March 15-21: Pompeo intensifies bellicose rhetoric, Yemeni government claims victories in Sa’dah

Friday, March 15

At a press conference, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo explained the Trump administration’s view that continuing military support for the Saudi-led coalition would help defeat the Houthis, which would ensure just peace. He further claimed that ending military support would handicap the coalition, which would prolong the conflict. This position is at odds with the assessments of most experts.

Saturday, March 16

To address the deficit in electricity generation, Yemen’s Aden refinery is seeking 90,000 tons of oil product. Fuel supplies have run low as a result of import restrictions imposed by the coalition and Yemeni government, as well as the diversion of fuel to the black market by multiple parties to the conflict.

Sunday, March 17

The Houthis have stated that their forces would be ready to strike Riyadh and Abu Dhabi if the coalition breaches the UN-brokered ceasefire in al-Hudaydah. A Houthi spokesman said the group has a “stockpile of missiles” that are capable of reaching the two Gulf capitals. This response comes after Houthi intelligence allegedly became aware of coalition preparation for escalation in Hudaydah.

A hospital in Ta’iz has treated 3,000 patients since it reopened two weeks ago. The number of patients who need treatment increase daily.

Monday, March 18

Al-Masdar reports that fighting between Houthi and coalition forces killed a woman and child, and injured four other civilians in the al-Za’fran neighborhood of Hudaydah City.

Following a large-scale military operation with the coalition, the Yemeni army claimed to have taken control of several villages and areas in the Houthi stronghold of Sa’dah Governorate. The government often claims to have “cleared” or secured a given area multiple times before actually achieving control, as has been the case on the Midi front in Hajjah Governorate.

Activists in the UK are protesting their government’s arms sales to Saudi Arabia following the proposed sale of more Eurofighter Typhoon jets. Protesters are saying the sales are illegal under international law. A February report by a group of parliamentarians from all parties confirmed that the UK’s deals with Saudi Arabia have put the government “on the wrong side of the law.”

The number of civilian casualties has risen since the Stockholm agreement, and the number of casualties in Hajjah and Ta’iz have doubled in this time. The Yemen country director for Oxfam noted that with every day that passes without progress toward peace, more Yemenis lose their lives and suffering worsens.

Aden al-Ghad newspaper tweeted that cases of Dengue fever are increasing in Aden, “in the absence of actions by the government to combat it.”

Tuesday, March 19

In Lahij governorate, Saudi Arabia’s KSRelief touted a pilot project management course for female heads of households as part of their Yemen Livelihood Improvement Project. The program trained 100 women in skills to help manage, market, and sell products. Courses included sewing, hairdressing and food preparation.

A German court ruled that the German government has a duty to ensure that any activity undertaken on US military bases in Germany relating to drone strikes must comply with international law. The decision is being considered a partial victory by critics of US policy.

Wednesday, March 20

Yemen’s government believes that the Houthis have abandoned the Stockholm agreement by receiving military reinforcements and launching campaigns in different areas.

The Trump administration has missed a congressional deadline to detail US strategy in Yemen. The administration has missed other deadlines in relation to questions regarding Saudi Arabia, and strategy remains unclear.

Yemen suffers from water scarcity, and the conflict has obscured the reality that water networks are running dry and the threats of desertification and drought are increasing. The lack of water has additionally undercut agriculture and has decreased the availability of drinkable water.

Following concern that the grain stored in Hudaydah’s Red Sea mills was rotten, the UN confirmed that much of the grain is fit to eat. However, it was confirmed that the wheat had been infested with insects and it would need to be fumigated. The WFP is waiting for clearance to begin fumigating this vital food source.

Thursday, March 21

The Women’s Solidarity Network of Yemen released a 10-point proposal to work toward peace in the besieged city of Ta’iz. The peace plan includes the following proposals: that all parties work toward a comprehensive ceasefire and withdrawal, that the Houthis allow civilians and relief aid to move in and out of the city and hand over mine maps of the area, that all detainees be released immediately, without conditions, and that all parties cease the practice of arbitrary detention/arrests, that government leadership immediately investigate the issue of gender-based violence in the area and rovide funding for the reconstruction of the city, and that the UN envoy prioritize Ta’iz as part of the national peacebuilding agenda and include women in the peacebuilding process.

The US ambassador to Yemen blamed the Houthis for the stalling of the implementation of the UN-brokered peace deal in Hudaydah. The ambassador further said that the Houthis’ weapons pose a threat to regional countries. Ambassador Tueller has played a disruptive role in the peace process for years, and has been openly hostile to humanitarian relief efforts as well.

Reuters interviewed a man in Hajjah province whose daughter, Afaf, suffers from malnutrition and hepatitis. Afaf is ten years old and weighs twenty-four pounds. Her father reflects on inflation and the lack of job opportunities, which have contributed to his family’s deteriorating situation.

Speaking to the Christian Broadcasting Network during a visit to Jerusalem, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that “as a Christian,” he believes it is “possible” that Donald Trump was “raised” by God to save the Jewish people from Iran. Pompeo added that he is “confident that the Lord is at work here.” The Trump administration has consistently employed Christian extremist and white supremacist appeals to justify its foreign and domestic policies.