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I’ll use this month’s President’s Take to highlight two places where we’re worried things could fall apart further over the month ahead, at enormous human cost.

First is Yemen. The UN calls the war the world’s worst humanitarian disaster.

It has left almost a quarter of a million people dead, more than half from malnutrition and disease. Many millions more are starving, displaced or homeless. The UN’s humanitarian chief recently warned of the “worst famine the world has seen in decades”. Four hundred thousand children under the age of five are severely malnourished, he said, and “in their last weeks and months” of life.…  Seguir leyendo »

Smoke billows during clashes between forces loyal to Yemen's Saudi-backed government and Huthi rebel fighters in al-Jadaan area about 50 kilometres northwest of Marib in central Yemen on 11 February 2021. Yemen's Iran-backed Huthis rebels have resumed an AFP

In early February, the rebel Huthi movement (also known as Ansar Allah) reinvigorated its year-long offensive in Yemen’s northern governorate of Marib, launching an intense assault and making territorial and strategic gains in the province’s west. Huthi forces are now reportedly within 30km of Marib city, the ousted government’s last major northern stronghold, and the capital of a governorate whose original population of 300,000 has been swollen by internally displaced persons to perhaps as many as three million. The Huthis have signalled their clear intent to press on, absent a nationwide truce that halts Saudi airstrikes, allows them to reopen the airport in Yemen’s capital city, Sanaa, and permits them to more easily bring goods through Hodeida, the Red Sea port that they control.…  Seguir leyendo »

A Yemeni looks through the wreckage of a building after it was hit by an airstrike on the northern outskirts of the capital, Sanaa, in 2017. (Yahya Arhab/EPA)

In early February, the Biden administration announced several shifts in U.S. policy toward the war in Yemen — a conflict that has left 20 million near starvation and 80 percent of Yemen’s population dependent on humanitarian assistance. The changes include ending U.S. support for Saudi-led offensive operations; reversing the Trump administration’s last-minute designation of the Houthi forces as a foreign terrorist organization; and supporting a special envoy to Yemen and diplomatic efforts to end the conflict.

After 2015, the United States played a critical role in sustaining the Saudi-led intervention in Yemen. U.S. support provided Saudi Arabia with intelligence, targeting data, in-air refueling of Saudi aircraft (this ceased in 2018), sales of precision-guided munitions and other arms, and ongoing maintenance and support for Saudi aircraft.…  Seguir leyendo »

A woman walks in the old city of the Yemeni capital, Sanaa. July 2019. CRISISGROUP/Peter Salisbury.

In December 2018, Western and international policymakers demonstrated something that Yemenis had long suspected: when motivated by developments on the ground or at home, they can produce (some) diplomatic results, as the United States did by pressuring Saudi Arabia and by extension the internationally recognised government of Yemen into accepting the UN-brokered Stockholm Agreement. The deal, which averted a battle for the Red Sea port of Hodeida, is the signature diplomatic success story to date in the ongoing Yemeni conflict that began in late 2014. For the warring parties and to Yemeni and international observers, however, the agreement also symbolises the limits of external mediation in resolving the conflict: international pressure forced the parties to endorse the deal, but not to implement it.…  Seguir leyendo »

El conflicto de larga data en Yemen está más maduro que nunca para lograr una solución. Los distintos bandos yemeníes han quedado exhaustos por la lucha y aceptaron rápidamente el llamado en marzo de António Guterres, secretario general de las Naciones Unidas, a un alto el fuego mundial por la pandemia de la COVID-19. El mes siguiente, la coalición en Yemen liderada por los sauditas anunció un alto el fuego unilateral de dos semanas, que luego extendió.

Los bandos enfrentados ya lograron avances significativos hacia un acuerdo de alto el fuego en negociaciones coordinadas por el enviado especial para Yemen de la ONU, Martin Griffiths.…  Seguir leyendo »

A reinforcement convoy of Yemen's Security Belt Force dominated by members of the the Southern Transitional Council (STC) heading to Abyan province, Yemen. AFP/Saleh Al-OBEIDI

On 25 April, the secessionist Southern Transitional Council (STC) declared self-rule in areas of Yemen’s south that were part of an independent state prior to unification with the north in 1990. The declaration came on the heels of escalating tensions between the STC and the Yemeni government, nominal allies in the fight against Huthi rebels based in the northern highlands. It also came as the UN struggled to engineer a nationwide ceasefire and COVID-19 response plan. STC forces quickly took control of ministries, local government offices and the Central Bank building in Aden, the government’s temporary headquarters since the Huthis pushed it out of the capital Sanaa in 2015. …  Seguir leyendo »

Libyan Army soldiers wear masks to protect themselves from the coronavirus during a military operation in Tripoli, on March 25. Credit Amru Salahuddien/Anadolu Agency, via Getty Images

On a recent visit to Libya, I met a family living in an improvised shelter in a displaced persons camp east of Tripoli. One of the tens of thousands Libyan families uprooted by war, the family of seven was living in a room barely 20 paces long and half as wide. A clothesline, a pile of mattresses, a hot plate and the stench of body odor filled the room. Outside, they faced a shortage of potable water and abusive taunts from locals.

