New Houthi recruits in Sanaa, Yemen, February 2024. Khaled Abdullah / Reuters

Since the Houthis launched their assault on global shipping in November, the United States and its partners have scrambled for ways to restore calm and commerce to the Red Sea. First, on December 18, Washington assembled a maritime coalition designed to boost the U.S. presence in the area and promote regional security. Then, in January, the United States started intercepting Iranian military shipments bound for the Houthis and issued multiple warnings to the group. Finally, after nearly two months of continuous attacks in the Red Sea, the United States and the United Kingdom launched a barrage of strikes against the Houthis’ facilities.…  Seguir leyendo »

Houthi supporters rallying in Sanaa, Yemen, January 2024. Khaled Abdullah / Reuters

Since November, the Red Sea has become the site of escalating attacks by Yemen’s Houthi movement, the armed group that governs most of Yemen’s population. These assaults, which the Houthi rebels say are designed to pressure Israel to end the war in Gaza, mark the emergence of a new conflict zone in the already volatile Middle East. By effectively closing the sea to cargo ships, the strikes have disrupted global trade and earned the Houthis unprecedented international attention.

The attacks have done an especially good job of earning the Houthis attention—and support—from Iran. Traditionally, the militia has been a second-tier partner for the Islamic Republic, which tends to work more closely with Hezbollah and other militia groups that share its anti-American ideology.…  Seguir leyendo »

Houthi followers chant slogans as they ride a vehicle in Sana'a, Yemen on 18 January 2024. (Photo by Mohammed Hamoud/Getty Images)

The US redesignation of the Houthis as Specially Designated Global Terrorists (SDGT) represents continuing inconsistency in its policy towards Yemen – or rather the complete absence of a policy.

During its first weeks in office the Biden administration chose to revoke Trump’s decision to add the Houthis to a similar list. Now the US has rebranded them with the terrorist designation, repeating the same old ignorant mistakes, with apparently no ability to learn from even recent history.

The main difference between Trump’s designation and Biden’s is that the restrictions of the new SDGT categorization can be more easily undone in the event of a de-escalation in hostilities.…  Seguir leyendo »

Tribal supporters of Yemen's Houthis protest recent U.S.-led strikes near Sanaa, Yemen, on Sunday. (Khaled Abdullah/Reuters)

The White House has officially designated April as “Supply Chain Integrity Month”. Houthi rebels in Yemen and a dozen other players that can wreak havoc on global logistics don’t seem to have gotten the message.

The Houthis are a tribal militia in a faraway country that many Americans couldn’t identify on a map. But they have the ability to disrupt world markets. For three months, they have been sending missiles and drones toward commercial cargo ships in the Red Sea — and, in the process, altering global shipping flows and insurance rates. Reuters reported on Tuesday that just in the past week, risk premiums for ships traveling the area had increased by more than 40 percent.…  Seguir leyendo »

Los hutíes se manifiestan en Yemen tras los ataques aéreos de Estados Unidos y Reino Unido. Mohammed Hamoud/Getty Images

Los ataques liderados por Estados Unidos y el Reino Unido contra el grupo rebelde Hutí en Yemen representan un nuevo y dramático giro en el conflicto de Oriente Medio, que podría tener implicaciones en toda la región.

Los ataques del 11 de enero de 2024 alcanzaron unos 60 objetivos en 16 emplazamientos, según el mando de las Fuerzas Aéreas estadounidenses en Oriente Medio, entre ellos en la capital de Yemen, Saná, el principal puerto de Hodeida y Saada, cuna de los hutíes en el noroeste del país.

La acción militar se produce tras semanas de advertencias de Estados Unidos a los hutíes, ordenándoles que dejen de atacar a los buques comerciales en el estratégico estrecho de Bab el-Mandeb, en el Mar Rojo.…  Seguir leyendo »

Supporters of the Houthis rallied in Yemen on Friday. Khaled Abdullah/Reuters

By striking Houthi rebel targets in Yemen with Britain on Thursday, Washington sent a searing message to both the Houthis and its Iranian backers that the United States has ended its longstanding defense-only posture in the Red Sea and is determined to stop the group’s attacks against commercial ships in regional waters.

It’s unclear whether that strategy will work, given the intransigence of the Houthis and the fact that they stand to benefit from a fight with the United States. Such a clash boosts their credentials with U.S. foes in the region and distracts from their atrocious governance of northwestern Yemen and the country’s capital.…  Seguir leyendo »

A protest in Sanaa, Yemen on January 11, 2024, against the UN Security Council resolution demanding that Houthis cease all attacks on ships in the Red Sea. (Photo by Mohammed Hamoud/Anadolu via Getty Images)

US and UK air strikes on Yemen on 11 and 12 January were characterized by the Biden administration as ‘a clear message’ that the US will not ‘ allow hostile actors to imperil freedom of navigation’ in the Red Sea. UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak described the strikes as ‘ limited, necessary and proportionate action in self-defence’.

