January 19-25: Houthi landmines claim multiple victims, warring parties at standstill in Hudaydah

Saturday, January 19

According to AP, UN experts have found that fuel shipped illegally from Iran is being used by the Houthis to finance their operations.

ReliefWeb published a November 2018 Water, Hygiene and Sanitation (WASH) analysis of the Shara’b al-Salam district of Ta’iz province today. The analysis concludes that 20% of internally displaced persons and 31% of host community households in the district had not been able to meet their water needs in the month prior to the assessment. Furthermore, 76% of IDPs and 70% of host community households in the district reported that leaving garbage in public spaces where it was left uncollected was the most common method of disposal.

Al-Masdar Online reports that two of Ta’iz city’s most wanted individuals were killed today by the Abu al-Abbas Brigades, an armed group with ties to AQAP and the UAE that controls parts of Ta’iz.

Al-Masdar Online tweeted a video in which the mother of activist Zakariya al-Qasim demands to know the fate of her son, who has been imprisoned by UAE forces for approximately one year.

Yemenis Demand Accountability from Conflict Parties in "Revolution of the Hungry" Protests

On Saturday October 6, protests broke out at the University of San’a in the Houthi-controlled Yemeni capital, the University of Ibb, and the city of Ta’iz. Demonstrations by women in particular have also been reported in the city of Ibb, calling for an end to hunger. These protests, organized under the title “Revolution of the Hungry,” called attention to the deteriorating economic conditions in the country as well as the widespread suffering of Yemenis from starvation and malnutrition, and express anger at Houthi governance practices which have worsened the economic and food-security situation for civilians in areas under their control. Nearly two months before, there were reports that Yemeni activists had called for citizens to participate in a “Revolution of the Hungry” in San’a against the Houthis.

August 28-September 14: Coalition resumes assault on Hudaydah


A UN report stated that nearly “120,000 suspected cases of cholera were reported” in Yemen between January and Mid-August, with the number of cases steadily increasing. UN spokesperson Stephane Dujarric worried that “the increasing rate of infections” could signify a “possible third wave of the epidemic.”

Inside Houthis’ illegal prison: fragile bodies and skeletons

The Abductees’ Mothers Association in Yemen recently released a statement revealing an extralegal detention facility run by Houthi militias within the central prison in Hudaydah province. The Hunaysh detention facility has reportedly been used to illegally hold 70 female abductees without rights or access to counsel since January 2017.

Houthis and Saleh clash in San'a

Violent confrontations between the Houthis and pro-Saleh forces started on Saturday after the two sides exchanged accusations of treachery in televised speeches last week. Abd al-Malik al-Houthi said that former president Saleh had to bear the consequences of calling Ansar Allah a “militia,” and that the Houthis considered the GPC party’s call for a mass demonstration in the capital an internal threat. Meanwhile, pro-Saleh media accused the Houthis of blocking the arrival of supporters to the rally by establishing security barriers and checkpoints in Raymah and Hudaydah provinces.

UN Special Envoy releases details of plan for al-Hudaydah

Last week, UN Special Envoy for Yemen Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed announced the details of a plan to effectively remove the governorate of al-Hudaydah from the Yemeni civil war. The plan does far more than propose a ceasefire for the vital port city; it also includes the payment of salaries to civil servants, and spells out the role of the international community. If implemented, the “al-Hudaydah Plan” could serve as a model for a nation-wide peace agreement. The Government of President Hadi and the Government of Egypt have reportedly announced their support for the plan, it is not yet clear whether any of the other warring parties will agree to the plan. Below is the YPP’s English translation of the plan, as presented by the UN Special Envoy to the Arab League.

Federal judges block new Muslim Ban before implementation

Yesterday afternoon a federal judge in Hawaii issued a restraining order preventing the federal government from implementing some of the provisions of President Trump's second executive order on immigration, travel, and refugee resettlement. Among other things, the order would have prohibited the issuance of new visas for nationals of Yemen, Iran, Libya, Syria, Somalia, and Sudan for at least 90 days, and paused all refugee resettlement and the processing of refugee applications for 120 days. It also would have reduced the maximum number of refugees admitted to the US in 2017 to 50,000, less than half the maximum set by the Obama administration. The Hawaii ruling blocks those provisions. A federal court in Maryland ruled a few hours later, with similar effect.

