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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

Improved Situation

Resolution Opportunity

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.

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Reports & Briefings

In The News

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
1 Dec 2018
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. Middle East Eye

Stephen Pomper

Program Director, United States
30 Nov 2018
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. NPR

Joost Hiltermann

Program Director, Middle East and North Africa
29 Nov 2018
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. Axios

Daniel Schneiderman

Deputy Program Director, United States

Latest Updates

Yemen: Giving Peace a Chance?

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.

Statement / United States

Six Steps to Make the Most of the U.S. Senate’s Yemen Vote

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.

How to Halt Yemen’s Slide into Famine

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.

Also available in العربية

Yemen’s Hodeida Offensive: Once Avoidable, Now Imminent

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.

Also available in العربية

Is the Yemen Peace Process Coming Back to Life?

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.

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Peter Salisbury

Consulting Senior Analyst, Yemen