The air strikes come after the Houthis ignored calls to end their assaults, including a private formal letter delivered to the group leadership by the UK on behalf of the international community (according to various senior Houthi leaders).

The US/ UK strikes are presumably intended as the only possible bad choice to pressure the Houthis to end their hostile activity.…  Seguir leyendo »

A Typhoon takes off from RAF Akrotiri in Cyprus to to take part in airstrikes against military targets in Yemen. Photograph: Sgt Lee Goddard/MoD/AFP/Getty Images

Early on Friday, the US and Britain launched military strikes against more than a dozen targets in Yemen controlled by the Houthi militia. The strikes were in response to more than 25 attacks by the Houthis on shipping in the Red Sea since November – a campaign instigated by the militia after Israel’s invasion of Gaza.

Western leaders, and especially the US president, Joe Biden, insist that they want to reduce the risk of the war in Gaza spreading to other parts of the Middle East. But the US-led air and naval strikes on Yemen are the most significant expansion of the conflict since Israel launched its devastating assault on Gaza after the 7 October attacks by Hamas.…  Seguir leyendo »

Houthi forces marching at a parade in Sanaa, Yemen, December 2023. Khaled Abdullah / Reuters

The conflict between the United States and the Houthis in the Red Sea is steadily escalating. On December 31, Houthi small boats attempted to attack a commercial vessel; after U.S. naval helicopters responded to the attack, the Houthis—a rebel group that controls territory inhabited by 80 percent of Yemen’s population—fired on them. U.S. forces returned fire, sinking three Houthi boats and killing ten crew members. Then on January 9, the Houthis launched one of their largest attacks in the Red Sea to date including 18 drones, two antiship cruise missiles, and one antiship ballistic missile, which were intercepted by U.S. and British forces.…  Seguir leyendo »

The Galaxy Leader cargo ship, which is partly owned by an Israeli businessman, was hijacked by Houthi militia in November. Photograph: Houthi Military Media/Reuters

Since Israel launched its devastating assault and invasion of Gaza after the 7 October attacks by Hamas militants, the world has been anxious about the war spreading into a wider conflict that consumes the Middle East. In recent weeks, the threat of an expanding conflict has centred on an unlikely place: the poorest country in the region, Yemen, which has suffered years of civil war.

In late October, the Houthi militia in Yemen began firing missiles and drones towards Israel and then moved to seize commercial ships sailing in the Red Sea. The Houthis claimed they would prevent Israeli ships – or those registered to Israeli owners – from passing through the channel until Israel stopped its attack on Gaza.…  Seguir leyendo »

A grab from handout footage released by Yemen's Huthi Ansarullah Media Centre on November 19, 2023, reportedly shows members of the rebel group during the capture of an Israel-linked cargo vessel at an undefined location in the Red Sea. ANSARULLAH MEDIA CENTRE/AFP via Getty Images

Yemen’s Ansar Allah—also known as the Houthis—poses a threat to commercial shipping in the Red Sea. From mid-November through mid-December, the group attacked at least 30 merchant ships in the area, prompting most of the world’s major shippers to reroute their vessels around the Cape of Good Hope at the southern tip of Africa. The economic effects of these attacks have yet to be fully realized, but already insurances rates for shipping lines have doubled. Not only that, but circumnavigating Africa requires more time, fuel, and ships than routes through the Suez Canal, resulting in stretched supply chains and increased environmental damage.…  Seguir leyendo »

A handout photo released by Yemen's Houthis-run Saba News Agency shows the Omani and Saudi delegations in meeting Houthi officials, on Apr. 9, in Sanaa, Yemen. Saba News Agency via Getty Images

The crisis in the Gaza Strip demonstrates how quickly a protracted conflict can escalate. This is concerning for Yemen, where faltering peace talks have largely frozen fighting, but a de facto truce has yielded little progress since it took effect in April 2022. Since last November, Saudi Arabia—which backs the main government forces—has sought to accelerate the peace process by hammering out a deal directly with the government’s rivals, the Iran-backed Houthis, sidestepping both its own Yemeni partners on the ground and the United Nations.

In recent months, however, Saudi Arabia’s hopes for a fast-track peace process have been dashed, and the Houthis are threatening to return to the battlefield.…  Seguir leyendo »

Tribesmen in Sanaa, Yemen, April 2023. Khaled Abdullah / Reuters

The eight-year civil war in Yemen has created what has been called the world’s worst manmade humanitarian crisis. Hundreds of thousands of Yemenis have been killed and some four million people displaced. According to the United Nations, 21.6 million people in the country require humanitarian assistance and 80 percent of the population struggles to put food on the table. Given the extent of the catastrophe, it is perhaps no surprise that observers rejoiced when the Saudi ambassador to Yemen, Mohammed Al-Jaber, shook hands with leaders of the Houthi rebel group, which is allied with Iran, in April. It appeared to be a breakthrough in a devastating, unending conflict.Both…  Seguir leyendo »

A funeral for slain Houthi fighters in Sanaa, Yemen, June 2023. Khaled Abdullah / Reuters

