisis Group field analysts and special guests. This week, they discuss U.S. support for the Yemen war and the absence of the Palestinian issue from the normalisation agreement among Israel, the UAE and Bahrain. Crisis Group's Senior Analyst for Ethiopia, Will Davison, also joins them to discuss the challenges facing Ethiopia.
Online Event to discuss International Crisis Group's report "Rethinking Peace in Yemen".
In Yemen, COVID-19 threatens to ravage what is already one of the world’s most vulnerable populations. In this excerpt from the Spring Edition of our Watch List 2020 for European policymakers, Crisis Group urges the EU to encourage greater inclusion in UN-led efforts to secure a ceasefire and settlement talks, and to increase humanitarian funding for Yemen in light of the pandemic.