The spread of the novel coronavirus will have a devastating effect on the Middle East’s communities of refugees and migrants.…  Seguir leyendo »

Sudan’s prime minister announced last weekend that Sudan began drawing down its forces in Yemen, saying “there is no military solution” to the conflict. This marks another step in the Saudi-led coalition’s de facto drawdown, after the United Arab Emirates (UAE) announced its own withdrawal over the summer and Saudi Arabia began engaging in Oman-led peace talks with the Houthis this fall.

What does the intervening coalition’s slow but steady drawdown mean for Yemen’s civil war? While there is still a long way to go to reach a lasting peace in Yemen, this moment probably marks the beginning of the end of the war — or at least this phase of the war.…  Seguir leyendo »

Une équipe du Croissant-Rouge à Dhamar, le 1er septembre. Photo Mohamed al-Sayaghi. Reuters


En tant que Yéménite et humanitaire, je constate chaque jour l’impact de cette guerre sur la santé des Yéménites, sur l’accès à la nourriture, à l’eau potable, aux médicaments et aux structures de soins. Je vois la mise à mal de l’avenir de nos enfants, privés d’école, affamés et traumatisés psychologiquement. Comment accepter que des enfants puissent être pris pour cible ? Comment accepter qu’une femme enceinte ne puisse être suivie pendant sa grossesse ? Comment accepter que nos grands-parents ne puissent bénéficier des soins adéquats ? Il ne s’agit pas de politique, mais de la vie de 30 millions de Yéménites.…  Seguir leyendo »

Mohamed bin Zayed and Mohammed bin Salman witness the signing of the Riyadh Agreement between the Yemeni government and the Southern Transitional Council, at the Saudi Royal Diwan. SPA/Riyadh and Mohamed Bin Zayed Twitter account

The Riyadh Agreement, signed on 5 November, has averted a war within Yemen’s civil war, at least for the time being. The deal prevents a collapse of the fragile alliance of Yemeni forces that Saudi Arabia has supported since intervening in Yemen in March 2015 to prevent Huthi rebels from taking over the country. The question now is whether the agreement can act as a bridge to a nationwide political settlement or if it simply marks a pause before another round of violence.

By signing, the two parties to the agreement – the internationally recognised government of Yemen, led by President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi, and the secessionist Southern Transitional Council (STC) – have ended a three-month standoff that threatened to split the anti-Huthi bloc.…  Seguir leyendo »

Yemeni supporters of the Houthi movement take part in a rally in Sanaa on Sept. 21. Mohammed Huwais/AFP/Getty Images

With all of U.S. President Donald Trump’s troubles at home and abroad, his administration could use a win. There is low-hanging fruit in Yemen, and the ripple effects of success there could go far beyond the impoverished and war-torn country. Houthi rebels (who prefer to be called Ansar Allah) have made an offer of de-escalation that, if built on quickly, could help extract the United States from the bloody and unwinnable war that has created the world’s worst humanitarian disaster. It would reduce threats to Saudi Arabia and its oil infrastructure at a time of rising tensions with Iran. And it would open a door to wider de-escalation inside Yemen and possibly across the region.…  Seguir leyendo »

A Huthi suspension of hostilities in Yemen and an apparently positive Saudi Arabian response offer a chance to avoid regional conflagration. In this excerpt from our Watch List 2019 - Third Update for European policymakers, Crisis Group urges the EU to encourage inclusive dialogue between the warring factions, which can lead to intra-Yemeni negotiations.

This commentary is part of our Watch List 2019 - Third Update.

As 2020 approaches, Yemen confronts two acute security challenges: avoiding further entanglement in the wider regional conflict between the U.S., Saudi Arabia and Iran, and preventing a war within a war among anti-Huthi forces. On 14 September, the Huthis claimed responsibility for an attack on Saudi oil facilities that temporarily cut off nearly 50 per cent of the country’s oil production capacity.…  Seguir leyendo »

El 2 de octubre se cumple un año del brutal asesinato del periodista saudí Jamal Khashoggi en Estambul. Según concluyó un informe de la ONU, Arabia Saudí es responsable de la ejecución y existen “pruebas creíbles” que apuntan a la implicación del príncipe heredero y líder de facto del país, Mohámed bin Salmán. No es de extrañar, pues, que la imagen internacional de Arabia Saudí se haya resentido durante este año. Pero tampoco es de extrañar que, una vez remitido el temporal, ciertas dinámicas hayan retornado a sus cauces habituales.

Entre los elementos que sí que se han visto alterados, los más significativos guardan relación con la guerra de Yemen, uno de los principales escenarios del conflicto regional entre Arabia Saudí e Irán.…  Seguir leyendo »

A supporter of Houthi rebels during a gathering to mobilize more fighters into battlefronts against Saudi-backed government forces, in Sana, Yemen.CreditCreditYahya Arhab/EPA, via Shutterstock

In the fifth year of a pitiless war between Ansar Allah, the Iranian-supported movement known as the Houthis, and the Saudi Arabia-led and United States-backed coalition, Sana, the capital of Yemen, doesn’t see many American visitors. For good reason.