Southern governors call for end to unauthorized arrests

The United Arab Emirates has played a major role in the Saudi-led coalition that backs the Hadi government in Yemen’s ongoing civil war. That role has involved not only humanitarian and military support, but also the training and supervision of local security forces in the South--specifically the Security Belt Forces in and around Aden, and the Hadhrami Elite Forces in Hadhramawt. As we reported last summer, these units have been implicated in extrajudicial raids, arrests, detention, and torture of locals. The governors of Abyan and Hadhramawt governorates recently made announcements calling for an end to these unauthorized activities.

Peace talks end on an optimistic note

A piece in Monday'sNew York Times put a mildly positive spin on the conclusion of the first round of direct peace talks between the Hadi-Bahah government and the Houthi-GPC alliance, which took place in Switzerland last week. The talks did not produce any concrete outcome in terms of ending the conflict in Yemen. However, they did result in increased humanitarian access to the city of Ta'iz, which had been under a total siege by Houthi-Saleh forces, and there was a limited exchange of prisoners between the two sides. Furthermore, according to an anonymous diplomat quoted in the Times, there was a "palpable warming on a personal level between the two delegations over the course of the week." Independent journalist Nawal al-Maghafi has tweeted similar observations from the peace talks:

A previous round of talks, held in Geneva in June, collapsed without the two sides even stepping foot in the same room, so the progress achieved in this round, limited though it was, is a good start.

Selected readings, July 30

We have some exciting original posts coming in the very near future, but in the meantime, here are a few recent articles everyone should read: On Wednesday a car bomb exploded outside a mosque in San‘a frequented by members of the Bohra or Isma'ili sect. The bombing was claimed by members of the Islamic State's "wilayat San‘a," who have claimed a number of previous mosque bombings. The IS statement accused the Bohra community of supporting the Houthis.

Reuters reports that local resistance groups, with help from Saudi and Emirati military advisors (read: Special Forces) and Saudi-trained Yemeni fighters, are making gains in the northern and eastern outskirts of Aden. The resistance has reportedly driven Houthi forces out of suburban positions from which they'd been shelling Aden over the last two weeks. As always, take phrases like "Forces loyal to exiled President Hadi" with a grain of salt; very few of the groups fighting in Aden are interested in the prospect of a new Hadi administration.

The Washington Post has a more detailed piece on the anti-Houthi coalition's consolidation of control in Aden. President Hadi and his allies want to use Aden as a beachhead for a wider advance into Yemen, which would probably involve a lot more Saudi/GCC troops on the ground. President Hadi has also recently announced plans to consolidate all local resistance groups into the "national army," a plan that will face plenty of, um, resistance (see above).

Human Rights Watch has released two important reports in the last week. Yesterday they put out this one, on the use of indiscriminate shelling by Houthi forces in Aden. Houthi tactics in the southern city, which failed to distinguish civilians from combatants, constitute war crimes. A couple of days earlier, HRW reported on the Saudi bombing of a block of residential buildings attached to a power plant in the Red Sea coastal city of al-Mokha. According to HRW investigators, there were no military targets at or near this location, making its targeting "an apparent war crime." The bombing killed at least 65 civilians, including ten children.

Dengue Fever Spreads as Yemen's Health System collapses

Since it began in March, Yemen’s civil war—bolstered by Saudi airstrikes and a crippling air and sea blockade—has brought about a near-total collapse of Yemen’s public health system. Now, on top of endemic diseases like malaria, Yemen’s coastal cities are witnessing a rapidly-escalating outbreak of dengue fever. Thousands of residents in five cities have contracted this contagious disease, chiefly in the Red Sea coast city of al-Hudaydah and the southern port city of Aden, according to the local health officials. The disease broke out in Aden and al-Hudaydah almost simultaneously, before spreading into other southern cities, reaching the southeastern province of Hadhramawt.

