The ambiguous decline of jihadist militancy in Yemen

A July 2018 policy paper by Dr. Elisabeth Kendall for the Middle East Institute explores the gradual development of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) and the Islamic State in Yemen (ISY), and the conditions each organization require to succeed. Kendall analyzes the structures of AQAP and challenges the organization has faced. She also compares AQAP to ISY and considers their recent decentralizations. She urges key conflict actors to take actions to ultimately end the war and act now to restrict jihadist militancy in Yemen.





August 8-13: Airstrike on school bus draws international attention; new report details prison abuses

8/8

International aid groups protested the "symbol of aggression and oppression" the San'a airport has become. There have been 56 coalition airstrikes on the airport in the past two years, an average of one every two weeks.

Yemen’s ambassador to the US, Ahmed Awad Bin Mubarak, argued Wednesday that the US withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal would “contribute to the end of the war in Yemen.”

August 1-6: Attacks in Hudaydah continue; coalition ties with al-Qaeda revealed

8/1

After facing criticism and threats for attacking vessels in the Red Sea, the Houthis announced a halt on naval military activity. The ceasefire will take place from August 1 to 15, according to Houthi leader Mohammed al-Houthi, who said this period could be extended with the cooperation of the coalition.

War and Water Insecurity in Yemen

Yemen faces many problems in the years to come; often forgotten is the increasing threat of climate change. The country has long faced issues of water insecurity and scarcity, desertification and overgrazing, but these issues are set to get worse given the global climate and, even more so, the war in Yemen.

July 24-31: US defense budget conditions support for coalition; Griffiths continues shuttle diplomacy

7/24

Middle East Eye reports that the Yemeni government is offering high salaries, paid in Saudi riyals, to people displaced from Hudaydah who are willing to fight on the front lines. Fighting is often the only feasible way for displaced people living in government camps to earn an income.

An apparent roadside bomb killed four people and injured five, including a senior security official, in Aden.

US House and Senate leadership have released the final version of the 2019 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). The annual defense budget bill will include two provisions relating to Yemen, one of which requires the administration to investigate US involvement in the torture of detainees by UAE forces; the other provision will place conditions on US refueling for coalition air operations. The YPP and our partner organizations have been working for several months to ensure that these amendments make it into the final law.

An apparent US airstrike killed 4 suspected AQAP operatives in Yemen.

The Saudi-led coalition forced a plane belonging to the International Committee of the Red Cross to land in Saudi Arabia after the plane made a sudden change of course. The flight was later allowed to continue to its final destination.

Currency in Crisis: The Yemeni Riyal and the Dangerous Effects of Depreciation

A taxi driver is unable to feed his family after long days of work. A police officer spends most of his salary on transportation to and from his workplace. A government employee’s salary is worth half of what it was worth before the war. A school teacher goes to work everyday, but hasn’t been paid for five months. Financial strain in the Yemeni economy has had an outsize impact on Yemenis’ lives, as ordinary Yemenis contend with the falling currency value that decreases their purchasing power on imported items.

July 16-23: No clear progress in negotiations as conditions in Hudaydah worsen

7/17

After months of local protests, the Saudi- and Emirati-led coalition has given up control of al-Ghayda airport in eastern Yemen according to Al Jazeera.

Houthi shelling in Ta’iz killed 3 civilians and injured 6 others today. The Houthis have continued the current spate of shelling for over two weeks.

Fighting in Hudaydah Governorate killed at least 30 civilians in the first two weeks of July.

House and Senate Leadership Agree to Investigate US Involvement in UAE Torture, Condition Assistance to Coalition

Washington, DC -- Last night, congressional leadership released the conference report of the National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal year 2019, which includes two amendments that will bring greater oversight and accountability to the activities of the United States and Saudi-led coalition allies intervening in Yemen’s civil war. As a pacifist organization, the Yemen Peace Project does not endorse the NDAA; however, we welcome the inclusion of Section 1274 and Section 1290 in the final legislation and, once signed into law, we strongly encourage members of Congress to take advantage of their provisions in order to increase transparency concerning US engagement in the conflict and pressure coalition allies to adhere to international law and the United Nations-led peace process.

