March 27-April 3: US considers expanded military role in Middle East, UN special envoy calls for political solution in Yemen

Monday, March 27, 2017

The US is in the process of weighing a greater military role in Yemen through direct support for the Saudi-led coalition, Reuters says. This appears to be a response to evidence of greater Iranian military support for the Houthi-Saleh alliance.

At least 11 people were killed in a suicide bombing in al-Houta, Lahj province, according to Reuters. The attack is suspected to have been carried out by al-Qaeda militants.

Reuters also reports that rates of child marriage have significantly increased since the beginning of the war in Yemen, according to UNICEF. Over two thirds of Yemeni girls are now married before the age of 18, as opposed to half of girls before the conflict. This large increase is primarily due to families’ inability to feed their children as famine looms closer in the country.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

In case the Port of Hudaydah is attacked, the United Nations is considering utilizing other Yemeni ports such as the Port of Aden in order to prevent the food crisis from worsening.

Local security officials claim to have captured a senior al-Qaeda leader in Hadramawt province, according to Reuters.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

UNICEF says that the lack of clean water in countries facing famine such as Yemen poses additional risks to malnourished populations. The UN requires $4 billion by the end of March in order to respond to the 14.5 million in Yemen and millions more in South Sudan, Somalia, and Nigeria who lack access to clean water and sanitation.

Meanwhile, the UN special envoy to Yemen, Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed, urges the UN Security Council to put pressure on both sides of the conflict to engage in constructive diplomacy in order to put an end to the war and create a transitional government.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

The Yemeni Embassy in Washington, D.C. wrote to US Senate staff protesting a briefing with two Yemeni civil society activists organized by the Yemen Peace Project. The Yemen Peace Project rejects the Yemeni Embassy’s claims that the participants in this event have ties to the Houthi-Saleh alliance.

Friday, March 31, 2017

The UN special envoy to Yemen advocated against military operations near the port of Hudaydah, according to Reuters. The port is relied on for 70 percent of Yemen’s food imports.

Three suspected members of al-Qaeda were killed in a drone strike believed by locals to have been carried out by the US. The group also took responsibility today for the suicide bombing attack in Lahj province on Monday.

Seven humanitarian workers employed by the International Medical Corps have been detained by Houthi forces, who accuse them of spying for foreign intelligence, according to the Associated Press.

Saturday, April 1, 2017

AP notes the steady expansion of the US military’s authority to conduct offensive actions under the Trump administration. This week, President Trump gave the Pentagon greater authority to conduct airstrikes in Somalia, part of a trend which has already included similarly expanded authority for the US military in Yemen as well. Through declaration of parts of both countries as “areas of active hostilities,” the US military has gained increasing authority over activities there. The potential increase in military support for the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen marks another aspect of this military expansion. The Associated Press article emphasizes that this approach may come with a higher death toll on both civilians in the countries affected and on American soldiers. Another concern is the possibility for military operations to become separated from overall US policy.

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Scotland Yard is investigating potential war crimes by Saudi Arabia in Yemen, according to the Guardian.

Al Jazeera focuses on the factors that push refugees from many African countries to flee to Yemen, such as those killed in the recent airstrike on a boat outside the Port of Hudaydah on the Yemeni coast. These include inaccurate information about the situation in Yemen spread by smugglers or through word of mouth, and stories of successful migration on social media. Al Jazeera recommends utilizing informal means of awareness-raising to provide would-be migrants with accurate information on what to expect, which are likely to be more successful in conveying messages than campaigns that rely on access to television or the internet to function.

According to TRT World, teachers in Taiz demonstrated today in protest of unpaid salaries.

Monday, April 3, 2017

Al-Arabiya reports that the seven aid workers detained earlier this week by Houthi forces, who include five members of the International Medical Corps and two contracted drivers, were released today from detention in San’a.