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.
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.
Originally published in Foreign Policy
Saudi Arabia-led coalition continued offensive toward Hodeida from south and north along Red Sea coast. Saudi-led coalition forces around Midi north of Hodeida remained largely static while UAE-assisted Yemeni forces pushing northward made progress and mid-Feb appeared to have captured Mokha city, Taiz governorate. Huthi rebels and forces aligned with former President Saleh put up strong resistance, 22 Feb killed army’s second in command near Mokha. Huthi-Saleh forces increased raids across Yemeni-Saudi border and ballistic missile attacks into Saudi Arabia; 6 Feb said they had launched missile capable of striking Saudi capital Riyadh. U.S. increased in-flight refuelling of Saudi-led coalition aircraft and worked to reverse Obama administration’s decisions to limit weapons sales to Saudi Arabia. Infighting plagued govt-controlled areas: supporters of UAE-aligned Salafi faction clashed repeatedly in Taiz city with Saudi-backed group aligned with Sunni Islamist party, Islah; President Hadi-aligned fighters 12 Feb tried, unsuccessfully, to forcibly take Aden airport from commander who had fallen out with president; during offensive UAE gunship exchanged fire with Hadi-aligned fighters.
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.
Yemen is now at war. Fuelled by Saudi-Iranian rivalry and a violent jihadi upsurge, fighting is fragmenting the country and could spread beyond if parties do not immediately de-escalate and – with the support of Gulf neighbours – return to negotiations on a compromised, power-sharing leadership.
Continued fighting between Huthis and their various opponents could lead to a major conflagration, further undermining the Yemen’s troubled political transition.
Yemen must agree on its state structure, including the South’s status, to forge a stable future. A final agreement cannot be forced by the National Dialogue Conference; for some key issues, only continued, more inclusive talks in the context of confidence-building measures can succeed.
Yemen must take further steps to reform its security forces, or longstanding divisions could well undermine its political transition, which entered into a six-month “national dialogue” on 18 March.
The story of the Houthis' rise to power [in Yemen] shows that they are motivated primarily by a domestic agenda, rather than a regional one.
The [Huthis] almost certainly receive some smuggled weapons, but these are not decisive in their ability to continue the war [in Yemen].
The [recent U.S.] raid ignores the local political context in Yemen, to the detriment of an effective counter-terrorism strategy.
The use of U.S. troops and the high number of civilian casualties . . . are deeply inflammatory and breed anti-American resentment across the Yemeni political spectrum that works to the advantage of AQAP.
The longer the war continues in Yemen, the stronger al-Qaeda is likely to get.
It seems that now the [Yemeni] government and coalition are determined to try to break the military stalemate and bring [the Houthi-Saleh bloc] back to talks in a weaker position.
As Yemen's unremitting conflict continues to drive a nation-wide humanitarian crisis, there is an ever-increasing need to quell hostilities. In this excerpt from our Watch List 2017 annual early-warning report for European policy makers, Crisis Group urges the European Union and its member states to rebuild the credibility of the UN-sponsored talks in order to find a durable ceasefire and work toward a political settlement within Yemen.
Le nombre élevé de victimes du raid antiterroriste américain du 1er février au Yémen risque d’aggraver plutôt que d’aider à résoudre un conflit qui est la raison principale de l’expansion d’Al-Qaida dans la péninsule arabique (AQPA) dans ce pays dévasté. Sous forme de questions-réponses, April Longley Alley explique pourquoi.
Originally published in Orient XXI
The bombing of a funeral has empowered the country's worst forces and could drag America into the fray.
Originally published in The Washington Post
In a keynote speech for the World Water Week in Stockholm on 28 August 2016, our MENA Program Director Joost Hiltermann assesses the role of water in Middle East conflicts – even, potentially, when used in the cultivation of Yemen’s beloved stimulant, qat.