JULY 7 - JULY 16: PAUSE IN HUDAYDAH OFFENSIVE CONTINUES TO ALLOW TIME FOR NEGOTIATIONS

07/07

Hasan Nasrallah, leader of Hezbollah, strengthened his rhetorical support for the Houthis, announcing in his June 29th speech that he wished to be with those fighting on the west coast [AR]. The Iraqi al-Shuhada Brigade has offered to send fighters to the west coast, as well[AR]. Observers say that a small number of Hezbollah advisors are working with the Houthis in San’a and Hudaydah.

The role of women transforms during wartime, AWAM Development Foundation study finds

In May 2018, the Awam Development Foundation, in partnership with Oxfam and the Youth Leadership Development Foundation, produced a report titled The  Impacts of War on the Participation of Women in Civil Society Organizations and Peacebuilding. The study explores the ways in which the war in Yemen is affecting women across various industries and regions. A study team conducted interviews in the San’a, Aden, Hudaydah and Ibb governorates, examining the life of average Yemeni women and their roles, or lack thereof, as peace builders in their communities. The evidence gathered from these interviews culminated in new recommendations intended for both national and international policymakers.

Before 2014: Yemen's Economy Before the War

Yemen has suffered from economic woes since the unification of the North (Yemen Arab Republic) and South (People’s Democratic Republic of Yemen) in 1990. Months after unification, Yemen—then on the UN Security Council—voted against the authorization of use of force against Iraq after the invasion of Kuwait. The vote not only provoked the US and Saudi Arabia to cut off all aid to the new state, it also spurred the expulsion of nearly 750,000 Yemenis from Saudi Arabia, many of whom had worked there for decades, sending remittances to their families still in Yemen.[1] As external funding flowing into the nation trickled to a stop, the 1994 civil war and subsequent political crises decreased investor confidence, racked up reconstruction expenses, and sent Yemen's economy spiraling.

July 2-July 9: UAE extends pause in Hudaydah offensive

7/2

UAE Foreign Minister Anwar Gargash announced an extension of the pause in the Hudaydah offensive, citing its support for UN Special Envoy Martin Griffith’s efforts to broker a deal that would prevent an assault. The parties still seem far apart, however, with the UAE expecting an unconditional withdrawal from the city and the Houthis stating they are negotiating to hand control of the port over to the UN.

The Yemen Peace Project Condemns Department of Homeland Security Refusal to Re-Designate TPS for Yemenis

July 5, 2018 -- Today, United States Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen extended Yemen’s Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for 18 months, but did not re-designate TPS so that other eligible immigrants from Yemen can apply for its protections. While the Yemen Peace Project is relieved that the administration has refrained from returning an estimated 1,200 Yemenis to a destructive civil war and humanitarian crisis, we condemn the decision to not re-designate, effectively shutting all domestic doors to Yemenis seeking to escape a conflict that the US government has a hand in perpetuating.

Established in the 1990s, TPS offers temporary residency and work permissions to residents of countries experiencing armed conflicts or extraordinary conditions (such as famine or natural disaster) that prevent safe return, renewable for periods up to 18 months. TPS was first granted to Yemen in September 2015, roughly a year after the start of the country’s civil war; it was extended and re-designated in early 2017 due to both the worsening of the civil war and the onset of the country’s complex humanitarian crises. At the same time, however, the Trump administration pushed forward multiple iterations of a travel ban on nationals from Yemen and a number of other Muslim-majority nations. In June 2018, the Supreme Court upheld the third iteration of this Muslim ban on fallacious national security grounds, even as several justices recognized its clear anti-Muslim animus.

The Supreme Court's ruling has placed a sharp limit on the effect that TPS can have for Yemenis attempting to find some respite from conflict. In this context, the refusal to re-designate TPS, paired with its unjustifiably harsh restrictions on refugee resettlement and asylum, means that the administration has effectively shut all doors to Yemenis seeking shelter in a country that, by materially supporting one side of the civil war, contributes to the devastation from which they are leaving. This failure to re-designate has particularly inhuman repercussions for current Yemeni TPS holders. Over the last several months, the YPP has had conversations with multiple TPS recipients who were hoping to reunite with family members living in limbo in Europe, neighboring countries, or Yemen itself. For now, the Muslim ban’s laughable waiver policy notwithstanding, the administration has closed all legal avenues to the reunification of parents and their children, siblings, and spouses.

