August 29-September 4: Death toll updated to 10,000; Houthi delegation visits Iraq

Monday, August 29A car bomb struck a military facility in Aden’s Mansourah district, killing at least 60 people and injuring dozens more. The attack, claimed by the Islamic State group, targeted conscripts of the Popular Resistance.

UN Humanitarian Coordinator in Yemen Jamie McGoldrick released a statement expressing his concern for the devastating impact the recent surge in fighting is having on Yemeni civilians. McGoldrick reports that seven people were confirmed dead following Friday’s Saudi airstrike on a market in Baqim in Sa’dah province, while attacks from Yemen across the Saudi border have “caused an unconfirmed number of civilian casualties.”

“In addition to fighting and insecurity, the continued closure of Sana’a airport to commercial flights is having serious implications for patients seeking urgent medical treatment abroad, given the inability of the national health system to treat all medical cases...Initial statistics from the national airline indicate that thousands of people cannot leave while many others remain stranded outside of Yemen…”

A Houthi delegation arrived in Baghdad to meet with Iraq’s foreign minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari. The purpose of the delegation’s visit was to push for the recognition of their recently-formed governing council while also updating al-Jaafari on the latest developments in Yemen’s conflict and peace talks.

Tuesday, August 30 UN Humanitarian Coordinator Jamie McGoldrick told a news conference in San’a that 10,000 people have been killed in Yemen since the war began 18 months ago. The updated death toll, which is significantly higher than the 6,000 figure that is frequently cited, is based on official information from medical facilities in Yemen. McGoldrick provided no breakdown of the number of civilian deaths, which has previously been reported at 3,800.

Amnesty International is condemning Obama’s unprecedented arms deals with Middle Eastern governments that routinely violate humanitarian law. US weapons sales to Saudi Arabia since Obama took office in 2009 amount to $110 billion.

“One of the unspoken legacies of the Obama administration is the extraordinary uptake in the amount of U.S. weapons and military aid that are provided to major U.S. allies like Saudi Arabia, Israel and Egypt that have terrible records when it comes to human rights,” Sunjeev Bery, advocacy director for Middle East and North Africa issues at Amnesty International USA, told Salon.

Wednesday, August 31 An imam living in Sa’dah was killed along with 16 members of his extended family during a Saudi airstrike on his home, according to a Reuters witness, a medic, and a resident.

“‘The air raid happened in the morning and because the house was made of mud, it took us until noon to be able to dig the bodies out,’ said Nayef, a resident who helped remove the rubble to recover the bodies.”

The Saudi military spokesman says that the coalition was checking if the report is true, and will conduct an investigation if the incident is verified.

UN Special Envoy to Yemen Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed said that a recent military escalation following the collapse of the peace talks is fueling the spread of al-Qaeda and the Islamic State group in the country. The envoy says that a renewed cessation of hostilities is needed to return to negotiations and end the war.

The last US manufacturer of cluster munitions, Textron, announced that it has ceased production of the widely-banned weapon, following a White House order last May to stop the shipment of CBU-105 (cluster bombs)  to Saudi Arabia. The blocking of the sale was at least partly due to pressure from human rights groups that have documented Yemen’s civilian casualties caused by cluster bombs.

Textron spokesman Matthew Colpitts told Foreign Policy that the decision to end production was “due to the current regulatory challenges and in light of reduced product orders.” The company also said that, “The current political environment has made it difficult to obtain...approvals."

Thursday, September 1 The seventh annual Cluster Munition Monitor report outlines the usage of cluster bombs in Yemen (p. 24 of report), Syria, and other conflict zones.

“HRW and Amnesty International have documented evidence of at least 19 cluster munition attacks in the conflict involving the use of seven types of air-delivered and ground-launched cluster munitions produced in three countries...None of the states participating in the Saudi Arabia-led coalition—Bahrain, Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait, Morocco, Pakistan, Qatar, Sudan, UAE—are party to the Convention (banning) Cluster Munitions.”

Friday, September 2 In an interview with a Houthi-run quarterly magazine, Abdel-Malek al-Houthi, the leader of the rebel group, accused the United States of providing logistical support and political cover for Saudi-led air strikes on Yemen.

Al-Houthi also told the Houthi-run magazine that his group was open to a peaceful solution.

"The hurdle facing negotiations and dialogue is that the other party wants to achieve through the talks what it wanted to achieve through war, not understanding that the path of dialogue and peace is different to the path of war," he said.

Sunday, September 4 Saudi Arabia’s civil defense agency says that cross-border shelling from Yemen killed a woman and injured two other civilians. Attacks from Yemen on Saudi Arabia’s border, along with airstrikes in Yemen carried out by the Saudi-led coalition, have intensified since peace talks were suspended in early August.