January 27-February 3: US threatens to enter Yemen’s war as protests halt immigration ban

Friday, January 27
President Trump signed an executive order designed to bar all nationals of Yemen, Iran, Iraq, Libya, Syria, Somalia, and Sudan from entering the US for at least 90 days and suspend refugee resettlement for 120 days. Thousands of immigrants, non-immigrant visitors, and legal permanent residents of the US were detained or deported upon arrival at US airports in the three days following the order; many more were kicked off of flights on their way to the US. In the days that followed, multiple federal courts issued orders forbidding implementation of part or all of the president’s directive. The State Department and Department of Homeland Security later clarified the executive order, saying officially that US residents with green cards and (eventually) visitors holding valid visas would be allowed into the country.

Sunday, January 29
US forces conducted a raid in al-Baydha, Yemen which targeted al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) militants. The US military announced that the action resulted in the deaths of 14 AQAP-affiliated operatives and one US Navy SEAL; a local Yemeni official stated that 16 civilians—eight women and eight children—were also killed during the raid. Among those killed was Nawar al-Awlaqi, the eight-year-old daughter of the late AQAP propagandist Anwar al-Awlaqi. Nawar was a US citizen. Other sources reported a higher number of civilian casualties; according to eye witnesses, US forces and aircraft fired on multiple civilian buildings, including a mosque, a school, and a medical clinic.

Monday, January 30
Houthi fighters used small boats to carry out a suicide attack on a Saudi warship off the Red Sea Coast. This marks a new tactic for the Houthis. Two Saudi sailors were killed in the attack.

The UN Panel of Experts on Yemen, appointed by the Security Council, delivered its latest report, in which it presented evidence that Houthi-GPC forces and Saudi-led coalition forces have likely committed war crimes in Yemen. The report also cited evidence of Iranian-made small arms being smuggled to the Houthis.

Rockets fired by Houthi-Saleh forces into Saudi Arabia hit a building used by United Nations staff and the committee established to promote and monitor ceasefires in Yemen. No casualties were reported.

Thursday, February 2
Hundreds of Yemeni-American small business owners across New York City closed their stores and other businesses in an act of protest against President Trump’s executive order banning Yemenis and others from entering the US. The strike was followed by a protest rally at Brooklyn’s Borough Hall, which drew more than 2,000 people. This was the largest protest action organized by Yemeni Americans to date.

Friday, February 3
US National Security Advisor Michael Flynn characterized the Houthi movement as a “proxy terrorist group” of Iran in statements to the White House press corps. This is the first time a US official has described the Houthis as terrorists. The rhetoric is seen as part of a push within the Trump administration for direct US military action against the Houthis, which the administration views as a way to appear tough on Iran.

The US has deployed the USS Cole, a destroyer equipped with guided missiles, to the Bab al-Mandab as a show of force.