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 mediation effort.…  Seguir leyendo »

Expired food and medicine aid packages from the World Food Program in the Houthi rebel-held Yemeni capital, Sana, in June. The World Food Programme announced the “partial suspension” of aid to the capital, which is controlled by Houthi rebels.CreditCreditMohammed Huwais/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

A standoff between the United Nations World Food Program and Houthi rebels in control of the capital region is threatening the lives of hundreds of thousands of civilians in Yemen.

Alarmed by reports that food is being diverted to support the rebels, the aid program is demanding that Houthi officials allow them to deploy biometric technologies like iris scans and digital fingerprints to monitor suspected fraud during food distribution.

The Houthis have reportedly blocked food delivery, painting the biometric effort as an intelligence operation, and have demanded access to the personal data on beneficiaries of the aid. The impasse led the aid organization to the decision last month to suspend food aid to parts of the starving population — once thought of as a last resort — unless the Houthis allow biometrics.…  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 is International Crisis Group’s eleventh regular update on the war in Yemen. 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 »

Crisis Group Yemen Update #10

This is Crisis Group’s tenth update on recent developments in Yemen, 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 is the ninth briefing note in Crisis Group’s Yemen Campaign. Notes are published fortnightly. 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 »

People walk past a school, damaged during the ongoing war in Taiz, Yemen 18 December 2018. REUTERS/Anees Mahyoub

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.

Trendline: Trouble in Taiz

Taiz, Yemen’s largest pre-war manufacturing hub and cultural capital nestled in the country’s central highlands, is widely regarded by its inhabitants as a forgotten city. Any future political settlement will have to include a mechanism to end the struggle for Taiz, but internal wrangling among anti-Huthi forces may prove as much of a barrier to progress as their rivalry with the Huthis.

The site of some of the fiercest front-line fighting in the ongoing four-year war, Taiz was besieged by an erstwhile Huthi-Saleh alliance from 2015 until 2017 and has since connected to the outside world through a single, winding mountain road linking it with Turbah, a town 70 kilometres south.…  Seguir leyendo »

A destroyed building in the Tawahi district of Aden, 26 March 2019. CRISISGROUP/Peter Salisbury

For an American who had a hand in shaping U.S. Mideast policy during the Barack Obama years, coming to Yemen has the unpleasant feel of visiting the scene of a tragedy one helped co-write.

It is a scene whose most heartrending aspects are not easily accessible to a visitor. It is still possible to travel north, to the war-battered capital, Sanaa, now controlled by the Houthi insurgent group, or up the Red Sea coast, where a catastrophic struggle for control over the port city of Hodeida still looms, but it’s a challenge. So when one of us recently ventured into the country, the journey went no farther than Aden, the southern port city over which the internationally recognised government regained control early in the conflict with the help of a Saudi-led coalition.…  Seguir leyendo »

A child sits on a bed near a hut in an improvised camp for internally displaced people near Abs of the northwestern province of Hajja, Yemen February 18, 2019. Picture taken 18 February 2019. REUTERS/Khaled Abdullah

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.

Trendline: As Stockholm Stutters, a Tribal Showdown in Yemen’s North

As UN Special Envoy Martin Griffiths continued to push for the implementation of the Stockholm Agreement to demilitarise the Red Sea port city of Hodeida, images circulated on social media on 4 March purporting to show Katyusha missiles hitting houses in Kushar, a small settlement in Yemen’s northern Hajja governorate.

The alleged Huthi missile strikes marked an escalation in a local conflict that has been gathering momentum for almost two months.…  Seguir leyendo »

A Yemeni woman writes on a mural about children and women suffering in the time of war in Sanaa, Yemen, in February. (Mohamed al-Sayaghi/Reuters)

In Yemen’s brutal civil war, all parties have used tactics and strategies that amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity. Humanitarian assistance and imports of food, medicine and fuel have been blocked. Food production and distribution facilities, including markets and water wells, have been bombed. Schools, hospitals and other infrastructure essential to the survival of the civilian population have been destroyed. Political opposition figures and journalists have been arrested or tortured, or have disappeared, languishing in detention. Large numbers of land and sea mines have been put into place.

Predictably, the result has been the world’s largest humanitarian crisis, with mass starvation, outbreaks of cholera and dengue fever, and the internal displacement of millions.…  Seguir leyendo »

A Yemeni man walks carrying food aid provided by a local charity to families affected by the ongoing conflict, in the capital Sanaa on 14 February 2019. MOHAMMED HUWAIS / AFP

This is the sixth weekly briefing note in Crisis Group’s Yemen campaign. This week, we look at how economic issues will affect future peacebuilding efforts.

Trendline: Putting Yemen to Work

Late February brought some hope to Yemen’s embattled population, large segments of which were on the verge of starvation at the end of 2018. The UN announced that it had both raised billions of dollars to pay for its humanitarian work over the coming year and had regained access to the Red Sea Mills, an important food storage and distribution hub outside the port city of Hodeida for the first time in five months.…  Seguir leyendo »

Yemeni soldiers guard during the meeting of the national assembly of Yemen's separatist Southern Transitional Council in Mukalla, Yemen 16 February 2019. REUTERS/Fawaz Salman

This is the fifth weekly briefing note in Crisis Group’s Yemen Campaign. This week, we look at how simmering tensions in the south of the country threaten the prospects for long-term peace, and give insight into ongoing attempts to demilitarise the country’s Red Sea trade corridor.

Trendline: Yemen’s Southern Transitional Council Isn’t Backing Down

As the UN makes progress on mediating a redeployment of rival fighters from areas in and around Hodeida on the Red Sea coast (see below), tensions in southern Yemen between the government of Yemen and secessionist groups continue to simmer with the potential to undermine any peace process that emerges in the north.…  Seguir leyendo »

Crisis Group Yemen Update #4

Below is the fourth weekly update as part of Crisis Group’s Yemen Campaign. This week we look at fighting near the Saudi-Yemeni border and strains on the ceasefire around Hodeida, as well as international developments.

Trendline: The Overlooked Battle for Yemen’s Northern Border

Though the battle for the Red Sea port and city of Hodeida is paused until the UN-brokered deal to demilitarise the area succeeds or collapses, fighting on other fronts has intensified, particularly along the Saudi-Yemeni border.

Since the Hodeida ceasefire took effect in December, the battleground has partly shifted to the northern governorates around the Huthi rebels’ heartland of Saada.…  Seguir leyendo »

IDP camp in Yemen, 2018 CRISISGROUP/Peter Salisbury

This is Crisis Group’s third weekly update published as part of our Yemen Campaign. The trend we identify in this edition is new hope for a political compromise to end the four-year-old civil war and ease the country’s grave humanitarian crisis.

Trendline: A Shift to the Political in 2019?

After a year of unrelenting military pressure along Yemen’s Red Sea coast, there are some indications that the Saudi-led coalition may be pivoting toward a greater recognition that a political compromise is needed to end the war. Military pressure succeeded in bringing the Huthis to the table, the coalition argues, but a different toolkit will be needed to end the war.…  Seguir leyendo »