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

Backchannel talks between Huthis and Saudi Arabia intensified amid steady rise in skirmishes along front lines, while Saudi-Emirati ten-sions rose over influence in Hadramawt governorate.

Huthis and Saudi Arabia pursued dialogue to reinstate truce. After Omani medi-ators 10 Jan arrived in capital Sanaa, Huthi chief negotiator 15 Jan called talks with Omanis “serious and positive” but group warned of military escalation if their condi-tions are not met. Govt remained excluded from talks, raising fears that Riyadh could make unacceptable concessions. UN Special Envoy Hans Grundberg 16 Jan visited Sanaa to discuss truce restoration with Huthi officials and same day briefed UN Se-curity Council, reporting “potential step change” in conflict’s trajectory. Meanwhile, low-scale fighting along key front lines in Saada, Marib, Taiz, al-Dhale and Hodeida continued to steadily rise, raising threat of miscalculation and renewed conflict. Head of Presidential Leadership Council (PLC) Al-Alimi late Jan established Nation Shield Forces, new military units under his direct command.

Emirati-backed groups sought to shift balance of power in Hadramawt. South-ern Transitional Council (STC) – backed by United Arab Emirates (UAE) – 3 Jan mobilised protesters in Seyoun city demanding replacement of Islah-affiliated First Military Region with UAE-aligned Hadrami Elite Forces. Local tribal bloc Hadra-mawt Tribes Confederation denounced STC moves. In sign of unity with First Mili-tary Region, Saudi delegation 10 Jan met Hadramawt governor. STC’s efforts to es-tablish military presence in areas with strong historical ties to Saudi Arabia could mark beginning of UAE-led initiative to uproot Saudi-backed Islah from Hadra-mawt, threatening localised conflict.

Govt continued active diplomatic engagement amid economic deterioration. U.S. Special Envoy Timothy Lenderking and U.S. Ambassador to Yemen Steven Fagin 6 Jan met al-Alimi and PM Maeen Abdulmalik Saeed to mobilise internation-al support for govt; al-Alimi 10 Jan met U.S., UK, French and European Union am-bassadors. PLC members and govt officials 8 Jan met in Saudi capital Riyadh to dis-cuss stabilising economy and govt initiative to lower exchange rates against U.S. dol-lar. Following Huthi-enforced halt to oil exports, govt 8 Jan approved increase of customs exchange rates from 500 to 750 riyals; STC immediately called for reversal as fuel and other commodity prices spiked.

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In The News

22 Oct 2022
The temporary cessation of hostilities in Yemen, the longest since the start of the war, has given Yemeni civilians much-needed breathing room after eight years of war. Dawn

Veena Ali-Khan

Researcher, Yemen
9 Jul 2022
The Huthis and the government [in Yemen] both accuse one another of taking advantage of the unprecedented peace-period to buy time and prepare for a fresh offensive. Devex

Veena Ali-Khan

Researcher, Yemen
7 Apr 2022
The announcement that [Yemen's President] Hadi is ceding his powers to a presidential council made up of key political and military figures with direct roles on the groun... Al Jazeera

Peter Salisbury

Former Senior Analyst, Yemen
3 Nov 2021
From an Iranian perspective, their ally in Yemen the Houthis appear very close in effect to winning the war in the north, if not the entire country. Reuters

Peter Salisbury

Former Senior Analyst, Yemen
24 Sep 2021
If anything, it is amazing how little the pandemic has affected the fighting [in Yemen]. The New York Times

Peter Salisbury

Former Senior Analyst, Yemen
12 Sep 2021
The Huthis [in Yemen] have gone from being a relatively contained rebel movement to de facto authorities who (control) the capital and territory where more than 20 millio... AFP

Peter Salisbury

Former Senior Analyst, Yemen

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Veena Ali-Khan

Researcher, Yemen
Veena Ali-Khan

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