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 Stockholm Agreement, though imprecise, offers a real shot at building a peace process for war-ravaged Yemen. But the accord is faltering amid mutual recriminations. The UN, and the wider international community, should act now to make sure the combatants follow through on their commitments.
At UN-led peace consultations in Sweden, govt and Huthis agreed to withdraw forces from Hodeida city and port, and wider Red Sea trade corridor. If ceasefire in Hodeida governorate holds, further talks planned for Jan could open path to wider de-escalation, but if it fails or implementation falters, rival forces could restart battle for Hodeida port and city. Consultations led by UN special envoy Martin Griffiths 6-13 Dec culminated in Stockholm Agreement comprising agreement on Hodeida city and Hodeida, Salif and Ras Issa ports; agreement for prisoner exchange; and statement of understanding on city of Taiz. Texts said parties made deals for humanitarian purposes only and are not to be seen as part of broader political process. Hodeida and ports agreement includes ceasefire; withdrawal of all forces from city and ports to agreed-upon locations within 21 days of start of ceasefire; and agreement for revenue from ports to flow to Hodeida branch of Central Bank. Parties agreed to reconvene in Jan in yet to be agreed location to discuss framework for political negotiations. Ceasefire in Hodeida governorate took effect 18 Dec and held with mostly minor violations till end-month. UN Security Council 21 Dec passed UK-drafted resolution that calls on all parties to uphold Stockholm Agreement; on UN to oversee implementation; and on parties to keep working with UN envoy Griffiths to stabilise economy and reopen Sanaa airport. Resolution approves 30-day deployment of UN team to monitor ceasefire in Hodeida region. UN source and Huthis 29 Dec said Huthi forces had begun withdrawing from Hodeida port as per Stockholm Agreement. Redeployment Coordination Committee including govt and Huthi representatives will oversee ceasefire and demilitarisation, and report weekly to UN Security Council. In largely symbolic move, U.S. Senate 13 Dec passed bill that, if enacted, would end all U.S. military support for Saudi-led campaign in Yemen. New U.S. House of Representatives will consider legislation in 2019.
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.
Yemen's outlook is bleak. It is crucial that the opposing blocs and their regional allies commit to a political process to resolve the conflict, but there is no end in sight. The immediate priority should be an agreement on humanitarian aid and commercial goods for areas where civilians are under siege.
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.
Wednesday's vote sends an important and long overdue message that it's time for the U.S. to end its participation in the conflict in Yemen.
If the Hodeida offensive resumes and leads to an all-out battle, then millions of people in Yemen will plunge into outright famine. That must be averted.
Yemen talks in Sweden are consultations — pre-talk talks rather than a full-blown peace process. So our expectations shouldn't be that they will end with a deal.
Preliminary peace consultations on Yemen are scheduled to start in Stockholm on 6 December. This is the second attempt in three months to jump-start talks. Crisis Group consultant Peter Salisbury explains why the Sweden talks are so important and what could go wrong.
By an unexpectedly large margin, the U.S. Senate voted on 29 November to move ahead with a bill to end U.S. involvement in the Yemen war. Crisis Group calls on the key actors to seize this opportunity to suspend the fighting and pursue peace in earnest.
When the plan for consultations between Yemen's warring parties, scheduled to begin in Geneva on 8 September, collapsed, the frozen battle for the Red Sea port of Hodeida resumed. It could prove fatal for many of the millions already on the brink of starvation.
The UN special envoy to Yemen has invited the principal parties in the country’s civil war to Geneva for “consultations”. With the war rapidly approaching its fifth year, Crisis Group Consultant Peter Salisbury explains why any such Geneva talks are important and what should happen next.