On June 21, Yemeni media announced that Saudi Arabia and the Houthi rebel movement had exchanged the bodies of 64 fighters along Yemen’s northern border in what has been celebrated as a positive development in relations between the two main belligerents in the country’s eight-year civil war. Yet it remains unclear whether they can make more substantive progress on reaching a comprehensive cease-fire. Since April, the Houthis have been in negotiations with the Saudi-backed Yemeni government, but so far they have struggled to reach an agreement on such exchanges, let alone on ending the terrible conflict that has torn the country apart, killed hundreds of thousands of Yemenis, and produced one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises.…  Seguir leyendo »

A student at a school in Hajjah, Yemen, run by War Child Canada/USA, teaches Thomas Sadoski Arabic. War Child USA

“We are born dead” is graffitied, in English, on a wall across from the razor-wire sewn bulwark of the United Nations compound in northern Yemen. It is a distillation of the suffering of generational war; a plea from the abandoned and discarded.

I recently returned, through my involvement with the humanitarian organization War Child, from the northern reaches of Yemen’s Houthi regions. Access is virtually impossible for Americans (especially journalists) and took months of fraught negotiations. Not surprising, as American fingerprints are easily found on this crisis. US military support for Saudi Arabia, an integral player in the conflict, has been constant since its inception seven years ago.…  Seguir leyendo »

Two young boys hitch a ride on a passing truck as it stops at a checkpoint between Marib, al-Jawf and Sanaa, in Al Jawf governorate, Yemen. January 2020. CRISIS GROUP / Peter Salisbury

Yemen is in limbo. A truce in April between Houthi rebels and the country’s internationally recognised government, backed primarily by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), lapsed in October. Major fighting has not resumed, but both sides are preparing to go back to war.

The UN-brokered truce was an unexpected bright spot in a brutal eight-year conflict. In November 2021, Houthis, who control much of Yemen’s north west, seemed to be nearing victory. Had they taken the city of Marib and nearby oil and gas facilities, that would have won them the war for the north, bought their quasi-state badly needed funds, and spelled the end for then-President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi’s government.…  Seguir leyendo »

Houthi military forces parading in Hodeida, Yemen, September 2022. Houthi Military Media / Handout / Reuters

In April 2022, the opposing sides in Yemen’s devastating civil war achieved a rare breakthrough. After eight brutal years of conflict, they signed on to a UN-brokered truce that significantly curtailed the fighting that had driven an already impoverished country into a massive humanitarian crisis. Though it was unclear whether the two-month truce would even last that long, some observers allowed themselves to hope that it could be a first step toward a broader peace process. In the best-case scenario, they believed, it might even lead to a political settlement for a conflict that has pitted Houthi rebels, who control large parts of the country and are backed by Iran, against the internationally recognized Yemeni government and an allied Saudi-led coalition that, for much of the war, received logistics, intelligence support, and weaponry from Washington.…  Seguir leyendo »

Pro-government tribal fighters southeast of Marib, Yemen, December 2021. Ali Owidha / Reuters

Just a few months ago, the war in Yemen looked like one of the most intractable conflicts in the world. After seven years of brutal fighting, the country had disintegrated into a patchwork of increasingly well-armed rival groups backed by an array of outside powers, including Iran, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE). None of the actors involved in the conflict—the Houthi rebels who control Sanaa, Yemen’s capital; the numerous Yemeni groups battling the Houthis on the ground; Yemen’s internationally recognized government; or the Saudi-led coalition that backs the government—appeared willing to make the compromises needed to end the conflict.…  Seguir leyendo »

A mass funeral was held in the northern city of Saada, Yemen, on Jan. 25 for those killed in air Strikes on a prison. (AFP via Getty Images)

Almost seven years since the Saudi-United Arab Emirates coalition launched its war in Yemen, the devastating impact of its relentless airstrikes and siege of the country’s land, air and sea borders has reduced the country to shambles. The Biden administration promised to withdraw support for the war and push for a peace agreement, but its policies have further inflamed the fighting, which now has seriously expanded well beyond Yemen’s borders, from deep inside Saudi Arabia to the UAE as well, increasing the instability of the entire region.

For Yemenis, it’s clear that U.S. military and political support to its rich clients, Saudi and the UAE, have not only enabled but also encouraged the ongoing war, costing nearly 400,000 Yemeni lives.…  Seguir leyendo »

Anti-Saudi regime graffiti painted on the wall of Saudi Arabia's embassy in Sana'a, Yemen. Photo by Mohammed Hamoud/Getty Images.

Some diplomats at the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) are asking if Oman, the country which has facilitated the ‘backdoor channel’ between the Houthis in Sana’a and the rest of the world since 2015, has been abusing its leverage by using it to pursue its own interests towards the Saudis and the international community.

This question of leverage over the Houthis comes up in every round of negotiations, most recently as a discussion about pushing back against their diversion of humanitarian aid. But in reality, the current situation is a consequence of a poor diplomatic decision to isolate the Houthis and abandon Sana’a by international diplomats in early 2015.…  Seguir leyendo »