January 8-15: US official optimistic about port access; WaPo previews UN Expert Panel report

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The Economist published an article on the recent movements of the Yemeni National Army. The Army had previously been trapped in a year-long stalemate, but have recently started making progress toward Hudaydah, as well as making gains in al-Jawf in the north and Shabwah in the south. The Economist attributed these recent movements to the opportunities that have been created from shifting alliances since Saleh’s death in December.


Afrah Nasser asserted in an article published by openDemocracy that Yemen continues to be the worst humanitarian crisis in the world. One point of particular concern to Nasser is the face that the number of civilian deaths reported is inconsistent with the level of suffering that is occurring on the ground.

Chatham House encourages the incorporation of subnational and local groups in an expanded mediation process

In Yemen: National Chaos, Local Order, Chatham House's Peter Salisbury identifies Yemen as a “chaos state” characterized as “a nominal entity that exists largely as lines on a map and as a concept in newspaper reports and policymaker briefings" (p. 45). The traditional solution to restoring order in a “chaos state” is creating a centralized government that dictates legitimacy from the top down. According to Salisbury’s analysis, this approach is unlikely to work in Yemen. Yemen is not purely a contest for power between the Houthis and the government of President Hadi, or purely a proxy war between Iran and Saudi Arabia, but rather “a region of mini-states at varying degrees of war with one another, and beset by their own complex internal politics and conflicts.”  

January 1-7: Houthis launch another missile at KSA, UN reports on aid access

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Al Arabiya identified four members of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard who have allegedly been advising the Houthis in San’a.

In the international arena, President Bashir of Sudan confirmed the Sudanese government's continued support of the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen.

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The Office of the Governor in al-Mahrah issued a statement asking local customs to refuse the entry of materials such as trucks, fertilizers, pipes, and motorcycles, which could have long-term negative economic effects on farmers as well as food production.

HRL and IHL Violations - December 2017

Houthi-Saleh Alliance

San’a Governorate

On December 4, 2017, Houthi forces summarily executed former president Ali Abdullah Saleh in San’a. This incident violates the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Yemen is a party.

In the month since the death of Ali Abdullah Saleh, multiple sources have reported that Houthi forces have detained and disappeared hundreds of people in San’a, and have carried out mass executions. Thus far it has been impossible to confirm the extent of these violations.

On December 5, 2017, Houthi rebels held dozens of journalists at a television station in San'a after firing rocket-propelled grenades at the headquarters of the Yemen Al Youm TV channel. This incident violates Customary IHL Rule 96 on taking hostages.

 

The War Powers Resolution and America's role in Yemen

The YPP's legal team prepared this analysis of the War Powers Resolution last year, ahead of an effort in the US House of Representatives to invoke the Resolution and end America's military involvement in Yemen's civil war. 

Historical Context

In 1964, Congress passed the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution authorizing the Executive Branch to introduce U.S. forces in South-East Asia without a declaration of war from Congress. President Johnson and Nixon subsequently escalated the initial “advise and assist” mission in South Vietnam into a full-scale war prosecuted by U.S. forces, and failed to notify Congress of a bombing campaign in Cambodia. In an attempt to avoid similar executive overreach, Congress passed the War Powers Resolution in 1973 (50 U.S.C. Chapter 33).

December 18-31: Coalition airstrikes kill hundreds in two weeks; Houthis shell homes in Ta'iz and Baydha

12/18

In another sign of the collapse of the Houthi-Saleh Alliance, Critical Threats reported that forces loyal to deceased President Saleh have stopped supporting the Houthis and have begun supporting the Emirati-led offensive to retake the Red Sea coast.

12/19

The Spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Rupert Colville, released a statement claiming there were 136 verified civilian deaths caused by Saudi-led coalition airstrikes from December 6th to December 16th. These deaths took place in San’a, Sa’dah, al-Hudaydah, and Ta’iz governorates.

YPP endorses "Yemen Can't Wait" letter

The Yemen Peace Project is proud endorse an open letter calling on the leaders of the United States, United Kingdom, and France to take immediate action to end the war in Yemen. This letter--signed by 400 prominent individuals including NGO heads, celebrities, government officials, and scholars--makes it clear that “Yemen can’t wait” another day for the world to come to its aid.

Saudi Government Statement on Easing Blockade Reinforces Status Quo

Following an attempted Houthi ballistic missile strike on Riyadh, the Saudi government announced today that the coalition would continue “opening Hudaydah port to humanitarian and relief supplies and allowing the entry of commercial ships, including fuel and food vessels, for a period of 30 days to implement the proposals” of the UN Special Envoy to Yemen concerning vessel inspection measures at Hudaydah port. The announcement was intended to elicit relief and praise  from the international community. After the Houthis’ last attempted attack on Riyadh, the Saudi government made its partial blockade of Yemeni ports total, closing humanitarian and commercial access to Yemenis bearing the brunt of the nation’s humanitarian catastrophe. It’s tempting to think that the loud and continuous outcry of the international community, with late contributions from the United States and United Kingdom, has checked the Saudi government’s most punitive impulses.

December 11-17: Coalition offensive continues in Tihamah, Islah leader meets with UAE

12/11

A pro-coalition article asserted that the United Arab Emirates is in command of the coalition/National Army/Southern Resistance offensive advancing toward Hudaydah.

Al Arabiya reported that Tehran evacuated 40 military advisors, as well as UN workers, from San’a following the death of an Iranian Missile expert who was killed last Saturday.