The Houthis control Sana and about a fifth of the country’s landmass in all; a majority of Yemen’s 30.5 million people live in Houthi-controlled areas. Misery extends far beyond. Yemen’s humanitarian crisis is ranked the world’s worst by the United Nations: Two-thirds of its population need some form of assistance, 10 million suffer malnutrition. Almost a quarter of a million are starving to death.…  Seguir leyendo »

As the United Arab Emirates draws down and redeploys its forces in Yemen, we do so in the same way we began — with eyes wide open. We understood the challenges then and we understand them today. There was no easy victory and there will be no easy peace.

But now is the time to double down on the political process. The Yemeni parties — the Houthis specifically — should see this move for what it is: a confidence-building measure to create new momentum to end the conflict. The international community also must seize the moment. It must deter any side from exploiting or undermining this opportunity, stop the Houthis from blocking aid, hasten compromise from all sides and support a determined U.N.-led…  Seguir leyendo »

Nearly six months since the so-called Stockholm agreement was signed by Yemen’s warring parties in an effort to prevent a deepening humanitarian crisis, any semblance of progress is almost dead.

The agreement, signed on Dec. 13, stipulates the redeployment of forces away from crucial sea ports in Hodeida, the formation of a joint committee to address the long-besieged Taiz and the exchange of war prisoners and political detainees. Cheered by the international community, it brought a dose of hope among observers that the first step toward peace in Yemen might be within reach.

Yet the handshake between the heads of the warring parties’ delegations is as far as either side has budged.…  Seguir leyendo »

Michael Anker Lollesgaard, Head of the United Nations Mission in support of the Hodeida Agreement (UNMHA), speaks during a press conference to welcome the handover of the port of Hodeida on 14 May 2019, in the Yemeni port city. AFP

This week, we focus on the first step towards force redeployments in Hodeida and the response of the UN Security Council.

Trendline: Unilateral Redeployment

Five months after the UN brokered an agreement to demilitarise the Red Sea port city of Hodeida, there has finally been movement on the ground. Yet not everyone is happy.

Briefing the UN Security Council on 15 May, Special Envoy Martin Griffiths announced that military forces loyal to the Huthi (Ansar Allah) movement had withdrawn from the three main ports on Yemen’s Red Sea coast – Hodeida, Ras Issa and Saleef – in a first step towards implementing the Stockholm Agreement he brokered in December 2018.…  Seguir leyendo »

Yemeni insurgent groups take security measures at the entrance to Aden, in the city of Ad Dali against Houthis on 12 April 2015, as the clashes continue between Loyalists of embattled President Abd Rabbuh Mansour Hadi and Yemen's Shiite Houthi movement. Wail Shaif Thabet / Anadolu Agency

This week we are focusing on al-Dhale in the south. A ceasefire in Hodeida notwithstanding, violence is on the rise on other key front lines and could undermine prospects for a future peace process.

Fighting between Huthi (Ansar Allah) and United Arab Emirates (UAE)-backed forces is intensifying in the southern governorate of al-Dhale. Battles have cut off key transit routes connecting the southern port city of Aden, the Huthi-held capital of Sanaa in the north, and the central governorate of Taiz, which houses important food processing, packaging and distribution facilities. If allowed to continue, the fighting could significantly deepen the country’s economic woes and further complicate efforts to revive a national peace process.…  Seguir leyendo »

A Yemeni child holding empty bottles walks past portraits on the graves of Yemenis killed in the country's ongoing conflict at a cemetery in Sanaa, Yemen, on April 17. (Yahya Arhab/EPA-EFE/REX)

More than four years ago, adults started a war in Yemen despite knowing the terrible toll that violent conflict exacts on children.

The war in Yemen, now in its fifth year, continues to fuel the worst humanitarian crisis in the world. Indiscriminate violence and destruction have wreaked havoc on the civilian population and pushed millions to the brink. Yet it is Yemen’s children who suffer first and suffer most.

The consequences read like an itemized list of horrors. More than 6,700 children have been killed or seriously injured, while 12 million — more than 80 percent of all children across the country — need humanitarian assistance to survive.…  Seguir leyendo »

UN Special Envoy to Yemen Martin Griffiths makes a speech during the UN Security Council meeting on Yemen at the United Nations Headquarters in New York, United States on 14 December 2018. Atilgan Ozdil / Anadolu Agency

This week, we return to the UN’s efforts to make the Hodeida agreement stick.

Trendline: Holdup in Hodeida

It is almost a year since an anticipated battle for the Red Sea port of Hodeida became the centre of gravity in Yemen’s civil war, as well as international efforts to end it.

In June 2018, Crisis Group described the conflict as having reached an inflection point. Along with other observers, we feared that a bloody battle between Huthi fighters in Hodeida and UAE-backed forces outside it would push the war into a new, more perilous phase and likely trigger a devastating famine.…  Seguir leyendo »