October 24-30: Proposed peace deal rejected by Hadi, coalition targets Hudaydah prison

Monday, October 24Jordan’s Prime Minister Hani Mulki met with his Yemeni counterpart Ahmed bin Daghr in Amman to reassert his country’s support for “legitimacy in Yemen and efforts exerted to restore its stability and security.” Mulki also affirmed his support for a political solution to Yemen’s crisis.

New street art in San’a depicts the horrors of Yemen’s war and humanitarian crisis. One of the participating artists, Thi Yazan al-Alawi said, "We came up with this campaign because of the internal and external wars in Yemen, the economic crisis, all of these factors led to famine and poverty in Yemen.”

Tuesday, October 25 Saudi ambassador to the UK Mohammed bin Nawaf bin Abdulaziz wrote in The Daily Telegraph to say that there had been “an alarming change in the way Saudi Arabia is discussed in Britain” in the last few weeks.

The ambassador is referring to a recent move by Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn to cancel a £5.9 million prison consultancy contract with Saudi Arabia, due to concerns over human rights violations within the kingdom. Corbyn has also voiced objections of Saudi Arabia’s campaign in Yemen.

Mr. Abdulaziz added, “If the extensive trade links between the two countries are going to be subordinate to certain political ideologies, then this vital commercial exchange is going to be at risk. We want this relationship to continue but we will not be lectured to by anyone.”

UN Special Envoy to Yemen Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed submitted a proposal for a peace plan to both parties. The plan stipulates that exiled president Hadi would be stripped of his authority and Houthi forces would need to withdraw from major cities.

“According to [a] Houthi-affiliated politician, the peace plan also includes transferring the powers of the internationally-recognized president to a new prime minister and a vice president, in addition to the formation of a national unity government, while easing out Houthis from cities under their control. The deal also suggests the formation of a team of international observers to supervise the militias’ withdrawal. It proposes a one to two-year-transitional period paving the way for presidential elections.”

General Joseph Votel, head of US Central Command, travelled to Riyadh to meet one-on-one with members of the House of Saud in an attempt to repair recent damage done to US-Saudi diplomatic relations.

Simon Henderson, a fellow at the Washington Institute on Near East Policy, says “The administration — the White House — is thoroughly fed up” with the Saudi government. Similarly, “The Saudis want to see the back side of the Obama administration. They don’t mind too much whether it’s Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump, as long as it’s no longer Obama.”

Shocking photos of a starving and emaciated 18-year-old from al-Hudaydah were circulated this week, illustrating the desperate situation in Yemen’s port city and other parts of the country that are facing a severe shortage of food and medicine due to blockades imposed by both the Saudi-led coalition and Houthi forces.

Shipping group Teekay said one of its gas tankers "experienced a suspected piracy attack whilst off the coast of Yemen" near the Bab al-Mandeb Strait on Tuesday. None of the unknown assailants managed to board the vessel, which departed the strait safely.

British maritime security firm MAST said the assailants approached the tanker in a small boat and fired a rocket propelled grenade. MAST added that it is “unclear whether this is a terrorist attack or piracy.”

Wednesday, October 26 New York Magazine reports on some disturbing proposals made by Hillary Clinton’s national security advisor Michael Morell, who said that he “would have no problem from a policy perspective of having the U.S. Navy boarding [Iranian] ships, and if there are weapons on them, to turn those ships around,” referring to the reported weapons shipments to the Houthis.

As the article points out, forcibly boarding another nation’s vessels in international waters amounts to an act of war, which would likely drag the US further into the war in Yemen on the side of Saudi Arabia.

A call by the UK’s Labour party to withdraw support from the Saudi-led coalition failed to pass, after about half of the party, or 100 parliamentarians, abstained from voting. This resulted in a 283-193 vote rejecting the call to suspend arms sales to Saudi Arabia until an independent UN investigation into war crimes in Yemen was completed.

An article in Al-Monitor explores Turkey’s policies and positions relating to Yemen and how they have evolved since Saleh was ousted in 2012.

Thursday, October 27 Commander of US Naval Forces Central Command Kevin Donegan told NBC news that the US military believes Iran has supplied weapons to the Houthis, including coastal defense cruise missiles like the ones used in attempted attacks on a US vessel earlier this month. Donegan disclosed that the US and partner nations have intercepted five weapons shipments from Iran that were headed to the Houthis in Yemen.

Emily Thornberry, UK shadow foreign secretary, says she is disappointed with members of her party for abstaining from Wednesday’s vote, and disgusted with the Conservatives who voted against withdrawing support for Saudi Arabia.

“Yesterday’s motion gave us the opportunity to send the opposite message to the world … that, while Saudi Arabia will remain a valued strategic, security and economic ally in the years to come, our support for their forces in Yemen must be suspended until the alleged violations of international humanitarian law in that conflict have been fully and independently investigated. And until the children of Yemen have received the humanitarian aid that they so desperately need,”

Friday, October 28 Saudi Arabia accused Houthi forces of targeting the holy city of Mecca with a ballistic missile fired over Yemen’s border. The Saudi military claims to have intercepted the missile 65km from Mecca.

Houthi leadership strongly denies the accusation, saying that the Saudis are spreading propaganda to incite Muslims against the Houthis and to distract from their own crimes committed against the Yemeni people.

The UN World Food Programme (WFP) fears that hunger will take a devastating toll on Yemen. The organization says it has provided food for more than 3 million people each month since February but is beginning to split these depleted rations so it can reach 6 million people every month.

"An entire generation could be crippled by hunger," says Torben Due, the program's director in Yemen.

According to the WFP, almost half of all children in Yemen are stunted, a sign of chronic malnutrition.

The Huffington Post interviews US officials, congressmen, and activists to assess Obama’s policy in Yemen following claims by his administration that the US would be reviewing its support of the Saudi-led coalition.

The International Office for Migration, affiliated with the UN, is launching an appeal for $150 million of urgent assistance for Yemenis in need of food, clean water, and medicine.

Saturday, October 29 A coalition airstrike hit a home in southwestern Ta’iz’s al-Salw district, killing 17 civilians, according to local officials and residents.

Exiled president Hadi met with UN Envoy Ould Cheikh Ahmed in Riyadh, but refused to even receive the envoy’s proposed peace deal. The plan would reportedly require Hadi to resign and set up a government of less divisive figures.

"The ideas presented ... carry the seeds of war," a statement by the presidency quoted Hadi as saying. "It rewards the coup leaders and punishes the Yemeni people at the same time."

The World Health Organization reports that over 1400 suspected cholera cases have been declared in the last three weeks. The outbreak of the deadly disease is up from only eight cases earlier this month, and is largely due to the war’s impact on health facilities and a lack of clean water.

A car bomb detonated near the new location of Yemen’s central bank headquarters in Aden, injuring five. No group has claimed responsibility for the attack.

Sunday, October 30 Saudi-led airstrikes hit a prison and security site in al-Hudaydah, killing 60, including inmates. A statement released by the coalition said that the building was “used by Houthi militia and the forces of the deposed president as a command and control center for their military operations,” and claimed that “targeting protocols and procedures were followed fully.‎"