August 1-7: Kuwait talks adjourned, confidential UN report leaked

Monday, August 1A 16th-century Ta’iz mosque housing a shrine to Sufi scholar Sheikh Abdulhadi al-Sudi was blown up by Islamist extremists, according to a local official who spoke to AFP. Yemen’s commission for antiquities and museums said that the mosque was one of Ta’iz’s most beautiful.

Torrential rains struck Yemen last week, killing eight in San’a’s suburbs, flooding streets and crops, and damaging property.

Negotiators from Hadi’s government in the Kuwait talks announced they were leaving after Houthi delegates refused to sign a UN-proposed deal that would require the Houthis to withdraw from seized territory and hand in their weapons before reconvening to form a government that would ostensibly include the Houthis.

Foreign Minister Abdel-Malek al-Mekhlafi said that the government delegation was not abandoning the talks, but was simply leaving Kuwait until the Houthi delegation signed onto the initiative.

The United Nations World Food Programme reports a nearly five-fold increase in the number of Yemenis (approximately 600,000) to whom it has provided assistance since this February, especially in hard-to-reach areas such as Ta’iz. The increase of aid provisions is thanks to a locally driven voucher initiative, the Commodity-Voucher through Traders’ Network (CV-TN) project, which allows WFP to supply food commodities to families through a contracted local retailer in exchange for vouchers.

Tuesday, August 2 UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon announced that Saudi Arabia will not be returned to the blacklist it was previously included on for violating children’s rights in Yemen. The removal in June was said to be temporary as a joint panel reviewed the accusations, but Saudi Arabia was taken off the list due to threats to cut funding to UN humanitarian programs.

The US Department of State’s Central Command announced two additional airstrikes in Yemen targeting al-Qaeda operatives. A July 8 strike reportedly killed one militant and a July 16 strike killed six more and injured one. Centcom claims that these airstrikes “continue to diminish AQAP’s presence in the region,” but AQAP in Yemen has managed to expand its territory and increase its income in recent years.

Wednesday, August 3 New UN figures indicate that approximately 370,000 children in Yemen are facing starvation and more than 14 million people, or half of Yemen’s population, are in urgent need of food and medical aid. This is a 50% increase from a year ago due to the ongoing 15-month-long war.

Thursday, August 4 A Saudi-led investigation into alleged war crimes committed by the coalition the kingdom is leading in Yemen predictably concluded that air strikes on markets and clinics, which resulted in high civilian death tolls, were largely in line with international law.

Measures taken by the coalition forces were sound and conformed to the rules and laws of the Geneva Accords," said Mansour bin Ahmed Mansour, spokesman for the investigative body. Mr. Mansour admits that there were a few shortcomings and instances where the coalition lacked proper intelligence.

A confidential UN report has concluded that all parties in Yemen’s conflict have violated international humanitarian law. Within the six-month period covered in the report, Houthi fighters were found to have used civilians as shields to avoid attacks while the Saudi-led coalition deliberately bombed a civilian house, killing four children.

Friday, August 5 The Norwegian Refugee Council released a statement to mark 500 days since the escalation of Yemen’s crisis and start of the Saudi-led intervention. During these 500 days, 6,500 civilians have been killed and 32,000 injured, while eight out of 10 Yemenis are in need of humanitarian aid, which is often inaccessible due to blockades imposed by both the Houthis and the Saudi coalition.

“Despite the staggering figures of ordinary Yemenis suffering because of the raging conflict, the outside world has kept its eyes shut to this crisis,” said NRC’s Country Director in Yemen, Syma Jamil. “The situation for Yemenis keeps deteriorating and it is now untenable. Yemenis won’t be able to cope for much longer.”

Saturday, August 6 The Houthis and the GPC announced that they are pushing forward with a ten-member council to govern Yemen, a move that is denounced by UN envoy to Yemen Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed. The initiative is said to violate UN Security Council resolutions, but the Houthis claim that they will still participate in the Kuwait negotiations.

The negotiations, however, are adjourned for a month and are likely to resume in a different location. UN Special Envoy to Yemen Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed said that, although the Kuwait talks have finished without a breakthrough, negotiations will continue. Ould Cheikh Ahmed stated that all parties are committed to reaching an agreement, but the envoy criticised the Houthis’ and Saleh’s move to form a ruling council to govern Yemen.

Yemen's government asked international financial institutions to prevent officials from the Central Bank of Yemen from accessing state funds held in overseas banks, according to state-run The move comes after Prime Minister Ahmed bin Daghr claimed to have received information that central bank officials were tapping Yemen’s foreign reserves held in European and American banks.

Sunday, August 7 Residents in the provinces of San’a, Ta’iz, Sa’dah, al-Jawf, and Hajjah report 30 airstrikes by the Saudi-led coalition on Sunday alone. There were no civilian casualties reported, but 40 fighters from both sides were said to be killed north of San’a.