July 11-17: Peace talks resume despite Hadi's threats to boycott

Monday, July 11The Sana’a Center for Strategic Studies released a report outlining the accomplishments and setbacks of the UN-sponsored peace talks in Kuwait. Although progress at the talks has been slow, some important steps have been taken to end hostilities including prisoner exchanges, the facilitation of commercial imports, and working towards building confidence between the warring sides.

The report was released while the parties to the talks were on break for Eid al-Fitr. The negotiations resumed on Saturday, but were preceded with threats by Hadi’s government to boycott the talks due to a lack of progress.

A report by Human Rights Watch documents seventeen airstrikes carried out by the Saudi-led coalition on factories, warehouses, and other civilian economic infrastructures. The strikes, which killed 130 civilians, injured many more, and left hundreds unemployed, likely amount to war crimes. Human Rights Watch is calling for the removal of Saudi Arabia from the UN Human Rights Council and demands that the coalition agree to an independent international inquiry into these and other unlawful attacks.

Tuesday, July 12 Yemen’s Deputy Prime Minister Abdul Malik al-Mekhlafi said that Hadi’s government will not return to negotiations with the Houthi delegation without “guarantees,” a timetable, and an acceptance of Hadi’s “legitimacy” as president.

Wednesday, July 13 The Guardian’s Owen Jones speaks to Yemeni refugees about the horrors they faced during the war, and questions Sir Alan Duncan, the UK's envoy to Yemen, about the UK's relationship with Saudi Arabia, including banned cluster bombs produced in the UK that have been found to be used by the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen.

UN Envoy Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed arrived in San’a to meet with Houthi and Saleh representatives in preparation for the resumption of talks in Kuwait following a two-week hiatus. Forty-four people were reportedly killed in clashes and airstrikes in the 24 hours leading up to the envoy’s visit.

The Popular Resistance in Ta’iz is seeking donations from the public to pay the salaries of their fighters who are battling the Houthis.

The Popular Resistance controls central Ta’iz as well as some rural areas but the Houthis still maintain control over the main entrances of the city and have imposed a crippling siege on it since last August.

One volunteer with the resistance who has been going door-to-door to collect donations told Middle East Eye that "It has become clear that the Yemeni government and the coalition countries have betrayed Ta’iz, so residents have to support the Resistance fighters, who are fighting for the sake of Ta’iz to protect our province from the invaders who came from Saada," referring to the Houthis.

Thursday, July 14 UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon asked Saudi Arabia to provide information on actions the coalition is taking to prevent the killing and wounding of children in Yemen. Riyadh said it was conducting its military operations with "great care,” but last month’s UN report on children in conflict accused Saudi Arabia of being the group responsible for the most child deaths in Yemen. The kingdom was quickly removed from the list due to threats by Saudi officials to withdraw funding from UN-sponsored aid programs.

Many Yemenis are facing famine due to a shortage of food imports. Western banks have cut credit lines for traders importing food to Yemen out of fear that their loans will go unpaid because of Yemen’s fragile economic state. Approximately $260 million of funds are frozen due to civil war disruption.

Houthi delegates traveled to Kuwait to resume talks after a two week break for Eid al-Fitr. Al-Arabiya reports that the talks between the two sides will resume on Saturday, but Hadi’s government has threatened to boycott the talks if there are no “guarantees” or a timetable. His government demands that UN resolution 2216, which requires the Houthis to give up arms and withdraw from seized territory, be implemented before a government is formed. The Houthis are demanding a share of power in a new government, but Hadi recently said during his trip to Marib that he will not allow the United Nations to implement decisions that would form a coalition government, adding that he will not return to Kuwait if the UN issued such a decision.

Friday, July 15 According to US Army General Joseph Votel, who oversees the small group of American troops in Yemen, the US is contemplating increased military presence in the country to fight al-Qaeda. The few American troops currently in Yemen provided intelligence to the coalition, particularly the UAE, to help push AQAP out of Mukalla earlier this year.

"If we can continue to better understand what al-Qaeda's doing, regain the situational awareness that we lost when we all had to depart Yemen here some time ago, that's what I'm interested in doing," Votel said.

Despite years of US drone strikes on al-Qaeda members and leaders in Yemen, the group has managed to thrive, gaining territory and earning tens of millions of dollars by taking advantage of the security vacuum created by the ongoing war.

A suicide car bomb in Aden’s Inmaa district targeted the convoy of Governor Aidrus al-Zubaydi and police chief Shalal Ali Shayae. Both escaped unharmed. Zubaydi and Shayae have survived a number of previous assassination attempts.

Medecins Sans Frontieres reports that civilians are dying even in non-combat zones in Yemen due to the country’s crumbling health system and lack of medical supplies. Before the war erupted in March 2015, Yemen relied heavily on imported medical supplies and foreign doctors, many of whom have now fled. Yemenis who suffer from treatable conditions such as asthma, hypertension, and diabetes may die from lack of care.

Saturday, July 16 Peace talks resumed in Kuwait despite earlier threats by Hadi’s government to boycott the negotiations. UN Envoy Ould Cheikh Ahmed told the warring parties that, ““The time has come for you to take definitive decisions that demonstrate to the Yemeni people the sincerity of your intentions and your national obligations.” The envoy noted that the negotiations will continue for two weeks and will be centered around Security Resolution 2216, the Gulf Initiative, and the outcomes of the National Dialogue Conference.

Al-Qaeda claimed responsibility for Friday’s car bombing that unsuccessfully targeted Aden’s governor and police chief.