Dengue fever is caused by viruses transmitted to humans by mosquitoes. Though the viruses cannot pass directly from human to human, carriers of the disease infect mosquitoes that bite them, which subsequently pass the virus on to others.

The recurrence of dengue fever in these Yemeni coastal cities, however, seems to have a seasonal pattern. According to Director of Medical Doctors Association in al-Hudaydah, Najeeb Molhi, this infectious disease recurs annually in the city, with most cases occurring between November and March each year.

“The cases [of dengue fever] start emerging in November or December of each year and the peak incidence occurs in March,” said Molhi, who also reported that the ongoing fighting and blockade have made the health situation worse.

Due to both the Saudi-led air war and the civil conflict, the health system in Yemen has been virtually paralyzed: fighting on the ground has caused constant and widespread power outages and fuel shortages, while the months-long sea, land, and air blockade—imposed by the Saudis and their allies—has made it impossible for aid agencies to bring in sufficient medical supplies and fuels to this most impoverished Arab country.

“Yemen’s health system is on the verge of breakdown, and it is only thanks to the heroic efforts of the country’s health workers, the resilience of its brave people and the tireless efforts of national and international humanitarian organizations that any semblance of health care is being provided,” Dr. Ahmed Shadoul, WHO’s Representative to Yemen, was quoted as saying in a WHO press release.

More than 158 health facilities have been forced to shut down, according to UNICEF, and several hospitals have had to reduce their operations to specific units. The Health Ministry in the capital, Sanʻa, have said that at least 62 health facilities have been affected by the relentless air and ground warfare.

“Health infrastructure continues to be hit, with attacks reported on hospitals and ambulances, a medical warehouse, an oxygen factory, and a blood transfusion center,” said the WHO in a recent statement.

Now, roughly one third of Yemen’s population (8.6 million) needs urgent medical help and 80 percent (21.1 million) needs some form of humanitarian assistance, while half of the population is food insecure.

Al-Hudaydah (Governorate population: 2,621,000 people)

Dengue fever was first documented in Yemen in 1870. One of the country’s most significant outbreaks occurred in 1954, affecting 98% of the population of al-Hudaydah. This year in al-Hudaydah, where most of its populace lives below the poverty line, at least 2,700 residents have thus far been infected, out of which ten have died, the Director of Health Bureau in the city, Abdurrahman Jarallah, said in an interview.

Jarallah said that “most of the cases have occurred in the young people, particularly females,” indicating that dengue fever has also reached several rural areas and that tens of cases were not registered.

In early 2011, an infectious disease—known locally as Mukarfas in al-Hudaydah—was controversially identified as dengue fever. That March the disease spread to several rural areas of the governorate, claiming the lives of dozens of people, according to the local health bureau.

A recent study, published by BB Bulletin in February, concluded that dengue in al-Hudaydah was most commonly found among teenage and young adult males. Speaking to the YPP, Murad al-Ahdal, one of the four Yemeni authors of the BB Bulletin’s field study, said that patients observed in al-Hudaydah suffer three phases of the disease:

“Symptoms in the first phase start with fever and joint pains and last for seven days, while in the second phase the complications arise as the platelet count drops down to dangerous levels, along with acute blood loss, which can result in death if the patient isn’t given blood and the infected platelets isolated,” said al-Ahdal, who received top marks from Sanʻa University last year for his M.Sc thesis on how to detect and identify dengue viruses in Al-Hudaydah using PCR tests.

“The third phase is the most dangerous phase of infection; the patient would suffer a shock during the first three days along with blood clots in more than one place in the body,” which can result in sudden death.

Al-Ahdal believes that al-Hudaydah city has been “a hotbed of the dengue fever viruses since 1994, with three identified serotypes, which are transmitted by mosquitos of the family Flaviviridae.” His field-based thesis was the first in Yemen and the region to reveal the fourth serotype of flaviviruses.

Aden (population: 800,000 people)

In the southern coastal city of Aden, where the months-long civil conflict has left residents with virtually no food, clean drinking water, fuels, or sufficient medical help, more than 5,000 people have been infected by dengue fever as of last week.

