September 26-October 2: UN investigators to be added to Yemen inquiry

Monday, September 26The UK is backing a draft UN resolution “to dispatch a monitor and report on the situation of human rights in Yemen.” British support for the international inquiry may indicate a shift in the country’s policy towards, and support of, the Saudi-led war, but rights groups say this proposal still falls short of a full, independent investigation that is needed in Yemen.

Yemeni forces killed suspected al-Qaeda chief Abdullah Hubaibat during a raid of his home in Loder, Abyan province, according to security officials. The alleged insurgents exchanged fire with security forces, killing one Yemeni soldier and two other al-Qaeda suspects.

Tuesday, September 27 The US state department says it is “deeply concerned” by reports of American citizens detained in Yemen by the Houthi-controlled National Security Bureau and is calling for their release. The statement follows last week’s report of an American teacher who was abducted from a school in San’a.

“Such detentions are unacceptable, put in jeopardy any Houthi efforts to establish that they are credible and responsible interlocutors, and invite serious questions about their commitment to seek a lasting peace for Yemen.”

To the dismay of human rights organizations, UK foreign secretary Boris Johnson has rejected calls for Britain to support an international inquiry into Saudi war crimes in Yemen. Johnson said that the UK is already "using a very, very wide variety of information sources about what is happening to acquaint ourselves with the details" of Yemen’s war.

Doctors Without Borders released two reports detailing coalition airstrikes on its medical facilities in Yemen. The two attacks resulted in the death of 20 people, most of them patients, and wounded 32 others. MSF says there was no legitimate reason for these attacks, one on a hospital in Hajjah governorate on August 15, 2016, and another at a clinic in Ta’iz on December 2, 2015.

Security Belt Forces in Aden have deported over 200 African immigrants, mostly Ethiopians, according to local officials and residents. A statement by the security forces justified the deportation saying it would prevent the migrants from joining the Houthi movement and al-Qaeda.

An analysis in Atlantic Council’s MENASource warns that Saudi Arabia’s aggressions in Yemen are placing unprecedented strain on US relations with the kingdom. To mend these rifts, the coalition must allow impartial investigations into alleged war crimes and hold those in command accountable for their actions. The recent Senate vote on a bill to block the transfer of $1.15 billion worth of weapons to Saudi Arabia, “demonstrates a rising frustration with the daily loss of civilian life, collateral damage that includes humanitarian efforts to mitigate the suffering caused by the conflict, and damage to essential infrastructure necessary for post-conflict reconstruction.”

Wednesday, September 28 Coalition spokesperson General Ahmed al-Asiri says that Saudi Arabia will not agree to a peace deal unless it requires the Houthis to disband their armed wing, saying that the kingdom would not "accept an armed militia at our back door." The announcement by the coalition is a rejection of last week’s truce proposed by the Houthis.

US Department of Defense’s Central Command reports two more drone strikes on al-Qaeda targets in Yemen. The first strike on September 20 in Marib killed two alleged operatives while another in Baydah on September 22 killed two others.

UN Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights Kate Gilmore says that the Yemeni commission currently tasked with reporting human rights abuses "lacks impartiality [and] does not abide by the basic norms of protection.”

The Yemeni National Commission of Inquiry reports to Yemen’s exiled government and the Saudi-led coalition, the group responsible for the majority of civilian deaths in Yemen’s war. The UN Human Rights Council decides Thursday whether to continue with the Saudi-backed investigation or set up an independent inquiry.

Thursday, September 29 Saudi Arabia and other coalition states have dodged an independent UN-sanctioned inquiry into human rights abuses in Yemen, which was backed by rights groups, but UN investigators will be tasked with documenting violations by the coalition.

Human Rights Watch had appealed to the UN Human Rights Council to launch an international, independent investigation into Saudi war crimes in Yemen. The newly-approved inquiry is seen as a compromise, but rights groups say it falls short of a much-needed independent investigation.

Two suspected al-Qaeda leaders were killed in another US drone strike in Baydah, according to local officials. The strike was the third in central Yemen in a week.

Monasser Saleh al-Quaiti, Hadi’s newly-appointed head of Yemen’s central bank, reports that he was “handed over a bank empty of money, a monetary cycle that was incapable of circulating and a database that was not existent.”

Al-Quaiti pledged to keep the bank independent and pay salaries, “despite the (insurgent) Houthis keeping the database.”

Friday, September 30 Suspected Islamic State militants gunned down senior intelligence official General Ali Awwad at his home in Aden’s Buraqa district. IS claimed responsibility for the attack on their Twitter account.

Saturday, October 1 A UAE military vessel was struck by Houthi forces in the Bab al-Mandeb strait, off of Yemen's southern coast. The coalition claimed to have “rescued civilians from a vessel targeted by Houthi militias...that was transferring medical aid to the city of Aden and evacuating wounded civilians for treatment." The UAE military said that none of its crew was hurt. Houthi forces claimed to have destroyed the vessel.

A New York Times’ piece helps to explain why some wars and humanitarian catastrophes, like Yemen’s, go unnoticed, while others receive worldwide attention. “There is no obvious good-versus-evil story to tell [in Yemen]: The country is being torn apart by a variety of warring factions on the ground and pummeled from the air by Saudi Arabia, an American ally. There is no camera-ready villain for Americans to root against.”

Sunday, October 2 The US state department released a statement condemning Saturday’s attack by Houthi forces on a UAE vessel.

“We take these threats seriously. The United States remains committed to upholding freedom of navigation through the Bab al-Mandeb. We call on the Houthi-Saleh groups to immediately cease attacks against all vessels. These provocative actions risk exacerbating the current conflict and narrow the prospects for a peaceful settlement.

Saleh al-Sammad, head of the Houthi’s political council, appointed Abdel Aziz Saleh Abtour as “prime minister”, according to the Houthi-run Saba News website. Habtour is a former governor of Aden and a member of the political bureau of Saleh's General People's Congress.