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 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.
Govt and Huthis agreed to redeploy their forces from front-line positions in and around Hodeida, opening opportunity in coming weeks to implement deal, but disagreement over details could lead to breakdown of talks and trigger fighting in and around city, and intense fighting along and across Yemen-Saudi border could escalate further. Redeployment Coordination Committee (RCC) comprising UN, govt and Huthis reached deal 16 Feb on first phase of redeployments by both sides from Red Sea ports and infrastructure around Hodeida. But debate over who will secure Hodeida once both sides have made redeployments delayed implementation. World Food Programme 26 Feb regained access, blocked for five months by fighting, to Red Sea Mills, major wheat facility in outskirts of Hodeida. UAE FM Gargash 3 Feb called for implementation of Dec Stockholm Agreement and to make 2019 “the year of peace in Yemen”. “Quad” comprising Saudi Arabia, UAE, U.S. and UK 13 Feb denounced Iranian support for Huthis and blamed latter for lack of progress in implementation of Dec agreement. Fighting intensified on Yemen-Saudi border, with govt and Huthis claiming military successes in Hajja, Saada and al-Jawf governorates; clashes escalated in Hajja in north west between al-Hajour tribesmen and Huthis. Huthi Head of Supreme Commission for Elections and Referendum (SCER) in Huthi-held capital Sanaa 1 Feb announced plans to hold elections to fill vacant seats in parliament; President Hadi 3 Feb said he would relocate SCER headquarters to Aden, as he moves to reconvene parliament in temporary capital. In Mukalla in east, Southern Transitional Council (STC), organisation working for secession of south, 16-17 Feb held third meeting of what it calls its National Assembly; its chair warned Hadi that STC would block any attempt to convene parliament in Aden. U.S. House of Representatives 13 Feb adopted resolution aimed at ending U.S. support for Saudi-led coalition. Saudi FM al-Jubeir 10 Feb denounced congressional efforts to curtail U.S. allies’ fight against “terrorist organisations supported by Iran and Hezbollah”. Moroccan officials 7 Feb said Morocco had frozen its involvement in Saudi-led coalition.
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.
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.
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.
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.
This is the fifth weekly briefing note in Crisis Group’s Yemen Campaign. This week, we look at how simmering tensions in the south of the country threaten the prospects for long-term peace, and give insight into ongoing attempts to demilitarise the country's Red Sea trade corridor.
Below is the fourth weekly update as part of Crisis Group’s Yemen Campaign. This week we look at fighting near the Saudi-Yemeni border and strains on the ceasefire around Hodeida, as well as international developments.
This is Crisis Group’s third weekly update published as part of our Yemen Campaign. The trend we identify in this edition is new hope for a political compromise to end the four-year-old civil war and ease the country’s grave humanitarian crisis.
This is Crisis Group’s second weekly update published as part of our Yemen Campaign. Prefaced with a new introductory trendline – this week, fear of famine – it provides up-to-the minute insights into the four-year-old civil war and the world’s biggest humanitarian crisis.