International Crisis Group published a report on October 11, 2017 explaining that the ongoing tensions within the Houthi-Saleh alliance provide the opportunity for Saudi Arabia to resolve the war in Yemen with an inclusive regional initiative. The report suggests that Saudi Arabia should capitalize on this moment of heightened strain in the Houthi-Saleh relationship and promote peace, ending a war that is economically and diplomatically costly for Saudi Arabia itself and disastrous for the Yemenis.
On October 11, 2017, the Stimson Center and Columbia Law School’s Human Rights Clinic hosted a panel discussion on past US drone practices, recent developments, and future drone policy under the Trump administration. The discussion was moderated by Rachel Stohl, Senior Associate for the Conventional Defense Program at the Stimson Center. The panelists included Waleed Alhariri from the Sana’a Center for Strategic Studies, Alex Moorehead from the Columbia Law School Human Rights Institute, and Luke Hartig from the National Journal’s Network Science Initiative.
October 10-16: US Congressmen call US involvement in Yemen unconstitutional, Tensions between Houthis and Saleh continue to grow
On October 10, 2017, the United Nations Special Envoy for Yemen briefed the Security Council on the ongoing War in Yemen. The envoy, Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed, reported that intense fighting continues on all major fronts including Ta‘iz, Marib, al-Jawf, al-Baydha, Hajjah and Sa‘dah governorates, and the Saudi-Yemen border areas. Civilian casualties also continue to mount due to a disregard for international humanitarian law by all parties to the conflict. On August 25, 2017, an airstrike in San‘a killed fourteen civilians while injuring an additional sixteen. Shelling of residential areas by Houthi-Saleh forces also continues. The envoy reported civilian deaths, including eight children, in Ta‘iz from rocket fire.
AP reports that the World Health Organization could have acted faster and sent more vaccines sooner in order to stave off the worst of Yemen’s cholera crisis.
ReliefWeb reports that FAO and the World Bank are launching a $36 million initiative to combat the famine conditions in Yemen, aiding 630,000 and strengthening rural communities.
The Intercept reports that four members of the House of Representatives will force a vote on whether the US should continue its military involvement in Yemen’s war, where it supports the Saudi- and Emirati-led intervention.
In the paper “The evolution of militant Salafism in Taiz,” activist and scholar Bushra Al-Maqtari argues that the rise of the Houthi movement and the outbreak Yemen’s armed conflict have driven a transformation of Salafi groups in Yemen. Since the establishment of the first Salafist center in Yemen in the 1980s, most Salafi factions have focused on charity, relief, and intellectual institutions, and have been governed by the Islamic notion of Wali al-Amr that rejected the disobedience to the ruler and distanced the movement from political action
The AP reports that Saudi diplomats, lobbying at the UN Human Rights Council against the creation of a commission of inquiry into war crimes and rights violations in Yemen, has threatened economic consequences for states that support an inquiry.
Quartz reports that UN humanitarian coordinator Jamie McGoldrick sees little hope for Yemen, anticipating that conditions will get even worse due to a lack of political will to end the war. He anticipates the cholera epidemic will continue to spread, while further outbreaks of meningitis, Dengue fever, and other diseases will accompany January’s rainy season.
Human Rights Watch recently issued a detailed press release concerning violations of international human rights law in Yemen. Both the Saudi-led coalition and Houthi forces have obstructed the import and dissemination of critical aid for civilians, including fuel, medicine, food, and critical support infrastructure. According to Human Rights Watch, international humanitarian law (under Common Article 3 to the Geneva Conventions of 1949, Protocol II to the Geneva Conventions, and customary international humanitarian law for a non-international armed conflict) requires warring parties to allow humanitarian personnel free movement. It also requires any warring party that imposes a blockade to do so in a manner that balances the anticipated military advantage with the potential harm to civilians. Human Rights Watch has identified numerous instances in which both parties to the conflict in Yemen have violated international humanitarian law, with devastating consequences for the civilian population.
On Thursday the Congressional Progressive Caucus hosted a briefing for staff members by Mr. Jamie McGoldrick, the United Nations Resident Coordinator/Humanitarian Coordinator and United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Resident Representative for the Republic of Yemen. The briefing was facilitated by the YPP's director for policy and advocacy Kate Kizer. In the briefing, Mr. McGoldrick spoke about the deteriorating humanitarian situation in Yemen, and what the US and other foreign powers can do to address what has become the world's largest humanitarian disaster. Below is an audio recording of the full briefing.
