July 20-26: Houthis and coalition trade airstrikes, offshore oil tanker threatens to spill

Saturday, July 20

San’a was rocked by several powerful explosions following air raids by the Saudi-led coalition on Saturday. The strikes ostensibly targeted Houthi air defenses and ballistic missile sites. On the same day, the Houthis claimed to have carried out drone attacks on military targets at King Khalid Air Base in southwestern Saudi Arabia. According to Houthi spokesman Yahya Sarei, the drone attacks targeted radar installations and military positions at the air base near the city of Khamis Mushait. There was no comment from the Saudi-UAE coalition on the rebel claim.

An article from al-Masdar Online reports on the arrest, disappearance, and torture of Yemeni teachers by the Houthis in areas under their control. According to the report, over 300 teachers have disappeared or been arrested since the beginning of the conflict in 2014, while around 20,000 have been displaced. Those who remain in Houthi-controlled areas, meanwhile, have gone over three years without salaries.

Sunday, July 21

An explosion today in northern Aden left citizens’ cars and homes damaged, reports al-Masdar Online.

Monday, July 22

In an opinion piece published on Monday in The Washington Post, the UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash stated that the UAE is not leaving Yemen, despite an ongoing withdrawal and redeployment of Emirati forces. "Just to be clear, the UAE and the rest of the coalition are not leaving Yemen...while we will operate differently, our military presence will remain." Gargash said Houthis should see the UAE move as a "confidence-building measure to create new momentum to end the conflict.”

Tuesday, July 23

UN envoy Martin Griffiths told reporters in Geneva on Tuesday that the war in Yemen is "eminently resolvable." Griffiths said that while the Stockholm agreement was taking some time to be implemented, both sides saw it as a gateway to opening up negotiations on a political solution, and the international community supported the deal.

The Saudi-led coalition announced its interception of an unspecified number of aircraft involved in a “large-scale attack” launched by the Houthis today, reportedly aimed at civilian targets.

Aden al-Ghad reports that clashes in the province of Ibb have resulted in several deaths and injuries. The article states that the recent confrontations in the Houthi-controlled area have arisen from tribal disputes over a local water project. 

Wednesday, July 24

CNBC reported Wednesday that an abandoned and decaying oil tanker near the coast of Yemen could soon rupture or explode. The UN has warned that it could potentially trigger one of the world’s largest oil spills. The deserted Safer FSO tanker, which is believed to contain approximately 1.14 million barrels of oil, has been anchored and left without maintenance off the Yemeni coast of Al Hudaydah since early 2015. Following years of inertia in a salty and corrosive maritime environment, volatile gases have built up in the storage tanks — increasing the risk of an explosion.

President Trump vetoed a series of bipartisan measures on Wednesday that would have blocked the sale of billions of dollars of arms to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, his second veto to turn back congressional action condemning his administration’s relationship with Saudi Arabia. He later wrote, “the United States is very concerned about the conflict’s toll on innocent civilians and is working to bring the conflict in Yemen to an end. But we cannot end it through ill-conceived and time-consuming resolutions that fail to address its root causes.” 

Representative Eliot Engel, chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee, stated "the President’s veto sends a grim message that America’s foreign policy is no longer rooted in our core values — namely a respect for human rights."

Renewed fighting broke out between Houthi militias and coalition-backed in the streets of Hudaydah on Tuesday evening, reports Aden al-Ghad. 

Al-Masdar Online reports the arrival of Saudi forces to Aden in the wake of the recently announced Emirati withdrawal of troops. 

Thursday, July 25

Sudanese forces fighting in Yemen as part of the Arab Coalition have not withdrawn from positions around the port of Hudaydah, the spokesman for the joint forces in the city told The National. Sudan has contributed troops to the Arab coalition since it first intervened in 2015. “What has been happening is a matter of redeployment for the Sudanese forces in some positions in Hudaydah, according to the new plans set by the new leadership for the joint forces fighting the Houthi rebels in Hudaydah,” said Col. Al Dubaish

The UN reported on Thursday that nearly 9 million people across Yemen have been reached with emergency cash assistance in the fifth payment cycle by UNICEF's Emergency Cash Transfer Project. The project is funded by the World Bank through the International Development Association.

Pro-government Twitter account Yemen Now states that a Houthi prisoner died under torture in Hudaydah after being kidnapped and robbed. 

Al-Masdar Online reports that for the second time in under a year, unidentified gunmen have assassinated an Islah Party leader in the city of al-Dhali’.