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

Unchanged Situation

Resolution Opportunity

Back-channel talks between Huthis and Saudi Arabia signalled deal could be reached outside stalled UN process, while Huthis attacked energy infrastructure, raising risks of front-line and regional escalation.

Huthis and Riyadh intensified back-channel negotiations away from UN process. As UN efforts to resurrect truce remained deadlocked, Huthis and Saudi Arabia intensified Oman-facilitated secret talks that excludes Presidential Leadership Council (PLC) and UN Special Envoy. Huthis demanded govt use oil and gas revenues to pay civilian and military state employees; while PLC rejected demand, Riyadh reportedly showed willingness to accommodate request provided Huthis enter political process first. Talks raise prospect of bilateral agreement that excludes PLC, which could incentivise anti-Huthi factions to act as spoilers.

Huthis attacked oil and gas infrastructure and redeployed troops on front lines. Huthis 9 Nov launched “warning shot” drone attack on Qana port in Shebwa governorate and ramped up media campaign threatening to target domestic and regional oil and gas facilities; attack disrupted crude oil exports, which is govt’s only source of revenue, and raised spectre of high-profile attack on Saudi Arabia or United Arab Emirates during World Cup. Huthis 21 Nov attacked al-Dhabba oil terminal for second time. While violence remained below pre-truce levels, tempo of skirmishes along front lines rose steadily, as Huthis sent reinforcements to Marib governorate. Unknown gunmen 8 Nov killed adviser to defence minister and his driver near Marib city. Meanwhile, UN human rights chief 4 Nov said Huthis had committed war crimes since truce’s expiry. U.S. Navy 8 Nov reported-ly intercepted shipment of missile fuel from Iran to Huthis in Gulf of Oman.

Diplomatic efforts continued to reinstate UN-brokered truce. U.S. Envoy for Yemen Timothy Lenderking 2-8 Nov visited Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates to meet Saudi, Emirati and govt officials. UN Special Envoy to Yemen Hans Grundberg 7 Nov concluded visit to Saudi capital Riyadh, where he met Saudi ambassador to Yemen who is reportedly prominently involved in back-channel talks. Meanwhile, PLC leader al-Alimi 2 Nov attended Arab summit in Algerian capital Algiers and urged member states to designate Huthis as terrorist organisation, as PLC had done in Oct.

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In The News

9 Jul 2022
The Huthis and the government [in Yemen] both accuse one another of taking advantage of the unprecedented peace-period to buy time and prepare for a fresh offensive. Devex

Veena Ali-Khan

Research Assistant, Yemen
7 Apr 2022
The announcement that [Yemen's President] Hadi is ceding his powers to a presidential council made up of key political and military figures with direct roles on the groun... Al Jazeera

Peter Salisbury

Former Senior Analyst, Yemen
3 Nov 2021
From an Iranian perspective, their ally in Yemen the Houthis appear very close in effect to winning the war in the north, if not the entire country. Reuters

Peter Salisbury

Former Senior Analyst, Yemen
24 Sep 2021
If anything, it is amazing how little the pandemic has affected the fighting [in Yemen]. The New York Times

Peter Salisbury

Former Senior Analyst, Yemen
12 Sep 2021
The Huthis [in Yemen] have gone from being a relatively contained rebel movement to de facto authorities who (control) the capital and territory where more than 20 millio... AFP

Peter Salisbury

Former Senior Analyst, Yemen
7 Jul 2021
The Houthis appear to calculate that if they win in Marib, they will have won the war for the north of Yemen while humiliating the internationally recognized president. T... Los Angeles Times

Peter Salisbury

Former Senior Analyst, Yemen

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Veena Ali-Khan

Research Assistant, Yemen
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