January 16-30: Separatists seize control of Aden, EU states halt arms sales to coalition


Yemen’s government publicly called on the UAE to “stop destroying” Soqotra island, and asked the UN Security Council to take action to curb the actions of the UAE “occupying forces.” The minister of tourism said in his statement that the UAE had, among other offenses, asked the residents of Soqotra to vote on a referendum to secede from Yemen and join the UAE.


Saudi Arabia deposited $2 billion to the Central Bank of Yemen to prevent further collapse of the Yemeni riyal, which has dropped to its lowest-ever rate of exchange.


Human Rights Watch released a new report detailing how all parties in Yemen’s war are exacerbating the humanitarian crisis.


The WHO reports that malaria cases in 2016 increased by roughly 28% over the previous year. This is yet another preventable and treatable disease that could claim thousands of lives due to the destruction of Yemen’s health system, an entirely unnecessary consequence of this man-made disaster.

Germany announced that it would immediately suspend arms sales to all countries involved in Yemen’s war. Earlier this month, Norway announced that it would stop selling arms to the UAE because of its involvement in Yemen.


The Southern Transitional Council and the leadership of its military wing, the Southern Resistance Forces, issued statements accusing President Hadi’s government of corruption and of “waging war” on the south. The SRF’s statement gave Hadi an ultimatum, threatening to overthrow the government in one week unless Hadi dismisses his entire cabinet. The STC was formed by pro-independence former government officials previously dismissed from their posts by President Hadi. It and the SRF are supported and funded by the UAE.

UNOCHA released its Yemen Humanitarian Response Plan for 2018, which calls on donors to provide nearly $3 billion in funding for relief operations.


Coalition airstrikes in Sa’dah killed at least nine civilians, including five children and a pregnant woman. The strikes targeted a civilian home, a medical clinic, a flour mill, and a grain storage hangar, all of which are illegal targets under international law.

Saudi Arabia announced that it would extend its relaxation of the blockade on northern ports by another month, reserving the right to arbitrarily close the ports at will. Saudi Arabia continues to refuse requests from foreign governments and NGOs to allow unfettered commercial and humanitarian access to ports.

Houthi authorities in San’a have placed illegal restrictions on the operations of many prominent aid organizations. The impact of these new restrictions is not yet clear.

Saudi Arabia announced a new, unilateral humanitarian plan for Yemen, which aid organizations say was written without consultation with them or the UN, and which could undermine the coordinated international response. The plan would route all aid and funds through southern ports, none of which are currently equipped to handle the necessary volume. The YPP outlined objections to the plan in a recent blog post.


The UN secretary-general has named British mediator and former UN official Martin Griffiths as the new special envoy for Yemen.


According to an article in Middle East Eye, Saudi Arabia’s recent deposit to the Yemeni Central Bank, which was intended to bolster Yemen’s plummeting currency, has had no impact on the price of food and other goods essential to the survival of Yemen’s struggling population.


IOM and UNHCR reported that at least 30 east African migrants and refugees drowned after a smuggler’s ship capsized off the coast of Aden. Survivors report that the traffickers operating the ship were extorting their passengers, and had fired on some of them prior to the accident.

Al-Monitor reports that the Southern Transitional Council, funded by the UAE, has hired a DC lobbying firm to represent its interests to Congress.

Pro-coalition outlets report that coalition forces are making significant advances in Ta’iz.

Finland appears to be following the examples of Norway and Germany in halting arms sales to the UAE.


Making good on the ultimatum they issued last week, the Southern Transitional Council called for mass protests against the government in Aden today. Thousands of citizens reportedly tried to march toward government buildings. Government forces fired on protesters, sparking major clashes with Southern Resistance Forces.


Fighting between government forces and Southern Resistance Forces continued for a second day in Aden. It appears that southern militias that had been fighting on other fronts as part of the anti-Houthi coalition are heading to Aden to reinforce the fighters there. Pro-government commanders in other parts of the country also said they would redeploy to Aden.


Southern Resistance Forces took control of a crucial military base in Aden, and have arrived at the gates of the presidential palace, where Prime Minister Ahmed Bin Daghr and other cabinet members are hiding. It is reported that the government officials will be evacuated to Riyadh. SRF fighters appear to be in control of nearly all of Aden.

The fighting in Aden has forced aid organizations to suspend their work. Because of the Saudi blockade, most humanitarian assistance has been rerouted from northern ports to Aden in recent months.