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 »
For much of 2019, Crisis Group has warned that a trigger event could spark direct military confrontation between the U.S. and Saudi Arabia, on one side, and Iran on the other, precipitating a regional conflagration. The combination of the U.S. “maximum pressure” campaign against Iran, Iranian pushback, the spiralling civil war in Yemen and the paucity of de-escalation channels available to the rival actors has primed the region for such an outcome, even if neither side wants it. Now more than ever, cooler heads are needed to lower the temperature, break the escalatory cycle and chart a diplomatic off-ramp.
The exact nature and provenance of the attacks remains disputed.… Seguir leyendo »
In December 2018, representatives of Yemen’s internationally recognised government and the rebel Huthi movement did something unexpected: they agreed on something. At UN-mediated talks in Sweden, the two parties announced what is now known as the Stockholm Agreement.
You can read our analysis of the agreement here, but its key components were a prisoner swap, an agreement for mutual redeployments from Hodeida – the port, the city and environs – and a commitment to discuss de-escalation at another front-line city, Taiz. The Hodeida agreement in particular was vital. A battle around this Red Sea port threatened to cut off a trade route that accounts for 70 per cent of key goods shipped into Yemen, thereby pushing the country into famine.… Seguir leyendo »
What does the ceasefire mean?
The Hodeida ceasefire is a first step toward implementing an agreement reached at UN-led talks between Yemen’s internationally recognised government and Huthi rebels in Sweden on 13 December to demilitarise Hodeida city and port, and the wider Red Sea trade corridor. Early reports of ceasefire violations are troubling but not unexpected for a process that likely will encounter more than a few bumps in the road.
Hodeida is currently held by the Huthis and surrounded by rival fighters. Under the agreement, the rebels and the government agreed to remove their military forces from both the port facilities and the city, and also from the nearby port of Salif and Ras Issa oil terminal.… Seguir leyendo »
Last week, Yemen’s Houthi rebels and its internationally recognized government agreed to a deal in Sweden, known as the Stockholm agreement. It is made up of four key elements: a prisoner swap, the creation of a demilitarized zone around the country’s vital Red Sea trade corridor through a series of withdrawals by rival Yemeni forces, the formation of a committee to discuss the future of the contested city of Taiz, and a commitment for the Houthis and the government to reconvene at the end of December.
The agreement is meant to prevent the situation in Yemen from getting any worse rather than making it better, and even this was a big ask.… Seguir leyendo »
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.
What are the talks in Stockholm expected to achieve?
In September, the UN envoy to Yemen, Martin Griffiths, failed to bring the parties to the table in Geneva after last-minute wrangling. This time he hopes to have better success. The Huthis arrived in Sweden on 4 December, with the internationally recognised government due to arrive the next day.… Seguir leyendo »
Analysts have long argued that, if left unchecked, Yemen’s political, economic and fiscal crises were all but certain to cause a massive, debilitating famine. As Yemen barrels toward this worst-case scenario, what is most disturbing is that there is no indication the trend will be stopped, even when people start dying in unprecedented numbers.
Almost four years into the country’s civil war, 22 million people in Yemen now require some sort of assistance. About 10,000 people contract cholera every week; there have been more than 1.2 million cases of the disease and more than 2,500 deaths, according to the World Health Organization.… Seguir leyendo »
Over the last two weeks, the latest attempt to set Yemen on the path to peace has collapsed, triggering what could become the bloodiest battle of a war approaching its fourth anniversary. In a 14 September letter to the UN Security Council, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) announced that it planned to renew its campaign to wrest Hodeida, a port city on Yemen’s Red Sea coast, from the control of the rebel Huthi movement. This came a week after precursory peace talks were meant to start in Geneva. The Huthis have pledged to battle UAE-backed forces to the last man.
Although not unexpected, the swift collapse of peace efforts is deeply disappointing.… Seguir leyendo »
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 the Geneva talks are important and what should happen next.
First of all, what is happening in Geneva and why does it matter?
After two years of political inertia, the talks are important simply because they are happening at all. Yet we should be cautious about what can be achieved. Given the lack of diplomatic progress since 2016, and an intensification of the fighting over the past eight months, bringing the two parties together would be an accomplishment in itself.… Seguir leyendo »
December brought some of the biggest shifts in Yemen’s civil war since a Saudi-led coalition entered the conflict in March 2015. On Dec. 4, former president Ali Abdullah Saleh was killed by members of the Zaydi Shiite Houthi movement with whom he had been allied until just a couple of days before. His death has led to newfound optimism in Riyadh and elsewhere that the Houthis can be defeated militarily in 2018.
Yet Saleh’s death has produced fewer substantive changes in the balance of power than might have been anticipated. And the incentives for many actors involved in the war to sustain rather than end it remain high.… Seguir leyendo »
Having avoided the fate of fellow Arab autocrats in 2011, Yemen’s former president Ali Abdullah Saleh has been killed in a roadside gunfight while attempting to flee the capital Sanaa.