Khadher Laswar, the Director of the Health Bureau in Aden, told the YPP via telephone that 5,042 dengue fever cases have been registered so far. “At least 219 people of various ages have died.”

The director indicated that the count of cases and fatalities in the areas where fighting is fierce is believed to be higher.

“So many people have been infected but couldn’t reach the hospitals, and many died in their homes,” he said.

Like in al-Hudaydah, sewage and garbage piles help mosquitoes, which transmit the dengue fever viruses, to procreate in Aden, but the relentless fighting, Laswar said, has worsened the health situation in the city despite the concerted efforts of a number of aid agencies.

The ICRC’s Yemen office said that four districts in the city—Crater (Sirah), Khor Maksar, al-Tawahi, and al-Maʻala—are “infested with dengue fever.”

Al-Mukalla (population: 531,205 people)

The port city of al-Mukalla in the southeastern Hadhramawt Governorate has so far seen scores of dengue fever cases, which are believed to have come from Aden. Over the last month, dozens of sick and injured people have arrived in al-Mukalla from Aden and neighboring governorates of Abyan and Shabwah.

Riyadh Jariri, the Director of Hadhramawt’s Health Bureau, said that “al-Mukalla is an infested area, as tens of dengue fever cases have emerged in a number of districts of the city.”

“At least 20 cases have so far been registered in the city, including six cases of people from outside al-Mukalla,” Riyadh said. As more and more Yemenis are displaced by fighting—over one million people have left their homes already—it’s likely that the disease will continue to spread.

Statement of Yemeni civil society organizations on the current crisis

The statement below was issued today by a group of Yemeni civil society organizations. One of the signatory organizations, the Peace for Yemen Group, shared the statement with the YPP for publication. The YPP is not a signatory to this statement. In the name of God Most Gracious, Most Merciful A cry for help for the humanitarian crisis in Yemen

Dear Mr. Ban Ki Moon, Secretary-General of the United Nations: Dear Heads of Members states of the United Nations: Dear representatives of international humanitarian, development and human rights agencies:

We, the leaders, members and representatives of humanitarian, human rights, development, women, youth and social empowerment organizations in Yemen, call on the United Nations and its member countries to institute an immediate ceasefire among warring factions in Yemen, to create safe passage for commercial goods and humanitarian and economic assistance into the country, and to facilitate resumption of negotiations, with no preconditions, among Yemen’s political parties toward a reasonable and workable compromise.

We are experiencing firsthand the devastation of our country from the armed conflicts and bombings, which are killing innocent people and leaving many more without medical treatment, shelter, water and food. Not only military targets are being hit: civilian businesses, homes and food factories have been demolished; utilities, social, health and government services have stopped functioning; and civilian hunger, injuries and deaths are climbing. This unjust war, which grew from hostilities among political factions and has opened our nation to external and foreign interference, will come to no good end. By ruining basic infrastructure and cutting off access to commerce, food, water and health care, Yemen will be left bankrupt and desperate, ultimately tearing our country apart and giving power to armed groups and extremists.

Yemen is now under an air, land and sea embargo, Yemenis are banned from traveling, airports are closed, even for those who must travel for medical reasons, international financial agencies have suspended their businesses in Yemen, and fund transfers into the country have been stopped. Oil derivative supplies have dwindled and power generation is being cut all over the country. Lifesaving food and medical supplies cannot reach the thousands who are suffering. The Yemeni people suffer daily from this ugly war and the humanitarian crisis that has followed in its wake, but the other nations will suffer, as well, since the only winners are the armed factions that will use Yemen as a base operations to wreak havoc both in our country and abroad.

Therefore, we in the civil society organizations, appeal to Mr. Ban Ki Moon, Secretary-General of the United Nations, the members of the United Nations and international humanitarian agencies to quickly and immediately intervene, to stop this war and force all powers that are behind these attacks to resume dialogue with no prior conditions, to form a transitional presidency or presidential council, building on the constructive outcomes of the National Dialogue Conference. Please hear the voices of all Yemenis—every mother and child—who appeal for your leadership and immediate intervention to save Yemen from this humanitarian crisis.

