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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

Unchanged Situation

Conflict Risk Alert

Withdrawal of Saudi-led coalition-aligned troops from Hodeida prompted Huthis to seize territory on Red Sea coast and close in on Marib city, raising prospect of imminent offensive or siege. Saudi-led coalition-aligned Joint Resistance Forces 12 Nov withdrew from Hodeida city to military bases in southern Hodeida and northern Taiz governorates, citing UN-brokered 2018 Stockholm Agreement; UN Mission on Hudaydah Agreement (UNMHA) denied knowledge of redeployment, 15 Nov called withdrawal “major shift” in front lines. Huthis immediately seized vacated areas, reopened road connecting Hodeida and capital Sanaa, and clashed with rival forces in al-Fazih, al-Tuhayta, al-Haima and Hays districts; local medical workers reported highest casualties on Red Sea coast since 2018. Saudi-led coalition 14 Nov launched airstrikes in Hodeida to protect aligned forces, which later initiated renewed offensive in southern Hodeida. In Marib governorate, Huthis 2 Nov announced capture of al-Jubah and Jabal Murad districts; by end of Nov, Huthis surrounded Marib city from al-Jodeida in south east, al-Jubah in south, Sirwah in west and Meghdal in north west with forces 20km from city, raising prospect of imminent offensive or siege. Elsewhere, anti-Huthi forces stepped up military campaign in western Taiz governorate, seizing territory in northern Maqabana district; Huthis 10 Nov fired missiles on Mokha city. In north, Huthis continued cross-border attacks into Saudi Arabia (see Saudi Arabia); Saudi-led coalition launched airstrikes, notably announcing strikes on Sanaa, Saada and Marib governorates 20 Nov. In south, security situation worsened; notably car bomb 9 Nov killed pregnant Yemeni journalist in Aden city. Protesters rallied in Lahij, Taiz, Abyan and Shebwa governorates over deteriorating economy and fuel prices. Tensions between Southern Transitional Council (STC) and govt continued, notably in Shebwa governorate. Amid stalled implementation of 2019 Riyadh Agreement, STC leadership 9 Nov stated “our patience has reached its limits”; most Saudi-led coalition forces 11 Nov vacated Aden – further Saudi withdrawal risks collapse of Riyadh Agreement. On diplomatic front, UN Envoy Hans Grundberg continued regional listening tour in Aden, Taiz governorate and Iranian capital Tehran. Economic situation worsened with Riyal falling to record-low, passing YR1,500 to U.S. dollar, and fuel prices reaching all-time high in south.
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Reports & Briefings

In The News

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

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

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 million people live. AFP

Peter Salisbury

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. That is a considerable prize for their side, as it would also allow them to dictate terms for an end to the war. Los Angeles Times

Peter Salisbury

Senior Analyst, Yemen
29 Jun 2021
The good news is that there is clearly more focus on direct negotiations with the Houthi leadership in Sanaa [...] The bad news is that this hasn’t yet closed the gap between the Houthis’ and the Saudis’ positions. Until that happens, we won’t see much movement. Al Jazeera

Peter Salisbury

Senior Analyst, Yemen
18 Mar 2021
There are probably multiple agendas at play in Marib but the most urgent is the Houthis' belief they can take Marib city and end the war for the north [of Yemen]. Associated Press

Peter Salisbury

Senior Analyst, Yemen

Latest Updates

A New UN Envoy is an Opportunity for a New Approach in Yemen

The UN is recruiting a new envoy to broker peace in Yemen. More important than who gets the job is how UN member states and the mediator perceive its purpose, interpretations of which have limited the UN to the flawed two-party framework adopted since 2015.  

Arresting Yemen’s Freefall

UN-led, U.S.-supported efforts to reach a nationwide ceasefire in Yemen have made little progress. In this excerpt from the Watch List 2021 – Spring Update, Crisis Group urges the EU and its member states to send more aid to Yemen, and push the UN to increase diplomatic outreach, especially to the Huthis, the Yemeni government and the Southern Transitional Council.

EU Watch List / Global

Watch List 2021 – Spring Update

Every year Crisis Group publishes two additional Watch List updates that complement its annual Watch List for the EU, most recently published in January 2021. These publications identify major crises and conflict situations where the European Union and its member states can generate stronger prospects for peace. The Spring Update of the Watch List 2021 includes entries on Bolivia, Myanmar, Nigeria, Ukraine and Yemen.

Bringing Women Back in to Yemen’s Political Process (Online Event, 20th April 2021)

Online Event to discuss International Crisis Group's report The Case for More Inclusive – and More Effective – Peacemaking in Yemen

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Peter Salisbury

Senior Analyst, Yemen
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