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Yemen

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

Unchanged Situation

Huthis escalated their military offensive in Marib governorate while UN peace efforts remained deadlocked. In north, following end of Eid al-Adha holiday, Huthis 2 Aug ramped up their multi-front military campaign to take control of oil-rich Marib governorate – Hadi govt’s last major urban stronghold in north Yemen – and surrounding governorates with sustained attacks on tribal and govt positions in al-Jawf, Marib and al-Bayda governorates. Huthis and govt both claimed to have inflicted significant losses on rival forces in al-Jawf throughout month. Saudi-led coalition 20 Aug said it intercepted drone launched by Huthis from capital Sanaa, reflecting recent trend of intensifying cross-border attacks. In south, Riyadh 2 Aug helped broker agreement between Hadi govt and separatist Southern Transitional Council (STC) over reappointment of current PM Maen Abdulmalik Saeed as well as appointment of pro-STC governor and neutral security chief in Aden city, but within days clashes between two sides broke out again in southern governorate of Abyan. STC 25 Aug announced it had withdrawn from Nov 2019 Riyadh agreement, citing “irresponsible behaviour by parties”. Tensions among anti-Huthi groups intensified after clashes erupted in Taiz city between pro-govt forces allied with Islah, Yemen’s main Sunni Islamist party, and rival groups with ties to United Arab Emirates, in early August. Huthis and Hadi govt intensified their criticisms of UN Special Envoy Martin Griffiths for alleged bias: Huthis accused UN of lack of balance following UN report on violations of children rights officially published 23 Aug, while Hadi govt rejected UN’s July peace proposal on grounds it “undermines the govt’s sovereignty”. Meanwhile, Huthis 15 Aug reportedly agreed to issue visas to team of UN technical experts to inspect floating oil storage facility, FSO Safer, off coast of Huthi-held Hodeida port; facility reportedly holds around 1mn barrels of oil at risk of leaking, threatening closure of port. Huthis 20 Aug announced that security operation in al-Baydah province consolidated territorial control, and killed Islamic State (ISIS) leader Abu Al-Walid Al-Adani.

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Reports & Briefings

In The News

14 Apr 2020
The prospect of the coronavirus spreading in Yemen offers a moment and indeed a humanitarian imperative to revive a political process. Reuters

April Longley Alley

Deputy Program Director, Middle East and North Africa
10 Apr 2020
Implementing a cease-fire [between Saudi Arabia and Yemen] is no small matter, and the first test of this is going to be whether the parties show up for this virtual meeting. New York Times

April Longley Alley

Deputy Program Director, Middle East and North Africa
15 Mar 2020
Now [Yemen's] fate is linked to a much bigger picture in a three-dimensional chess game. The Guardian

Peter Salisbury

Senior Analyst, Yemen
25 Feb 2020
[The Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula] hasn’t posed the kind of threat to the West it did a decade ago in a number of years. Washington Post

Peter Salisbury

Senior Analyst, Yemen
4 Feb 2020
For now, neither the Houthis nor the Saudis wish to abandon the talks, but the de-escalation process is under severe strain. Washington Post

— Crisis Group Alert

27 Oct 2019
A successful agreement [between the Yemeni government and southern secessionists] would keep a lid on violence long enough to allow progress in other parts of the country. Financial Times

April Longley Alley

Deputy Program Director, Middle East and North Africa

Latest Updates

Podcast / Africa

Hold Your Fire: Ethiopia's Political Crisis

In this podcast series, Crisis Group President Rob Malley and Board Member Naz Modirzadeh, a Harvard professor of international law and armed conflict, dive deep into the conflicts that rage around the globe, along with Crisis Group field analysts and special guests. This week, they discuss U.S. support for the Yemen war and the absence of the Palestinian issue from the normalisation agreement among Israel, the UAE and Bahrain. Crisis Group's Senior Analyst for Ethiopia, Will Davison, also joins them to discuss the challenges facing Ethiopia.

From Bad to Worse in Yemen

In Yemen, COVID-19 threatens to ravage what is already one of the world’s most vulnerable populations. In this excerpt from the Spring Edition of our Watch List 2020 for European policymakers, Crisis Group urges the EU to encourage greater inclusion in UN-led efforts to secure a ceasefire and settlement talks, and to increase humanitarian funding for Yemen in light of the pandemic.

Behind the Front Lines in Yemen’s Marib

Just before major battles in northern Yemen and the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, Crisis Group expert Peter Salisbury travelled to Marib, the government’s last stronghold. He found a region coping well with massive displacement but fearing a settlement that would favour the advancing Huthis.

Also available in العربية

Preventing a Deadly Showdown in Northern Yemen

A Huthi offensive threatens to engulf Marib, a province controlled by Yemen’s internationally recognised government and full of internally displaced people. Outside powers should act now to halt the fighting, which could deepen the existing humanitarian crisis and ruin peace efforts elsewhere in the country.

Also available in العربية

Breaking A Renewed Conflict Cycle in Yemen

Heavy fighting has started again in Yemen after one of the war’s quietest months. Battles on the northern front lines highlight the flaws of the piecemeal approach to negotiating an end to the war – and the pressing need for a coordinated multi-track effort.

Also available in العربية

Our People

April Longley Alley

Deputy Program Director, Middle East and North Africa

Peter Salisbury

Senior Analyst, Yemen
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