March 29-April 4: Fighting escalates in al-Dhali', House passes War Powers bill

Friday, March 29

In an interview with The Guardian, Mohamed Ali al-Houthi criticized UK Foreign Minister Jeremy Hunt for pressuring Germany to end its ban on arms sales to Saudi Arabia, saying that the UK can not be a peace-broker and an arms seller. German parties have reached a compromise that will extend the ban for another six months, while allowing German firms to fulfill existing contracts with other European arms makers.

Aden al-Ghad reports that a Southern Yemeni women’s group, Southern Women for Southern Independence, sent a letter to the UN. The letter expressed the group’s objections to not having been included in the recent Yemeni Women’s Conference entitled “Mediators for Peace,” organized by UN Women in Amman, Jordan.

Saturday, March 30

SPA reports that government forces “besieged” areas in southeast Ta’iz, and “liberated” areas in al-Aqrud from the Houthis.

Sunday, March 31

In a letter to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, the UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Dr. Anwar Gargash rejects a report by the Group of Eminent experts on Yemen and instead believes that the Human Rights Council should refocus efforts on supporting Yemen’s government. The UAE is responsible for the abduction, torture, and murder of Yemeni civilians in their network of extralegal prisons in the south, as well as for war crimes associated with the coalition’s air campaign.

Monday, April 1

The pro-government members of Yemen’s parliament will hold their first parliamentary session since civil war began in 2014. The government has secured the required quorum of more than 134 MPs for the session, although the venue and date of the session have not been confirmed. MP Mohamed Al Shadadi states that “reactivating the parliament will support the legitimacy of the internationally-recognized government and will play an observatory role on the performance of the current government."

The US carried out its first acknowledged airstrikes in Yemen since January 1st. The airstrikes occurred in al-Bayda province and targeted alleged AQAP affiliates there.

Al Jazeera reports on footage they obtained that shows child soldiers in the Saudi-led coalition’s recruitment camps. The UN states that two-thirds of child soldiers in Yemen fight for the Houthis and the other third fights for the coalition. Often children from poverty-stricken areas are targeted for recruitment, and agree to leave on the premise that they will be paid. A father of one boy who left for war and has not been heard from since told Al Jazeera that the government should have sent the children back to school, “but in a time like this, conscience is dead.”

Official statistics are not available, but a report from the World Bank presents evidence that GDP has decreased by an accumulated thirty-nine percent since the end of 2014. Hypothetically, if fighting is contained by mid-2019, GDP is projected to have double-digit growth in the second half of the year. Despite growth that would occur, poverty is projected to remain high.

Reuters reports on a doctor, Mohammed Abdul-Mughni, who recently died of cholera. According to the UN, the disease is spreading like “wildfire,” with 110,000 suspected cases and 200 deaths in the last three months. The temporary diarrhea treatment center Abdul-Mughni worked at sees around 120-150 severe cases arrive every day.

Fighting between government forces and the Houthis is in its fourth day in al-Dhali’ province, following the Houthi redeployment of more than three brigades previously located in al-Hudaydah. Al-Dhali’ is of strategic importance due to its location between Aden and San’a.

SPA reports that government forces pushed the Houthis to retreat from areas in Hays District in the south of Hudaydah Governorate. Arab news further states that Yemen’s army has made strategic progress in ‘Abs District, on the coast of Hajjah.

The Abductees’ Mothers Association issued an urgent call for action on civilian abductees in San’a via Twitter. Many civilian abductees have been held without visitation rights for approximately two weeks, as well as being denied access to food and medicine.

Al-Masdar Online reports that the Houthis have obstructed and delayed the payment of salaries to government health workers in areas under their control by demanding that employees be paid in old paper money rather than the new currency the Yemeni government has had printed in Russia, the legitimacy of which the Houthis deny.

A prominent tribal leader from ‘Amran province, Shaykh Ahmed Salim, was killed by the Houthis in San’a, reports al-Masdar Online.

According to al-Masdar Online, a prominent AQAP explosives expert was arrested in Abyan province today by UAE-backed security forces.

Tuesday, April 2

The Houthis have denied the United Nations access to grain stored in the in the Red Sea Mills facility in the port city of Hudaydah. The Houthis claimed the WFP team could not access the grain for “security reasons.”

UAE-backed forces launched a security operation in al-Dhali’ to track down Houthi fighters that are fleeing battle in the province. The operation has detained at least eight militia members. All the while, clashes are causing dozens of casualties on both sides.

SPA reports that 167 Houthi fighters have died as a result of the clashes occurring in al-Dhali’ province. Arab News does not indicate if SPA reported on coalition casualties.

Wednesday, April 3

A hearing was held for Hamed Bin Haydara, a prominent Baha’i leader held on espionage and apostasy charges and sentenced to death. The hearing was “inconclusive.” Haydara and other members of the religious minority are being held on false charges and have been subject to imprisonment and torture by the Houthis.

Following the kidnapping and killing of one of its patients, Medecins Sans Frontieres has suspended work at a hospital in Aden. The organization expressed concern about the deterioration of security in Aden.

The Saudi-led coalition claims to have shot down two Houthi drones over Saudi Arabia. The debris injured five people, and damaged some houses and vehicles.

Houthi militias raided the house of an army colonel in San’a today, kidnapping three of his sons, reports Aden al-Ghad.

Thursday, April 4

The US House of Representatives voted in support of S.J.Res.7 to end US involvement in the war in Yemen by invoking the War Powers Resolution of 1973. This is the first time in history that a bill regarding Yemen has passed in both the House and Senate, and the first time that Congress has used the War Powers Resolution as it was intended. The legislation will now go to President Trump, who has already stated that he intends to veto the bill.

A Saudi-led mine-clearing effort removed 55 thousand mines in 2018, according to Hadhramawt Net.

Aden al-Ghad reports that clashes between the Baqtiyan and Al Shajarah tribes in Mudiyah District of Abyan today resulted in three wounded.

An article from al-Masdar Online discusses a recent order from the Yemeni Central Bank to foreign exchange agencies in Aden to cease trading currency for an unspecified amount of time. The article states that this order is the first step in a new attempt by the Central Bank to standardize exchange rates and strengthen the Yemeni rial.