June 5-June 12: Support for Senate Resolution of Disapproval Grows; Houthis Declare Boycott of UN Envoy

Monday, June 5

The Yemeni government cut off diplomatic ties with Qatar, accusing it of supporting its opponents, the Houthis, and extremist groups.

Just Security published a piece analyzing the relationship between defense industry contributions to Senators and their past votes on arms deals. Senators who voted for, rather than against, the arms deal put to a vote in September received on average $12,000 more in contributions from the industry.

Bruce Riedel of the Brookings Institution wrote that the $110 billion US-Saudi arms sale that Trump has touted as a foreign policy achievement was “fake news.” According to Riedel, the “arms deal” was in fact a series of non-committal letters of intent, compounded by sales initiated under the Obama administration. A later analysis by the Washington Post’s “Fact Checker” broke the deal down to its components and determined that the Trump administration’s claims about it were mostly false.

Tuesday, June 6

The US State Department approved the sale of $1.4 billion in military training and equipment to Saudi Arabia.

The New York Times reported that Scott Darden, who managed humanitarian shipments for organizations including UNICEF and ICRC as the country coordinator for logistics firm Transoceanic Development, maintained secret ties to the United States military during his time in Yemen. Read YPP’s statement on the incident here.

ThinkProgress published an op-ed criticizing American President Donald Trump’s stances on Yemen and the US-Saudi relationship.

Middle East Eye reported a Houthi decision to discontinue contact with UN Special Envoy to Yemen Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed, accusing him of bias. Saleh al-Samad, who heads the Supreme Political Council created by the Houthis and Ali Abdullah Saleh’s General People’s Congress to govern territories controlled by those groups, announced that communications with Ahmed would be terminated and that the UN envoy would no longer be permitted entry into Houthi-held territories.

The Independent reported on the role of British arms sales to Saudi Arabia in human rights violations in Yemen.

The World Health Organization reported that cholera-related deaths in Yemen surpassed 700. Its statement warned that “this outbreak ‘second wave’ doesn’t seem to have yet reached its peak.”

Wednesday, June 7

Anadolu Agency reported that, in the wake of a diplomatic spat during which several Arab countries cut ties with Qatar, the latter withdrew its forces from Yemen. Qatar was a member of the Saudi-led coalition, but its troops returned to their home country.

A New York Times editorial condemning Trump’s approach to the Saudi-Qatari diplomatic spat called on Congress to “refuse to resupply the Saudis with precision-guided munitions that are killing civilians in Yemen and implicating America in the process.”

UNOCHA appealed for more funds to help stem the spread of a cholera epidemic that has resulted in nearly 800 deaths.

Thursday, June 8

In the wake of reports that the US Senate may vote on a bipartisan resolution of disapproval regarding the sale of $510 million in advanced munitions to Saudi Arabia as soon as this week, a number of NGOs rallied against the arms sale. 41 NGOs signed a statement urging the Senate to vote for the resolution of disapproval, and Amnesty International warned that “the US government may be complicit in serious violations of international law, including war crimes” if the deal goes through. Oxfam released a statement warning that “as long as American bombs are involved in the conflict, more lives will be lost. And we will be complicit.”

An opinions contributor to US News & World Report, Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson, endorsed the resolution of disapproval in the US Senate. Wilkerson emphasized that Congress must step up its role in promoting humanitarian assistance and peace in Yemen, and explained how the conflict benefits both al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) and Iran.

The Cato Institute’s Trevor Thrall wrote that if the Senate votes down the resolution, the arms deal “will deepen US complicity in Saudi Arabia’s inhumane war in Yemen.” Thrall warned that the arms sale would benefit AQAP and risk an arms race between Saudi Arabia, Israel, and Iran.

POLITICO reported that support for the resolution of disapproval is growing in the US Senate.

An article in The Economist analyzed the effectiveness of the Emirati campaign against AQAP, concluding that Emirati forces have made notable progress but that they are far from fully defeating the group.

Asharq al-Awsat reported on Saudi-led coalition air raids on San’a and Hajjah targeting Houthi warehouses. It did not report any casualties.

Al Masdar reported on a Yemeni Journalist Syndicate statement that 624 violations of freedom of the press have been recorded in Yemen in the past two and a half years.

Friday, June 9

The Associated Press reported that a Saudi-led coalition airstrike on three houses in the Yemeni capital city of San’a killed four civilians. The civilians were three siblings of ages 12, 7, and 3, and their grandmother.

Several NGOs, including Amnesty International and Reporters Without Borders, released a joint public statement urging the release of journalists detained by the Houthis.

The Bureau of Investigative Journalism reported on accusations that combatants under the direction of the United Arab Emirates, a prominent member of the Saudi-led coalition, have forcibly disappeared hundreds of Yemeni victims.

Yemen Peace Project Director of Policy and Advocacy Kate Kizer and Defense Priorities Fellow Daniel DePetris wrote in Defense One that US-backed plans to escalate the war in Yemen will increase the humanitarian toll and give AQAP and Iran more opportunities to expand their influence.

Al Masdar reported three people killed in a Lahj tribal conflict.

Al Masdar reported that Houthi forces have released journalist Taysir Alsami’l after 5 months.

Defense News published an article examining which companies benefit most from a proposed US-Saudi arms deal, determining that “the big winner” is Lockheed Martin.

Saturday, June 10

Asharq Al-Awsat reported that the King Salman Relief Center has sent a shipment of aid to treat cholera patients in Yemen. The Center has been criticized for selectively sending aid to areas nominally controlled by the government of President Hadi, and restricting funds to organizations that work in Houthi-controlled areas.

Sunday, June 11

Al Arabiya reported that militias supportive of the Houthis and Ali Abdullah Saleh abducted some 1,500 people between the beginning of 2017 and May, including 42 children and 33 women. According to the report, among those abducted included 318 activists, 170 politicians, and 698 workers.

Al Masdar reported that Sudan, a member of the Saudi-led coalition, plans to send an additional contingent of soldiers to Yemen after Sudanese forces suffered significant casualties in western Yemen.

Monday, June 12

Reuters reported on a suspected AQAP attack on an army camp in Hadhramawt. The attack, which began with a pair of car bombs detonated outside the camp, left 10 AQAP militants and two soldiers dead.

Al Arabiya reported that pro-Hadi forces are advancing in Ta’iz, and that they have captured the local presidential palace.

Anadolu Agency reported that pro-Hadi forces have advanced in territories east of San’a over the past several days. Dozens have been killed in clashes as soldiers captured Houthi positions in the Nahm directorate. 

Anadolu Agency reported that Yemen’s cholera epidemic has now taken at least 923 lives. The World Health Organization’s Yemen office also announced, according to the report, that the number of suspected cholera cases has reached 124,000.

The Associated Press wrote that the Combined Maritime Forces based in Bahrain will increase patrols off the coast of Yemen in the wake of attacks by Somali pirates and possibly also Houthi militiamen. 

The Huffington Post reported that Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) has declared his support for the resolution of disapproval of the US-Saudi arms deal, citing both humanitarian and security concerns.