Signatory organizations:

  1. Network Of Independent Women
  2. Alliance Of Volunteers For Women
  3. Yemen First Organization
  4. Women Will Bring Us Together Initiative
  5. Awam Foundation For Cultural Development
  6. Center For Cultural Media
  7. Network Of Arab Women Leaders
  8. Bran Cultural and Humanitarian Foundation
  9. Yemeni Foundation for Informatics
  10. Association of Women In The Media for the Support of Women's Issues
  11. Faces Media And Development Foundation
  12. Peace for Yemen Group
  13. Scheherazade Cultural Foundation
  14. Sanaa University Academics Club
  15. Network of Media Figures for the Support of Women's Issues
  16. Activists For The Homeland Initiative
  17. Organization of Diaspora Yemenis
  18. Association of Yemenis in Russia for Change
  19. National Committee for Women
  20. Voice for Development Foundation
  21. Activists for Development and Human Rights
  22. Together Foundation (Ibb)
  23. The Sam Foundation for Childhood and Development
  24. Council of Yemeni Businesswomen
  25. Foundation for Cultural and Social Development of the Child
  26. Foundation for Community Cooperation
  27. Yemeni Human Rights Monitor
  28. Organization for Women’s Development
  29. Jisarah Foundation for Development and Human Rights
  30. Yemeni Coalition For Peace
  31. Ghasn al-Qanna Magazine
  32. The Peacemakers
  33. The Supreme Council For Motherhood and Childhood

I translated the names of the signatory organizations from Arabic, and there were several I was not familiar with. If you'd like to reference the original list, you can find it below: [toggle title="Signatory organizations (Arabic)"]

المنظمات الانسانية والحقوقية النسائية والشبابية والقوى المجتمعية في اليمن 1. شبكة النساء المستقلات (فوز ) 2. تحالف متطوعون من اجل النساء 3. منظمة اليمن اولا 4. مبادرة إرادة نساء تجمعنا 5. مؤسسة أوام التنموية الثقافية 6. مركز الاعلام الثقافي 7. شبكة الرائدات العربيات 8. مؤسسة بران الثقافية الانسانية 9. المؤسسة اليمنية للمعلوماتية 10. تكتل اعلاميات لدعم قضايا النساء 11. مؤسسة وجوه للإعلام والتنمية 12. مجموعة السلام لليمن 13. مؤسسة شهرزاد الثقافية 14. منتدى اكاديميات جامعة صنعاء 15. شبكة اعلاميون لدعم قضايا النساء 16. مبادرة نشطاء من اجل الوطن 17. منظمة يمانيو المهجر 18. تجمع اليمنيين في روسيا للتغيير 19. اللجنة الوطنية للمرأة 20. مؤسسة صوت للتنمية 21. نشطاء للتنمية وحقوق الانسان 22. منظمة معا ( آب) 23. مؤسسة سام للطفولة والتنمية 24. مجلس سيدات الاعمال اليمنيات 25. مؤسسة غرس الثقافية الاجتماعية للتنمية الطفل 26. مؤسسة المشاركة من أجل المجتمع – اليمن 27. المرصد اليمني لحقوق الانسان 28. منظمة تنمية المرأة (ود ) 29. مؤسسة جسارة للتنمية وحقوق الانسان 30. التحالف اليمني للسلام 31. مجلة غصن القنا 32. صانعات السلام 33. المجلس الاعلى للأمومة والطفولة


News from the southern fronts

As Saudi-led airstrikes continue in several parts of Yemen, the southern city of Aden is still being contested by local resistance fighters and pro-Houthi/pro-Saleh forces. Earlier this week, Houthi/Saleh units fought their way through al-Mansurah and other northern districts of Aden, and continued fighting with local forces in Khor Maksar. On Friday, the invading units shelled neighborhoods in Sirah District, also known as Crater, Aden's historic commercial core. Reporting by Al Jazeera from Friday shows local resistance fighters receiving crates of weapons and other supplies, which were air-dropped by Saudi planes. For the moment, local forces seem to have stopped the Houthi/Saleh advance outside of Sirah. Saudi-led aircraft bombed several parts of Aden this week, aiming to disrupt the invading forces' supply lines and take out armored vehicles belonging to the Houthi/Saleh forces. However, Houthi/Saleh forces are still in control of all land routes into the city, leaving the civilian population cut off from food and fuel.