Washington, DC— On Wednesday, Representatives Ro Khanna (D-CA), Thomas Massie (R-KY), Mark Pocan (D-WI), and Walter Jones (R-NC) introduced House Concurrent Resolution 81 to force a congressional debate and vote on America’s military involvement in Yemen’s civil war. US law requires the president to consult with Congress before introducing US forces into a conflict, and gives Congress the authority to end any military action that has been ordered by the president. HCR 81 directs the president “to remove United States Armed forces from unauthorized hostilities in the Republic of Yemen.” The Yemen Peace Project applauds the efforts of Reps. Khanna, Massie, Pocan, and Jones, and urges all members of the House to vote in favor of HCR 81.
In a recent piece for Just Security, Former NSC Senior Director for Counterterrorism Luke Hartig recently analyzed the Trump administration’s new drone strike policies and their implications for human rights, national security, and U.S. foreign policy. According to The New York Times, President Trump is considering a new policy for drone strikes recommended by his national security team. The administration is expected to publish a Principles, Standards, and Procedures (PSP) document, which will replace the Presidential Policy Guidance (PPG) that was drafted during President Obama’s administration. The revised policy could substantially impact counterterrorism operations around the world, particularly Yemen.
Al Jazeera reports that the UK has made over $8 billion in arms sales to Saudi Arabia, with the government receiving about $40 million in corporate taxes as a result - only a small portion of the profit, most of which is taken by private arms corporations.
On September 24, President Trump signed a new proclamation placing restrictions on immigration and travel to the United States for nationals of certain countries. This is the White House’s third attempt to ban travel to the US based on national origin alone. Like the previous travel bans, this one is justified by the administration on national security grounds. But experts and officials within Trump’s own government have previously found that such restrictions do not have any positive impact on security. Rather than a legitimate security measure, this proclamation is a politically-motivated gesture intended to satisfy xenophobic, Islamophobic, and racist elements within the US. Unlike the previous “Muslim Ban” orders, this document adds two states that are not predominantly Muslim to the list of effective countries. Nevertheless, as US federal courts have confirmed based on the president’s own statements, these orders are all attempts to realize Trump’s campaign promise to ban foreign Muslims from entering the US. The Yemen Peace Project condemns this discriminatory decree, and calls on the courts and Congress to overturn these restrictions, as US law demands.
Human Rights Watch said that recent coalition airstrikes that killed children in Yemen likely constitute war crimes. The human rights organizations specifically cites four air strikes that struck civilian homes and one that destroyed a grocery store.
Human Rights Watch also urged Congress to suspend arms sales to Saudi Arabia and help curb the proliferation of war crimes in Yemen.
WASHINGTON, DC--On September 12, fourteen members of Congress sent an official letter to Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley urging her to call “for an independent, international investigation into the allegations of violations of human rights and international humanitarian law in Yemen,” after more than two years of abuses by all sides in Yemen’s civil war that have continued with impunity. The Yemen Peace Project applauds this effort, which echoes a letter the YPP and 66 other NGOs previously delivered to members of the UN Human Rights Council.
In a meeting with the Saudi foreign minister, UK Prime Minister Theresa May emphasized the importance of ending the Yemen conflict and complying with international humanitarian law. Activists have called the UK government complicit in the Saudi-led coalition’s alleged crimes in Yemen.
The United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) published a report on the situation of human rights in Yemen. The report enumerates the violations of international humanitarian law (IHL) and international human rights law committed by all parties to the conflict in Yemen since September 2014, when the Houthi-Saleh coup against the legitimate government began. Civilians face indiscriminate and targeted military attacks, arbitrary and illegal arrest and detention, restricted access to humanitarian aid, and a devastating blockade that smothers the economy. Furthermore, violators throughout Yemen are committing such offenses with total impunity.
The United Nations Human Rights Council (UNCHR) has the legal authority and supporting precedents to establish an independent international commission of investigation (“CoI”) in respect of the conflict in Yemen. Its failure to do so is completely inconsistent with well-established UN practice.
The 1991 UN General Assembly (UNGA) “Declaration on Fact-finding by the United Nations in the Field of the Maintenance of International Peace and Security” makes clear that “[f]act-finding should be comprehensive, objective, impartial and timely.” The Declaration also recommends “using the United Nations fact-finding capabilities at an early stage in order to contribute to the prevention of disputes and situations.”
Saudi Arabia campaigned at the United Nations in an attempt to emphasize its humanitarian role in Yemen, stating that the country has donated over $8 billion to assist Yemen. Saudi Arabia is concerned about the UN child rights blacklist and a possible UN human rights inquiry into crimes in Yemen.
The Abductees’ Mothers Association in Yemen recently released a statement revealing an extralegal detention facility run by Houthi militias within the central prison in Hudaydah province. The Hunaysh detention facility has reportedly been used to illegally hold 70 female abductees without rights or access to counsel since January 2017.