UNSC discusses Yemen's humanitarian crisis

United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator Stephen O’Brien addressed the United Nations Security Council on Friday to appeal for relief funding for Yemen. “The Yemeni people’s suffering has relentlessly intensified,” he said, noting that 7 million Yemenis were on the brink of famine and that 16 million lacked access to water

State Department: Yemen Faces Obstacles to Religious Freedom

The State Department released its 2016 International Religious Freedom report which details the status of religious freedom in every country. In its section on Yemen, the report describes the laws that place Islam as the state religion and basis of legislation, the harassment and difficulties that religious minorities face, and the violence perpetrated by both Sunni and Zaydi Shi’a militants against those considered apostates.

The UK Must Change its Policy Approach to Saudi Arabia

James Firebrace, a retired British diplomat, and Sherine El-Taraboulsi, of the Overseas Development Institute, wrote an op-ed outlining recommendations for the UK government regarding its engagement with Saudi Arabia. The UK has the potential to exert influence over peace processes in the Middle East, but its current support of the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen undermines its moral standing and dedication to humanitarian principles. In order to maintain credibility as a mediator, Firebrace and El-Taraboulsi recommend that the UK reduce its unconditional military support for Saudi Arabia, pressure Saudi Arabia to allow humanitarian imports, and call for more accountability in human rights violations.

August 14-21: Reports that war has intensified; leaked memo acknowledges that coalition targeted civilians

Monday, August 14

Yemeni Central Bank Governor Mansr al-Qaiti accused the Saudi-led coalition of disrupting the flow of cash into Yemen. According to a report by The Independent, al-Qaiti said the coalition was “strangling” the Yemeni economy by preventing the government of Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi from paying the salaries of a million civil servants. He mentioned 13 instances of the coalition blocking flights from transporting cash via Aden.

Sana'a Center: US Military Policy Destabilizes Yemen

According to a report by the Sana’a Center for Strategic Studies, US military assistance and counterterrorism policies in Yemen have destabilized the country and produced effects counter to US interests. US military aid to the Yemeni government, under both President Saleh and President Hadi, has allowed the presidents to undemocratically consolidate power through appointing family members and allies to military positions. It has also contributed to the current war in Yemen; the Houthi-Saleh alliance use weapons that the US gave to Yemen previously, and counterterrorism military aid to the government is often used to maintain the government’s fight against the Houthis. Meanwhile, counterterrorism efforts against AQAP are undermined by the continuing chaos of the war and by the government’s prioritization of the fight against the Houthis which, at times, leads to cooperation between the government and AQAP.

August 7-14: Conversation over San'a Airport continues; further clashes between AQAP and pro-Hadi forces

Monday, August 7

The State Department released a report on terrorism in Yemen, which argued that the ongoing civil war benefits al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP). Read more here.

Science News published an article describing the work of Rowa Mohammed Assayaghi, a medical microbiologist at San’a University, in combating the spread of cholera in Yemen.

Lawfare Questions the Effectiveness of America's Drone Program

Jacqueline Hazelton published a report in Lawfare magazine examining the merits of America's use of armed drones through the lens of the American grand strategy of restraint. The study is comprehensive, however it must be noted that due to the secrecy surrounding drone programs and the varying contexts in which drone strikes are carried out, it is difficult to empirically attribute public discontent and radicalization to drone strikes. While this is a limitation of study it is also Hazelton’s chief criticism of the US’ drone program. She argues that:

July 31-August 6: Military offensive opens against AQAP in Shabwah; civilians killed in Sa'dah

Monday, July 31

Yemen expert Peter Salisbury penned an article for Chatham House warning that the country’s war economy, in which President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi, militia leaders, and others have stakes, is undermining efforts toward a diplomatic solution to the ongoing civil war. Read more here.

Tuesday, August 1

Reuters reported that the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps has begun using a new route to transport weapons to the Houthis. The route, which was selected in order to evade the blockade on Yemen, reportedly runs through Kuwaiti waters. The Kuwaiti foreign minister denied the report.

The UAE’s Actions in the Middle East Strain its Alliance with the US

An article in the Washington Post analyzed the complicated relationship between the US and the UAE. The UAE’s desire for influence has driven it to enhance its international credibility by building up a sophisticated, capable military and increasing its involvement in conflicts. Much of the time, the UAE sides with the US: it leads in the fight against AQAP in Yemen and it has contributed troops in Western-backed conflicts such as in Somalia or Afghanistan. However, the UAE’s support for autocrats, its efforts in resisting peace, and its alleged illegal actions in conflict zones that risk US culpability have undermined the alliance between it and the US.