Given the Trump administration's seemingly systematic revocation of TPS for residents from other countries experiencing armed conflict and humanitarian crises, we recognize that Yemeni TPS holders have fared better than other TPS recipients in the United States. Additionally, the same xenophobic calculus that determined these decisions also tears children from their parents, militarizes borders, and seeks to revoke citizenships. Against this onslaught, only patient, determined organizing among Americans of all backgrounds, done in solidarity with our immigrant neighbors, can shift both the substance of US policy and the political climate which informs it. Even in a time of significant setbacks, we stand ready to continue this work.

Finally, we want to applaud the work of Yemenis, Yemeni-Americans, and domestic advocacy organizations that brought public pressure to bear on the administration and did secure the full 18-month extension for current TPS holders.

June 25-July 1: Hadi pressures Houthis, coalition halts attack on Hudaydah

6/25

Yemeni officials report that coalition airstrikes have killed a family of eight in Amran, north of San’a. An additional twenty were injured in the attacks.

Coalition forces are moving closer to the Hudaydah city center, as fierce fighting has broken out out near Hudaydah University.

The Al Jazeera Listening Post dissects how the US and the UK media are misrepresenting the war in Yemen as a proxy war between Iran and Saudi Arabia, rather than a conflict that the two countries are deeply involved in.

YPP calls on Congress & the American people to act after Supreme Court upholds Muslim Ban

Today the US Supreme Court, in a five-to-four decision, upheld President Trump’s executive order preventing individuals from Yemen and several other countries from entering the US. Lower courts previously found that this policy was inspired by anti-Muslim bias. Trump has made numerous public statements making clear his xenophobic and Islamophobic feelings, and his desire to prevent foreign Muslims from entering the US. The Supreme Court’s majority did not dispute these facts today; rather, they found that the latest version of Trump’s “Muslim Ban” sufficiently camouflaged this hatred under the guise of national security. After listing many of the President’s anti-Muslim statements in their opinion today, the Justices then describe the bureaucratic steps the administration took to make its discriminatory policy more palatable, and ultimately conclude that the text of the executive order is “facially neutral.” In other words, the five Republican Justices found that although the President of the United States is a bigot, his lawyers did not include any openly bigoted language in their third revision of an order expressly designed to keep Muslim immigrants out of this country.

National security experts call on Administration to extend TPS for Yemenis

Today, more than 30 former US federal government officials sent a letter to Secretary of Homeland Security Nielsen and Secretary of State Pompeo, urging them to extend and re-designate Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Yemen. The full text of their letter is below.

Dear Secretary Nielsen and Secretary Pompeo:

We, the undersigned national security experts, many of whom are former United States officials, have watched Yemen’s ongoing civil war and humanitarian crisis with grave concern. We write to affirm that the country’s ongoing armed conflict and extraordinary and temporary conditions, which justified the extension of Temporary Protected Status (TPS) to people from Yemen living in the United States in March 2017, persist. These conditions demand both the extension  of TPS for an estimated 1,200 individuals in the United States and its re-designation for Yemeni immigrants who seek to reside here without fear of deportation and separation from their families. We urge you to take these steps as a small but vital protective measure that neither they nor the United States can do without. 

YPP joins 50 NGOs in calling on administration to extend TPS

WASHINGTON -- Today the YPP and dozens of other local and national organizations sent a letter to Secretary of Homeland Security Nielsen and Secretary of State Pompeo, calling on them to redesignate Yemen for Temporary Protected Status (TPS), and to extend TPS for Yemenis in the US. As the letter explains, Yemen first received a TPS designation in September 2015 in response to the war that erupted in 2014. Since the original TPS designation for Yemen and its subsequent extension and redesignation in January 2017, Yemen’s armed conflict and humanitarian crisis have only intensified. 

June 19-24: Fighting continues amid further peace talks

6/19

UN Special Envoy Martin Griffiths has left San’a without a peace deal. This was his second visit to the capital in two weeks.

The United Nations reports that 26,000 have been displaced due to fighting in Hudaydah Governorate. Fighting is centered around the airport compound and residential areas to the south of Hudaydah city. Over forty airstrikes have been reported in other areas across the country as well.

NGOs condemn coalition's detention of Mwatana founders

YPP joins 17 other organizations in calling on the Saudi- and UAE-led coalition to immediately release human rights defenders Radhya Almutawakel and Abdulrasheed Alfaqih

The undersigned human rights and civil liberties organizations urge the Saudi and UAE-led coalition to immediately and unconditionally release Radhya Almutawakel and Abdulrasheed Alfaqih, two prominent Yemeni human rights defenders with Mwatana Organization for Human Rights who were detained in Yemen today.