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.
This is Crisis Group’s tenth update on recent developments in Yemen, focusing on al-Dhale in the south. A ceasefire in Hodeida notwithstanding, violence is on the rise on other key front lines and could undermine prospects for a future peace process.
Fighting escalated along multiple front lines as negotiations over military redeployments around Hodeida remained stalled, increasing risk that fighting resumes there, while tensions within anti-Huthi camp could spark further conflict in south. Govt and Huthi delegates to UN-led Redeployment Coordination Committee, body tasked with implementing Hodeida agreement, agreed plan for first phase of redeployments 13 April. But both govt and Huthis said phase one will not take place until they agree on phase two redeployments and on composition of local security forces due to control of city and ports after redeployments. Violence around Hodeida continued while clashes escalated along Red Sea coast, in particular in Tuhayta and Hays districts. UK FM Hunt 26 April held meeting in London with Saudi and Emirati counterparts and U.S. and UN representatives to discuss next steps in UN-led process. Fighting intensified across much of country, including in Hajja governorate in north west along border with Saudi Arabia, and in al-Jawf governorate in north. Coalition airstrikes on capital Sanaa 10 April reportedly killed thirteen, highest number of civilian casualties in capital in over a year. Clashes between Huthis and southern fighters also intensified in al-Dalia governorate in south. Secessionists allied to Southern Transitional Council (STC), organisation working for secession of south, accused army of withdrawing from key positions and ceding ground to Huthis, exacerbating tensions between rival factions in anti-Huthi bloc. President Hadi 13 April held parliamentary session in Seyoun in east; pro-STC activists organised protests against meeting, having said they would block proposed session in Aden. Huthis also opposed what they called “illegitimate” session on grounds that it did not meet quorum; Huthis responded with elections for 24 parliamentary seats in areas they controlled. U.S. President Trump 16 April vetoed War Powers Resolution that would have withdrawn U.S. support to Saudi-led coalition, despite U.S. Congress passing bipartisan bill 5 April.
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.
A Saudi-led coalition attack on the city of Hodeida risks plunging millions of Yemenis into famine and will meet fierce resistance from Huthi rebels. The U.S. should stop enabling coalition offensives and international stakeholders must quickly place Hodeida under UN control.
More than three years into Yemen’s war, a bloody battle looms for the Huthi-held port city of Hodeida. International leaders should work for a UN-led negotiated settlement to stop the offensive and, if this fails, take steps to avoid deepening what is already the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.
Since August, a public rift has surfaced between the two main partners on the northern front of Yemen’s war – the forces loyal to the Huthis and Ali Abdullah Saleh. Rather than fostering its rivals’ discord, key powerbroker Saudi Arabia should seize this rare chance to resolve the two-and-a-half year war by championing a new regional initiative.
War is denying Yemenis food to eat. This special briefing, the first of four examining the famine threats there and in South Sudan, Nigeria and Somalia, urges the Saudi-led coalition not to assault Yemen’s most important port, Hodeida, and both sides to immediately resolve deadlock over the Central Bank.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
If we take past as precedent [in Yemen], and the situation on the ground, all indicators point toward not much coming out of the talks and a resumption of fighting in Hodeida.
This is International Crisis Group’s eleventh regular update on the war in Yemen. This week, we focus on the first step towards force redeployments in Hodeida and the response of the UN Security Council.
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.
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.
This is the sixth weekly briefing note in Crisis Group’s Yemen Campaign. This week, we look at how economic issues will affect future peacebuilding efforts.