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 »