March 14-19: Somalia calls for investigation, tensions grow within coalition

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

President Trump met with Saudi Deputy Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman today for talks that are likely to focus partially on limiting Iranian influence in the region, says the Guardian.

The UN envoy to Yemen stated that the Saud-led coalition backing President Hadi and the Houthi-Saleh alliance both refuse to discuss peace efforts in the face of the escalating violence in the country.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Local media sources report that Saudi-led coalition airstrikes east of San’a killed at least 12 Houthi soldiers today.

The United Nations again emphasizes that Yemen urgently needs assistance to prevent famine in the country. Levels of food insecurity have increased by 21% since June of 2016, according to the report. The ongoing conflict is the main reason for the levels of food insecurity seen today.

The State Department announced that it would offer a $5 million reward for information on the killers of an American educator, Joel Shrum, 5 years ago in Ta’iz. The attack was claimed by a group affiliated with al-Qaeda.

13-year-old Alhassan Ishaq and two other young Yemeni tennis players represented Yemen in a youth tournament in Doha, Qatar last week.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

A Hawaii federal judge called an emergency halt to the revised travel ban by the Trump administration before it could take effect.  

A citizen of the United Arab Emirates was sentenced to 10 years in prison yesterday for joining an affiliate of Islamic State located in Yemen, according to the Associated Press.

The Intercept released an article today stating that SEAL Team 6, which conducted the January raid in Yakla which killed a large number of civilians, attempted a second raid earlier this month, which was “aborted at the last minute.” Yemeni witnesses reported that US forces were on the ground in the country during the recent upsurge in US airstrikes in March, which the Pentagon denied at the time.

Friday, March 17, 2017

The New York Times reports that the Saudi-led coalition attacked a boat of Somali refugees during the night. Although Yemeni officials say that the strike was carried out by Saudi coalition forces, the coalition has not acknowledged this thus far.

The SABA news agency, controlled by the Hadi government, announced that 22 Yemeni soldiers were killed by Houthi missiles today in Marib province, according to the Associated Press.

The European Union’s international development chief notes that President Trump’s proposed budget cuts, which would significantly reduce development assistance, counter the development goals that the United States committed to in 2015 during a United Nations summit. Such development assistance is crucial in countering Yemen’s looming prospect of famine.

Human Rights Watch reported today on the use of cluster munitions by the Saudi-led coalition, with arms director Steve Goose saying that it reflected a “callous disregard for civilian lives.” Most recently, the use of these cluster munitions wounded two boys who were playing on their family’s farm in Sa’dah governorate. This type of bomb is banned by 100 countries, but Yemen, Saudi Arabia, and Brazil, where the munitions are manufactured, are not among them.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

According to the UNHCR, 42 people were killed in the attack on a Somali refugee boat on Friday. The Somali government today blamed the Saudi-led coalition for the attack on a boat of refugees. The coalition, however, denies that they are responsible.

The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) released a bulletin on Yemen today. It highlights the many urgent issues that the country faces, including the problem of food security, the detrimental effects of the war on the economy, the recent cholera outbreak, and the record numbers of refugees like those killed on Friday who are fleeing violence and drought in the Horn of Africa.

Middle East Eye focuses on the growing split between two groups within the Saudi-led coalition. There is increasing tension between the southern Yemeni independence movement and the UAE, and the internationally recognized Hadi government, particularly in the city of Aden. These tensions have materialized in recent clashes between UAE-trained Southern Resistance forces and Hadi’s presidential forces at the Aden airport. The Southern Movement hopes for an independent southern Yemen in the future, a desire that they fear Hadi will not support when the civil war comes to an end.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

The Saudi-led coalition has called for the United Nations to supervise the port of Hudaydah, after the attack on a boat of refugees from Somalia who were leaving Hudaydah for Sudan. It is not clear what, exactly, Saudi Arabia is proposing, since the UN already inspects all shipping bound for the port of Hudaydah, and the boat attacked last week did not depart from that port. Meanwhile, Somalia has demanded that the Saudi coalition conduct an investigation into the attack. The boat that was attacked was carrying at least 140 refugees at the time, according the UNHCR.