May 1-9: KSA bombs Sa'dah as negotiations stagger on

During the last week, the unceasing war and the dire humanitarian situation in Yemen have continued to dominate the local press coverage. Earlier in the week the Saudi-led Arab coalition continued the second phase of its aerial bombardment in what was dubbed Operation Restoration of Hope. On Friday, Saudi Arabia declared all of Saʻdah Governorate—the heartland of the Houthi movement—a “a military target” in retaliation for Houthi attacks on Najran, across the Saudi border. Saʻdah was shelled heavily, and its telecommunications center, which was among several targets in the province, was destroyed.

Earlier in the same province, airstrikes hit residential areas, killing at least 34 people and wounding a dozen others. While the Saudis continue to bomb the Houthis in Saʻdah, Saudi officials also announced their intent to declare a humanitarian ceasefire on May 12, pending the agreement of the Houthi-Saleh forces.

Last Saturday it was reported that a meeting will be held in Riyadh on May 15, which will include all Yemeni political factions excluding the Houthis. On Thursday, the newly appointed UN envoy, Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed, arrived in Riyadh to resume political efforts as established by the GCC Initiative and the NDC outcomes.

It’s been more than six weeks now since the Saudi-led aerial campaign was launched, during which civil conflict has intensified in several areas across the country. More than 1,400 people have been killed so far and thousands of others injured, while nearly 15,000 Yemenis have fled by boats to Djibouti and Somalia as refuges.

While officials in President Hadi’s government in exile keep raising their demands for ground troops from the Saudi coalition, local fighters in Aden, Taʻiz, Marib, and elsewhere continue to fend off the pro-Houthi/Saleh forces with occasional resupply airdrops from the Saudis. Moreover, another front in al-Jawf province, which borders both Saudi Arabia and Marib, has reportedly re-opened. At least seven Houthis were reportedly killed there in recent fighting.