December 5-11: US calls for Hadi government to accept peace deal, Oxfam warns of increasing food crisis

Monday, December 5Yemeni officials say that al-Qaeda has blown up Yemen’s only gas export line, which was located in Shabwa province and delivered gas from Marib to a port on the Arabian Sea.

Tuesday, December 6 The Joint Group to Assess Incidents, formed by Saudi Arabia, has called on the coalition to apologize for August's attack on an MSF hospital that killed 11 people. However, a number of other Saudi-led airstrikes that human rights organizations say unlawfully targeted civilians were excused by the investigative body.

The investigators wrote, "The coalition forces must extend an apology for this unintentional mistake and provide the proper assistance to the families with affected persons."

An anonymous San’a resident and volunteer for Your Ability Organization writes for the Guardian about circumstances in the capital, including a heartbreaking story of two siblings with cancer, one of whom died because she could not travel outside of the country for treatment.

“The siege of Yemen has taken our country back of hundreds of years. Most of the country is out of work and there are shortages of electricity, gas, food and water. For almost 600 days children have gone to bed, every single night, fearing the sound of airplanes.”

A pointed article in the Independent unpacks the UK’s relationship with Gulf states including Bahrain and Saudi Arabia. According to the author, Britain’s involvement in the war in Yemen displays the country’s “blatant immorality, narrow self-interest, blithe deceitfulness and stomach-churning hypocrisy...The list of Saudi war crimes is long and well-chronicled, and our government’s role has been to do whatever it can to keep them as hidden as possible.”

Saida Ahmad Baghili, the eighteen-year-old whose emaciated body became a widely circulated image of Yemen’s suffering, has been photographed again after weeks of treatment for severe malnutrition. This time she is smiling and able to eat, but still extremely thin.

A ship traveling from al-Mukalla carrying 64 people, including children, capsized en route to Soqotra. Thirty-five were rescued while a search for the remaining passengers continued, according to fisheries minister Fahad Kaffen.

Yemen’s exiled government has rejected a UN roadmap that would require Hadi to cede power and the Houthis to withdraw from major cities, saying that such an agreement would set a “dangerous international precedent” and “legitimize the Houthi rebellion.”

An article in the BBC outlines the dire situation in Yemen, with stories of sick children with no access to medical care and the fifty percent of hospitals in the country that have been forced to close.

"The politics of the situation has overcome the humanity," Jamie McGoldrick, Yemen’s senior UN official in the country told the BBC.

"The humanity doesn't work anymore here. The world has turned a blind eye to what's happening in Yemen... right now we are so under-resourced for this crisis, it's extraordinary."

Meanwhile, Oxfam warns that Yemen is only a few months away from running out of food, as imports have already fallen below half the level needed to feed the country and continue to decline.

Wednesday, December 7 US State Department Deputy Spokesperson Mark Toner says the department is “disappointed by the Republic of Yemen Government’s reaction to the UN-drafted roadmap,” saying that it is “a solid framework for the government’s goal of ending the conflict and returning security and stability to Yemen, a goal that should be supported by all.”

The US has imposed sanctions on two Yemeni men, Al-Hasan Ali Ali Abkar and Abdallah Faysal Sadiq al-Ahdal, and the Yemeni Rahmah Charitable Organization due to claims that they are supporting AQAP.

John Smith, acting director of the Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control, says that the two men have supplied weapons, managed foreign AQAP fighters, and raised funds for the organization under the cover of the charity.

Thursday, December 8 Human Rights Watch reports that US-made bombs have been used in at least two of the coalition’s unlawful airstrikes between September and October. The organization also reports that the US delivered a bomb to Saudi Arabia well after the conflict began, further implicating the US in the coalition’s war crimes.

The two airstrikes that were found to be carried out using US weapons targeted al-Zaydiya security administration building north of al-Hudayda, killing 100, most of whom were detainees. The other was a September airstrike on Souq al-Hinood, also in al-Hudaydah, which killed at least 28 civilians.

Following UK foreign minister Boris Johnson’s statement last week that Saudi Arabia had not crossed any threshold in its bombardment of Yemen, footage has now been released showing the minister saying that Saudi Arabia is engaging in proxy wars in the Middle East. The Prime Minister’s spokeswoman says, however, that these are Johnson’s “personal views” on the conflict and do not represent the government’s position.

The release of the footage comes as Prime Minister Theresa May returns from a trip to Bahrain to meet with Gulf leaders, including Saudi King Salman. Johnson stuck by his remarks after calls for him to apologize.

Michael Seawright, who served as project coordinator for Doctors Without Borders in the Middle East, describes his experience in Yemen to PBS, saying that he has “never seen such destruction conducted in such a short period as in Yemen.”

Friday, December 9 Boris Johnson comments again on the situation in Yemen, this time expressing his “profound concern” for the country.

"I think we can all agree on at least this key point, that force alone will not bring about a stable Yemen. That’s why we in London have been working so hard with all our partners to drive that political process forwards.”

Defense secretary Michael Fallon later said that Johnson’s comments had simply been misreported in the media.

“Let’s be very clear about this. The way some of his remarks were reported seemed to imply that we didn’t support the right of Saudi Arabia to defend itself ... and didn’t support what Saudi Arabia is doing in leading the campaign to restore the legitimate government of Yemen...The [UK] government’s view is absolutely clear – that what Saudi Arabia is entitled to do is defend itself from these attacks across its own border,” Fallon added.

A BBC article views Yemen’s war from the perspective of Saudi citizens living in the border town of Najran, which has been hit repeatedly by Houthi missiles.

“Saudi officials say more than 500 of their citizens have been killed by the Yemen war, a number dwarfed by the thousands killed in Yemen itself, but still a shock for this otherwise tranquil kingdom…”

A must-read piece in the Guardian this week describes journalist Ghaith Abdul-Ahad’s visit to Sa’dah, where coalition airstrikes have destroyed markets and buildings, and killed countless civilians, forever changing the city.

Abdullah al-Ebi, a resident of Sa’dah, lost 27 members of his family last year to a coalition bombing that targeted their home, leaving only him, his two brothers, and his father.

“I really can’t remember – thoughts attack me all the time. I wake in the night and look for them, then I remember and weep...We had just finished dinner when the first rocket hit the corner of the house. There was darkness and screaming...Everything is over now. No one came to us. No one offered to help us. Our families were killed and we were left alone.”

Saturday, December 10 More than 40 people were killed and dozens more wounded when a suicide bomber targeted Yemeni soldiers at a military base in Aden. The Islamic State group has claimed responsibility for the attack, which took place when the soldiers were queuing to collect their salaries.

The Economist reports on changes in Saudi Arabia’s economy and foreign policy in the past year, including the implications of its catastrophic war in Yemen that appears impossible for the kingdom to win.

“Yemen will be Saudi Arabia’s Vietnam,” says one Iranian official. “It is bleeding the Saudis’ military and diplomatic prestige.”

Sunday, December 11 The Washington Post reports on an unexpected outcome of the war in Yemen--a balance of responsibilities and household chores among certain families where women are now working jobs that were previously considered in the male domain.

“I feel the war has changed my personality,” said Ayde Ahmed Shabon, 33, her voice soft but clear. “I feel equal to the man now.”

The war has undoubtedly made life more difficult for everyone (including increased cases of child marriage and domestic abuse), but there may be hope that Yemeni women living in rural areas will come out of the war with more responsibilities outside the home.