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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

Deteriorated Situation

Conflict Risk Alert

Fighting escalated in Taiz and Hajja governorates and continued elsewhere, and implementation of Dec Stockholm Agreement stalled, raising risk that warring parties resume combat around Hodeida port and city. Govt and Huthis failed to redeploy forces away from front-line positions in and around Hodeida, as agreed in Feb, as both sides raised objections to redeployment plan; primary point of contention was composition of local security forces due to assume control of city and ports after redeployment. UK FM Hunt 3 March warned Stockholm process “could be dead within weeks” if sides did not stick to commitments. U.S. Envoy Matthew Tueller 21 March publicly blamed Huthis for delays in implementation and said weapons in non-state actors’ possession posed threat to “neighbouring countries”. Huthis 17 March said they had intelligence that Saudi-led coalition planned to escalate violence in Hodeida and that they were ready to strike capitals of Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates if implementation of deal is breached. Other components of Stockholm Agreement also remained stalled, including prisoner exchange and talks over contested city of Taiz in south. Fighting escalated in Taiz in second part of month between nominally allied pro-govt Yemeni groups; medical facilities late March received two dead and 49 wounded in four days. After flaring in Feb, fighting intensified in Hajja governorate in north west between al-Hajour tribes and Huthis; UN 11 March reported 22 civilians killed in attacks in Hajja’s Kushar district, and Saudi-led coalition reported Huthi shelling of houses killed several tribesmen. Huthis prevailed in Kushar, allegedly killing several key local leaders. NGO Save the Children said missile 26 March struck petrol station near entrance to hospital it supports about 100km from Saada in north killing seven people, including four children; U.S. 28 March urged Saudi-led coalition to conduct transparent investigation into bombing. U.S. Senate 13 March adopted resolution aimed at ending U.S. support to Saudi-led coalition in Yemen; legislation President Trump has said he would veto. Germany 6 March extended temporary ban on arms exports to Saudi Arabia until end month, citing concerns over Saudi Arabia’s conduct in Yemen.

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Reports & Briefings

In The News

24 Mar 2019
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. AFP

Elizabeth Dickinson

Senior Analyst, Arabian Peninsula
13 Mar 2019
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. Twitter

Daniel Schneiderman

Deputy Program Director, United States
18 Feb 2019
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. The Washington Post

Peter Salisbury

Consulting Senior Analyst, Yemen
18 Dec 2018
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. Associated Press

Peter Salisbury

Consulting Senior Analyst, Yemen
14 Dec 2018
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. AFP

Daniel Schneiderman

Deputy Program Director, United States
4 Dec 2018
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. New York Times

Peter Salisbury

Analyst, Yemen

Latest Updates

Report / United States

Ending the Yemen Quagmire: Lessons for Washington from Four Years of War

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.

Crisis Group Yemen Update #7

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.

Crisis Group Yemen Update #6

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.

Crisis Group Yemen Update #5

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.

Crisis Group Yemen Update #4

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.

Our People

April Longley Alley

Deputy Program Director, Middle East and North Africa

Peter Salisbury

Consulting Senior Analyst, Yemen