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.
The UN-brokered Stockholm Agreement to stop fighting around Yemen’s Red Sea city of Hodeida is faltering as violence on other front lines and across the Saudi border escalates. The UN and P5 should stabilise the Stockholm Agreement and push conflict parties toward national peace talks.
As tensions continued to rise between U.S. and Gulf states on one hand and Iran and its regional allies on other, Huthis increased pace of cross-border attacks into Saudi Arabia, provoking Riyadh to step up bombing on Huthi areas in Yemen especially on capital Sanaa; further attacks could fuel escalation in July (see Iran). Huthis launched missile and drone strikes on Abha and Najran airports in Saudi Arabia, attacking Abha airport 12, 14, 15 and 23 June. In retaliation, Riyadh intensified bombing campaign in Huthi areas, particularly Sanaa. U.S. late May said Huthi cross-border attacks were part of Iranian regional campaign against Saudi and U.S. interests; Saudi officials described Huthis as Iran-backed terrorists. United Arab Emirates (UAE) has drawn down some forces along Red Sea coast, removed heavy weaponry from Hodeida and repatriated missile system, likely mitigating immediate risk that major fighting resumes in Hodeida. Following govt’s criticism of UN in wake of Huthi unilateral redeployment from Red Sea ports mid-May, international pressure on President Hadi helped avert collapse of UN-led effort to demilitarise Hodeida. After Hadi late May said he would meet UN Envoy Martin Griffiths, Griffiths 26 June met VP al-Ahmar to discuss implementation of Dec 2018 Stockholm Agreement. U.S. 16 June said Huthi surface-to-air missile had 6 June shot down U.S. drone over Yemen. World Food Programme 20 June began phased suspension of food aid deliveries in Huthi-controlled territory after negotiations between WFP and Huthi leadership repeatedly failed to resolve issue of Huthi aid diversion. Fighting reported 20 June around Ataq, capital of Shabwa governorate, between govt and UAE-backed secessionist forces, followed by pro-secessionist protests. Fighting also reported in Hodeida, Hajja, al-Dhale and al-Bayda governorates; pro-govt forces 27 June repelled Huthi offensive targeting residential areas in Hodeida outskirts, reportedly inflicting heavy casualties. Saudi military 25 June announced capture of Abu Osama al-Muhajer, Islamic State’s (ISIS) leader in Yemen, and three other associates.
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.
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.
There has been a great deal of speculation around the reported UAE drawdown in Yemen. UAE objective has been consistent for 2 years: wind down involvement in the Huthi conflict.
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.
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.
After visiting Aden with a Crisis Group team doing field research and advocacy in Yemen’s interim capital, our Yemen expert Peter Salisbury shares his images of a city struggling to get back on its feet nearly four years after Huthi forces were pushed out.
The scars in the country run deep – and the U.S. shares responsibility.
This is the eighth briefing note in Crisis Group’s Yemen Campaign. This week, we explain why ending the internal conflict in Taiz should be a priority step toward national-level peacebuilding efforts.
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.