July 31-August 6: Military offensive opens against AQAP in Shabwah; civilians killed in Sa'dah

Monday, July 31

Yemen expert Peter Salisbury penned an article for Chatham House warning that the country’s war economy, in which President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi, militia leaders, and others have stakes, is undermining efforts toward a diplomatic solution to the ongoing civil war. Read more here.

Tuesday, August 1

Reuters reported that the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps has begun using a new route to transport weapons to the Houthis. The route, which was selected in order to evade the blockade on Yemen, reportedly runs through Kuwaiti waters. The Kuwaiti foreign minister denied the report.

Brookings Institution scholar Bruce Riedel wrote in Al Monitor that the war in Yemen provides opportunities for Iran, emphasizing that the Houthi militia is not an Iranian “pawn” but describing Iranian support for the Houthi war effort as “a very inexpensive means to bog down the Saudi kingdom in a quagmire.” He recommended that the United States seek a swift end to the war.

An article in Middle East Eye lambasted the British government for its military and diplomatic alliance with Saudi Arabia, which has grown closer in recent years despite the latter’s poor human rights record in Yemen. Journalist and author Dan Glazebrook critiqued the United Kingdom’s secretive approach to information and records regarding the British-Saudi relationship.

Wednesday, August 2

CNN reported that over one Yemeni million children under the age of five are at especially high risk of contracting cholera, because they are malnourished and live in areas with high rates of infection. Malnourished children are particularly vulnerable to disease, and cholera treatment is widely unavailable in the war-torn country.

Queen Mary University of London lecturer Jonathan Kennedy penned an article in the Guardian arguing that Saudi Arabia is to blame for the cholera outbreak in Yemen. He noted the destruction of medical facilities and the Hadi government’s failure to pay public employees in areas controlled by forces aligned with the Houthis or former president Ali Abdullah Saleh. His conclusion was that “the outbreak is not simply an inevitable consequence of civil war. It is rather a direct outcome of the Saudi-led coalition’s strategy of targeting civilians and infrastructure in rebel-controlled areas.”

Several “human rights, civil liberties, and religious organizations” signed a joint letter, addressed to top American officials, urging greater transparency in investigations into human rights abuses by US-backed Emirati forces in Yemen. The letter warned that the United States may be complicit in torture or ill-treatment in violation of the country’s treaty obligations.

Thursday, August 3

The Independent reported that Saudi Arabia has been obstructing United Nations humanitarian efforts in Yemen by preventing fuel deliveries to UN planes.

An op-ed in the Los Angeles Times raised moral and legal concerns over the close US-Saudi military partnership, pointing out that US-made weapons have been used by Saudi Arabia in potential war crimes in Yemen. The article traced responsibility for the humanitarian catastrophe in Yemen, including massive malnourishment, food shortages, and a deadly cholera outbreak, to the United States and its allies.

A Washington Post article described emerging tensions between the United States and the United Arab Emirates as the latter pursues independent interests across Southwest Asia. Among the strains on the US-Emirati alliance are the UAE’s disruption of American diplomatic efforts in Yemen and Emirati forces’ human rights abuses, in which the United States, by virtue of its support for the UAE and its allies, is implicated. Read more here.

Reuters reported that a suicide car bomb in Yemen’s Shabwah province killed five soldiers. Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) is suspected of initiating the attack.

Friday, August 4

Reuters reported that a Yemeni military operation, backed by the United States and the United Arab Emirates, forced AQAP militants out of cities in Yemen’s southern Shabwah province.

Middle East Monitor reported that one primary objective of Emirati military activity in Yemen is to combat the Islah Party, some components of which are affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood.

Saturday, August 5

A Saudi-led coalition airstrike on a home in Yemen’s northern Sa’dah province killed nine members of the same family, including three women and six children.

Sunday, August 6

United Nations Humanitarian Coordinator in Yemen Jamie McGoldrick condemned the recent airstrike carried out by the Saudi-led coalition in the northern Yemeni province of Sa’dah. At least 12 civilians, including children, were killed in the strike, and 10 others were wounded.

A New York Times article described the ongoing US-backed operation on AQAP forces in Yemen’s Shabwah province in greater detail, noting that the operation was the largest conducted against AQAP since the raid on Mukalla in April of 2016. Approximately 2,000 Yemeni soldiers are carrying out the operation with backing from American and Emirati advisors and with the help of American aerial refueling.

Ambassador Antonia Calvo Puerta, who heads the European Union delegation to Yemen, arrived in San’a for talks with the Houthis over the United Nations proposal for a deal between the warring parties regarding the port at al-Hudaydah.