Saleh will be remembered as the man who shaped modern Yemen in his own image, but who was more willing to burn the country to the ground than relinquish power. Yet without his deal-making skills, the civil war he helped to spark and the devastating humanitarian crisis it caused are only likely to get worse.
Saleh’s death came as a shock to most Yemenis. He loomed large over the country, living on his wits – he likened ruling Yemen to ‘dancing on the head of snakes’ – and was a consummate deal-maker who exceeded and outlived all expectations.… Seguir leyendo »
Since becoming president, Donald Trump’s proclivity for ‘unpredictability’ has been on full display. Whether this is a carefully thought-through strategy or simply the gloss the president and his inner circle apply to his freewheeling, chaotic and seemingly strategy-free approach to political leadership, the effects of that approach are being felt keenly in Washington DC and across the world. Nowhere is this truer than in ongoing political crisis in the Gulf, where not knowing the US’s next move is being equated in some corners with the US not having one.
The standoff between Qatar, three of its GCC neighbours and Egypt is the first major foreign policy crisis of Trump’s term in office.… Seguir leyendo »
This week Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt announced that they were again cutting diplomatic ties with Qatar. In a sharp escalation, they have also closed their borders to Qatari aircraft and ships, and the Gulf states have said that Qatari citizens in their countries must leave within two weeks. It is unclear how the standoff will be resolved, but the Saudis and their neighbours are making a clear play for Western support, accusing Qatar’s government of backing terror groups including Al-Qaeda and ISIS.
How did we get here? Before 2011, few in the West knew much about Qatar, the tiny Gulf Arab emirate whose main claim to fame was being the richest per-capita country in the world thanks to an abundance of gas and a paucity of people.… Seguir leyendo »
US Secretary of State John Kerry was in the Saudi city of Jeddah this week, with Yemen’s brutal civil war high on the agenda as he met officials from Britain, Saudi Arabia and the UAE.
Yemen’s warring parties are in the midst of a bloody stalemate: The Zaydi Shia-led Houthi rebels who along with military loyalists of former president Ali Abdullah Saleh have controlled Sana’a, the Yemeni capital, since their joint coup in September 2014; and Saudi-backed anti-Houthi forces ostensibly led by the President in exile Abd Rabbu Mansour Hadi, who are supported by the Saudis, most notably through a campaign of aerial bombardment in Houthi-controlled parts of the country.… Seguir leyendo »
Saudi Arabia’s foreign policy has become more and more assertive since King Salman bin Abdulaziz al-Saud ascended to the throne in early 2015. Under its new ruler, and perhaps more importantly his son, the deputy crown prince Mohammed bin Salman, the kingdom has entered the fray of Yemen’s civil war and has taken a much more visible role in pushing its agenda at an international level. The new king has reputedly used Saudi Arabia’s financial heft as leverage to pressure the UN into limiting its criticisms of the conservative monarchy’s actions at home and abroad and used its trade and political ties with Western allies, particularly the UK, to convince them to push for its agenda at the UN and elsewhere.… Seguir leyendo »
Saudi Arabia’s foreign policy has become more and more assertive since King Salman bin Abdulaziz al-Saud ascended to the throne in early 2015.
Under its new ruler, and perhaps more importantly his son, the deputy crown prince Mohammed bin Salman, the Kingdom has entered the fray of Yemen’s civil war and has taken a much more visible role in pushing its agenda at an international level.
The new King has reputedly used Saudi Arabia’s financial heft as leverage to pressure the U.N. into limiting its criticisms of the conservative monarchy’s actions at home and abroad and used its trade and political ties with Western allies, particularly the UK, to convince them to push for its agenda at the U.N.… Seguir leyendo »
The civil war in Yemen, which is now more than a year old, has been called a ‘forgotten’ and ‘hidden’ conflict, an orphan to the interest of the Western media and policy-makers.
Perhaps that is because, to the casual observer, Yemen has always seemed somewhat war-torn; or, conversely, because its war is, relatively speaking, recent. The fighting in Syria is now into its fifth year while Libya has been on a volatile path of decline since the death of Muammar Gaddafi in 2011. Yemen’s civil war, although the latest iteration in a violent struggle for power between the country’s many factions, only entered its latest, most destructive phase about a year ago.… Seguir leyendo »
The tide is turning against the Houthis and troops loyal to former President Ali Abdullah Saleh in the south of Yemen. But they and their adversaries now face a tipping point in the four-month-old civil war. Both can recognize that neither side can win outright, and choose peace. Or they can condemn the country to another bout of even more devastating conflict.
Backed by new military hardware, airpower and an influx of Yemeni troops trained in Saudi Arabia, fighters captured the city’s international airport and surrounding areas on 14 July. They now appear to be on the brink of consolidating control over Aden for the first time since the Houthis (an armed group that follows the Zaydi a form of Shi’ite Islam largely unique to north Yemen) arrived on its outskirts in late March.… Seguir leyendo »