De Facto Authorities in Yemen

n his book The Army and Political Power in the Arab Context: Theoretical Problems, Azmi Bishara discusses Arab politics through the lense of the region's historical context . The writer examines these problems in the context of several Arab countries, including Yemen. Where he analyzes the relationship between society, the military and politics. His analysis is the basis for this examination of the de facto authorities that currently control Yemen.

Chatham House: Yemen’s War Economy Prevents a Diplomatic Solution

In a Chatham House article, Yemen expert Peter Salisbury warns that the flourishing war economy that sustains militia leaders, the Hadi government, and local stakeholders poses a threat to a diplomatic solution. Militia and political leaders fund their war efforts by taxing or establishing monopolies on resources. War has empowered militia leaders on all sides, and a peace process would strip these groups of their main source of authority.

The wrong peace deal could mean more war for Yemen

Just Security published an op-ed today by YPP executive director Will Picard, warning of the dangers of a deal currently being negotiated in secret that could return former president Ali Abdullah Saleh to power. Saleh was ousted in late 2011, after a lengthy popular uprising and a schism within the regime. In 2014 he allied himself with the Houthi movement to orchestrate a coup, sparking the ongoing civil war in Yemen. While the UN-led peace process has stalled, it appears that that the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia are negotiating with Saleh's party to form a new government and end the Gulf states' military intervention. The new government would reportedly include Saleh's son and other members of the pro-Saleh branch of Yemen's ruling GPC party.

Ambassador Seche and Mr. Pelofsky: Recommendations for promoting the peace process in Yemen

In an article in Just Security over the weekend, Stephen Seche and Eric Pelofsky provided recommendations to US policymakers regarding efforts to restart the peace process in Yemen, based on their meetings this month with Yemeni and Saudi officials in Riyadh. Stephen Seche, a former US ambassador to Yemen and the executive vice president of the Arab Gulf States Institute in Washington, and Eric Pelofsky, a visiting fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy and a former special assistant to the president and senior director for North Africa and Yemen at the National Security Council, warned that “today, there appears to be no viable path to peace in Yemen.” They pointed out several challenges, including internal tension between actors on both major sides of the conflict and Yemeni President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi’s refusal to endorse the UN Roadmap for Yemen as a basis for negotiation

The Project on Middle East Democracy : The Potential Impact of President Trump's Foreign Affairs Budget for the Middle East

The Project on Middle East Democracy (POMED) has released a report detailing the impact President Trump’s proposed budget will have on the Middle East and North Africa. Overall, the Trump administration’s budget request for FY18 proposes a 30% cut to foreign affairs funding. The budget is indicative of the Trump administration’s focus on the use of military force, with 80 percent of all foreign aid marked for military assistance. Humanitarian assistance faces a four percent funding cut, even as a number of conflicts spiral out of control and famine and disease ravage nations such as Yemen. The current budget requests only $35 million for Yemen, a nation that is currently dealing with massive food insecurity and the worst cholera crisis in the world. This represents a 37 percent decrease from FY17. According to the report, a decline in spending “may reduce the United States’ ability to respond to Yemen’s growing crisis.”

Search for Common Ground: Peace in Yemen Relies on Addressing Local Divisions

Search for Common Ground, an organization dedicated to conflict resolution, published a report outlining recommendations for securing peace in Yemen. The current conflict has deepened regional, political, religious, and tribal divisions, and has eroded the capacity of the centralized government to address disputes and needs. In the absence of state control, local organizations, such as civil society groups, have arisen to take responsibility. In order to establish peace and stability in Yemen, the international community must empower local leaders in their dispute resolution and peacebuilding efforts, which will facilitate social cohesion and bridge the divisions that prevent peace.

UN Special Envoy releases details of plan for al-Hudaydah

Last week, UN Special Envoy for Yemen Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed announced the details of a plan to effectively remove the governorate of al-Hudaydah from the Yemeni civil war. The plan does far more than propose a ceasefire for the vital port city; it also includes the payment of salaries to civil servants, and spells out the role of the international community. If implemented, the “al-Hudaydah Plan” could serve as a model for a nation-wide peace agreement. The Government of President Hadi and the Government of Egypt have reportedly announced their support for the plan, it is not yet clear whether any of the other warring parties will agree to the plan. Below is the YPP’s English translation of the plan, as presented by the UN Special Envoy to the Arab League.