June 9–15: Geneva talks start without Houthis; Aden refinery shelled; airstrikes continue

As Yemen’s war continues, media coverage over the last week focused on UN-sponsored negotiations, originally set to begin on Sunday. The three-day talks in Geneva, billed as “preliminary inclusive consultations,” which aim at ending the months-long war in Yemen, began on Monday, June 15, following week-long quibbles over the representation and the mechanism for talks. But the talks were inaugurated with only delegates of the exiled government in Riyadh in attendance, while the Yemeni delegates from Sanʻa—representing the Houthi movement and its allies—were stranded in Djibouti for nearly 24 hours. The talks were supposed to start Sunday, but were postponed after the delegates did not board the UN airplane at the Sanʻa International Airport on Friday.

Although the talks between the conflicting political parties were delayed, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon has already called for an immediate two-week ceasefire during the holy month of Ramadan, which is expected to begin on Thursday.

Over the past week, Saudi warplanes conducted airstrikes in at least 12 cities including the capital, Sanʻa, where both residential areas and pro-Houthi/Saleh figures were targeted.

On Friday, a neighborhood in the Old City of Sanʻa—a UNESCO World Heritage Site—was hit by airstrikes, flatting at least five houses and killing seven civilians. On Saturday, the home of former special forces commander Yahyah Mohammed Abdullah Saleh was hit along with other nearby houses of his relatives. Strikes continued past the official start of the Geneva talks; Sanʻa was reportedly struck by several airstrikes on Monday.

In cities where the civil conflict is intensifying, the Saudi-led airstrikes continue to provide air cover for the so-called “Popular Resistance.”

In the eastern city of Marib, two main tribal encampments, Nakhla and Suhail, were captured by the pro-Houthi/Saleh forces. In the neighboring Jawf province, these forces also captured the provincial city, Hazm, after weeks of heavy clashes. In southern city of Aden, the oil refinery was forced to halt operations, while fierce clashes took place in Maʻalla and Buraiqah areas. The central city of Taʻiz has seen the fiercest clashes in two months as mortar and tank shells have reportedly hit several downtown residential areas.