US Representatives Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.) and Ted Poe (R-Texas), senior members of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, are calling for new sanctions on Iran for its destabilizing activities in Yemen. They have introduced a bill they claim will hold Tehran accountable for their support of the Houthis.

December 4-10: Houthis crack down in San'a, coalition advances toward Hudaydah

12/4/2017

The US Supreme Court ruled that President Trump’s travel ban could be fully enforced while challenges to the ban proceed in lower courts. “The San Francisco-based 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals and the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Virginia, will be holding arguments on the legality of the ban this week.”

12/5

US Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis told reporters that the humanitarian situation in Yemen is likely to worsen following Saleh’s assassination. Mattis’ statements were vague, but signalled an increased concern among American officials for the humanitarian crisis.

Why we oppose the coalition's Hudaydah offensive

The Yemen Peace Project and many other advocacy and humanitarian organizations are currently using every tool at our disposal to pressure the White House to try to stop the offensive on al-Hudaydah currently being mounted by Yemeni army, Southern Resistance and coalition forces. This position is controversial. I’ve heard from many Yemeni and Yemeni-American contacts who agree with our stance on this, and from a number who disagree. So I feel it’s necessary to explain, personally, why I think the YPP’s position is the right one, and why we think this offensive should not go forward. I hope those who think I’m wrong will take the time to read it.

HRL and IHL Violations - November 2017

Houthi-Saleh Alliance

Riyadh Airport, Saudi Arabia

On November 4, 2017, Houthi forces fired a ballistic missile on Riyadh’s main international airport. This incident violates Customary IHL Chapter 3 and Chapter 6.

Ta'iz Governorate

On November 2, 2017, Houthi forces shelled a residential area killing five children and wounding two. This incident violates Customary IHL Chapter 3 and Chapter 6.

 

Human Rights Watch Recommends Sanctions Against Coalition Officials Over Blockade

Human Rights Watch recommends that the UN Security Council impose asset freezes and travel bans on senior coalition officials, including Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, unless the coalition fully lifts its blockade on Yemen. The coalition is currently restricting humanitarian aid and commercial imports from reaching civilians living in Houthi-controlled territory. The blockade contributes to the massive humanitarian crisis, causing a fuel shortage and widespread food insecurity. These actions may amount to using starvation as a tool of warfare, a war crime under international law.

November 27-December 4; Former President Saleh is Killed Amidst Violence Between Houthi and Saleh Forces

11/27

The UN, after completing a delivery of 1.9 million diphtheria vaccines shortly after the Saudi-led coalition reopened Yemen’s airspace to humanitarian flights, stated that the successful delivery through the San’a airport “cannot be a one-off,” because nearly every Yemeni child is in need of further humanitarian assistance.

Statement on the Death of Ali Abdullah Saleh

Ali Abdullah Saleh, president of the Yemen Arab Republic and then the Republic of Yemen from 1978 to 2011, was apparently killed by Houthi forces today in San’a. His death has been confirmed by members of his General People’s Congress (GPC). It follows five days of heavy fighting in San’a between forces loyal to Saleh and the Houthi militias, clashes that have killed over 100 civilians. The Yemen Peace Project calls on all sides to cease hostilities and encourages internal and international parties to renew their commitment to a negotiated end to the civil war instead of responding to the weekend’s events with further military escalation.

Deep Root Report Describes How the Conflict in Yemen Has Impacted the Food Pipeline

Deep Root, a consulting firm focused on development in Yemen, recently published a report that details how the conflict has impacted the food pipeline. Around 60% of Yemenis are food insecure, and pockets of areas hardest-hit by the food insecurity crisis have reached the point of famine. This humanitarian disaster is caused by a multitude of factors; the livelihoods of civilians have been negatively impacted by the conflict, and many people are unable to pay for the increased prices of food and fuel.

November 13-20; US House Says US Military Assistance to the Coalition is Unauthorized; Saudi Blockade Continues

11/13

Saudi Arabia announced that the Saudi-led coalition would open the ports controlled by the Hadi government, including Aden, Mokha, and Mukalla. However, the coalition wouldn’t open ports such as al-Hudaydah in Houthi-controlled territory until the UN sends experts to ensure that weapons aren’t being smuggled through them. Leaders of the Houthi organization vowed to retaliate against the Saudi-led coalition over the blockade.

We need your help to end this war!

The people of Yemen are trapped in the world’s worst humanitarian emergency. As the Houthi-Saleh alliance and the Saudi-led coalition continue to kill civilians with impunity, and Saudi Arabia maintains an illegal blockade, seven million Yemenis are at risk of starvation, and 17 million don’t know where their next meal will come from. Yemen’s grain supplies will run out in roughly 100 days. The worst cholera epidemic in history continues to rage, alongside other deadly diseases. And this entire disaster is man-made. Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and the United States are deliberately starving Yemen.

Humanitarian aid alone can’t solve this crisis. As the UN’s humanitarian coordinator for Yemen said earlier this year, the only way to prevent widespread famine “is for weapons to fall silent across the country and for the parties to the conflict to return to the negotiating table.” And that will only happen when the United States withdraws its military support for the Saudis and their allies and pressures them to make peace.

To end the humanitarian suffering, we have to end the war. And to end the war, we need to end America’s participation in it. Help us end it today!

Congress Establishes Oversight Over US Role in Yemen

On November 14, the House passed the conference bill of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2018. The finalized bill includes two provisions led by Congressman Ted Lieu that provide much-needed congressional oversight over the US’ role in Yemen, seeking to limit US participation in the war. The YPP applauds the passage of these provisions and thanks Representative Lieu for his tireless efforts to rein in US military involvement in Yemen’s civil war.