May 23-29: Cholera on the rise, US kills civilians in Marib raid

Tuesday, May 23

The Associated Press reports that US special operations forces raided a suspected al-Qaeda hideout in the al-Sarim area of Marib Governorate. US Central Command claimed that at least seven militants were killed, possibly more. Later, it came to light that at least five civilians were killed, including an elderly man and a teenaged boy. It was the second publicly-acknowledged ground raid US forces have conducted in Yemen this year. The first, conducted in January, killed 25 civilians and sparked international outrage.

The Middle East Observer reports on Houthi shelling over 3 days in Taiz that caused over 57 civilian casualties, with at least 15 civilians dead. Taiz remains a front line of the conflict. Much of the city’s infrastructure has been destroyed, and cholera is on the rise.

Wednesday, May 24

CNBC discusses the new US arms deal with Saudi Arabia, the shift in American policy from Obama’s tenure to Trump’s, the history of the conflict in Yemen, the certainty of human rights violations, and what it might take to end the conflict.

Thursday, May 25

Senators Paul (R-KY), Murphy (D-CT), and Franken (D-MN) introduced a joint resolution of disapproval regarding the planned sale of US-made precision-guided munitions (PGMs) to Saudi Arabia. The senators are using the procedures outlined in the Arms Export Control Act of 1976 which allows senators to force a vote on arms sales.

The Guardian reports on Yemen’s cholera outbreak, and the possibility that a dangerous new strain may be responsible for the disease’s second wave. Malnutrition, lack of clean water, and destroyed infrastructure contribute to the epidemic, with over 2,000 new cases reported daily.

Senators Flake (R-AZ) and Kaine (D-VA) are seeking to introduce a new Authorization of the Use of Military Force to reassert congressional authority and potentially limit the president’s power to commit US forces to new theaters of conflict, while Senators Murphy (D-CT), Paul (R-KY), Franken (D-MN) and others have  introduced legislation to halt a portion of the Saudi Arabian arms sale that President Trump recently authorized.

The United Nations is calling for an investigation into an alleged Houthi attack on a UN convoy in San’a. UN special envoy Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed was in San’a for three days to discuss averting military action at the port city of al-Hudaydah, which is site for over 70% of the humanitarian aid that comes to Yemen. The General People’s Congress, the party of former President Saleh and ally of the Houthis, condemned the attack and also called for an investigation. The Houthi-run Saba news agency has however denied that an attack took place.

SAM organization released a statement calling for the closing of all illegal detention centers, where detainees are often subject to torture, operated in territories under nominal government control. A report on similar institutions run by the Houthis is forthcoming, according to SAM.

London-based human rights group Reprieve reports that the American special operations raid in Marib killed at least five civilians along with seven alleged members of al-Qaeda. One of those civilians was an elderly blind man, Nasser Al-Adhal, aged 70, who had come out to greet the Navy SEALs, mistaking them for guests.

Friday, May 26

SAM organization reports that 15 Yemeni civilians were killed and 49 injured in Taiz due to Katyusha rocket and mortar bombardment over the past three days, apparently perpetrated by the Houthi group and forces associated with former president Saleh. According to witnesses, the rocket fire was aimed at civilian homes and crowded marketplaces, in violation of international law.

Human Rights Watch notes that Ramadan, which begins Saturday, presents a unique opportunity for the armed parties to release their detainees and address their wrongful treatment. There are no hard numbers on the total held in detention, but HRW estimates there are thousands of individuals being extralegally detained. Hundreds of these detentions and disappearances are attributable to the Houthi-Saleh forces, who have detained members of the Baha’i religious community as well as political opponents. Pro-government and Saudi-led coalition forces have also detained or disappeared hundreds of individuals.

The World Health Organization has announced the largest delivery of medical supplies to Yemen since 2015 to address the growing cholera epidemic. Cholera has killed more than 400 in Yemen over the past several weeks.

Sunday, May 28

The Intercept reports that one of the five civilian victims of the American raid in Marib was 15-year-old Abdullah Saeed Salem al-Adhal, who was shot while trying to flee US troops.

A report by the Saudi Press Agency accused Saleh and Houthi forces of recruiting 15,000 children to fight as soldiers, sometimes via bribery or force. Boys as young as 15 are allegedly recruited to fight, plant mines, or act as guards or human shields.  

Al-Masdar al-Arabi reports that the Houthis reported killing a commander of a Sudanese Army unit working with Saudi-led forces, which the Sudanese deny. The Sudanese military are the largest foreign contingent of ground forces in the Saudi-led coalition, according to the article.

The AP discusses how increasingly bitter conditions have led to an increase in child brides in Yemen, as families are unable to care for their daughters, or to seek dowries to alleviate conflict-related hardship. There is no legal minimum age for marriage in Yemen.

Monday, May 29

Reuters reports that while the cholera death toll in Yemen has risen, the total infections have dropped. According to WHO, the total dead numbers at least 471, but the number of new cases reported daily has dropped significantly between May 21 and 27, compared to the previous week. The total number of infected is estimated to be nearly 52,000.

Al Arabiya reports that Yemeni National Army and Saudi-led coalition forces destroyed about 1,500 landmines in the Midi region on Sunday.

An Al Jazeera article discusses the near-famine conditions millions of Yemenis will suffer during Ramadan. More than two million children are acutely malnourished, and a child under the age of five dies of preventable diseases every 10 minutes.