According to Adeni officials, almost 200 people have been killed in this week's fighting in the city, and over 1,000 injured. Three quarters of these reported casualties are thought to be civilians.

In an emergency session of the UN Security Council today, Russia put forth a proposal for a humanitarian ceasefire. The Red Cross has called for an immediate halt to fighting to allow its workers and other NGOs to bring in badly-needed medical personnel and supplies.

"Otherwise, put starkly, many more people will die. For the wounded, their chances of survival depend on action within hours, not days," Robert Mardini, the ICRC's head of operations in the Near and Middle East, said Saturday.

Two Red Crescent volunteers working to rescue wounded civilians in Aden were shot dead on Friday in Sirah.

Also on Friday, AQAP fighters seized government buildings and banks in al-Mukalla, the capital of Hadhramawt Governorate. In response, forces from the Hadhramawt Tribal Confederacy have taken control of military bases in other parts of Hadhramawt, and are said to be advancing on al-Mukalla to force AQAP out.

Important readings on the current conflict

Coverage of the war in Yemen has, as always, been spotty. Here are some of the more important pieces on the current situation: Yemen specialist Adam Baron spoke to NPR's Morning Edition today about why foreign observers shouldn't view Yemen's conflict as primarily sectarian, and the many dangers of escalating and regionalizing the conflict.

Adam Baron is also featured on this excellent ECFR panel discussion of the Yemeni conflict, along with Nawal al-Maghafi and Mina al-Oraibi. Nawal's account of sneaking into Sa‘dah in 2010 to report on the Houthi movement is particularly gripping.

On Monday, Morning Edition featured a segment on Saudi-led airstrikes, with guests Hisham al-Omeisy and Hussain al-Bukhaiti.

Abubakr al-Shamahi of Al-Araby has a rather useful video explaining the Yemeni conflict in four minutes.

Medicins Sans Frontieres reports that it's dealing with hundreds of victims of fighting in Aden, Lahj, and al-Dhali‘, as well as casualties from airstrikes in northern Yemen. MSF says it cannot bring in desperately-needed supplies and personnel because the Saudi-led coalition is blocking humanitarian shipments from Yemen's air and seaports.

ICRC has also complained about the blockade on relief supplies.

UNICEF reports that at least 62 children have been killed in recent fighting. More than two dozen civilians were killed when coalition forces bombed an IDP camp in Sa‘dah on Monday. On Tuesday, coalition strikes destroyed a dairy factory in al-Hudaydah, killing at least 37 civilians. Fighting continued Tuesday in the northern parts of the city of Aden.

GCC airstrikes continue across Yemen

Just after nightfall in San‘a, sources in the city are reporting the most intense airstrikes since the Saudi-led joint bombing operation began on Wednesday. The air campaign, which Saudi Arabia has dubbed Operation Decisive Storm (‘asifat al-Hazm), includes forces from all Gulf Cooperation Council states with the exception of Oman, which seems to be positioning itself as a potential mediator. Egypt, Jordan, and Morocco are also contributing forces, while the US and other western states have promised logistical and intelligence support.  According to Yemeni government sources (that is, pro-Houthi officials in the acting government in San‘a), at least 39 Yemeni civilians were killed in the first two nights of air raids. Thursday night's bombings expanded beyond the capital, with coalition warplanes targeting pro-Houthi and pro-Saleh forces in Sa‘dah, Ta‘iz, Aden, and Lahj. Strikes on Friday reportedly have also targeted positions in al-Hudaydah on the Red Sea coast.

Meanwhile, Houthi/Saleh forces have continued their ground campaign for control over southern Yemen, pushing into Abyan and Shabwah Governorates for the first time on Friday. Pro-Saleh forces have reportedly cut off Aden--which the GCC swears is still under the control of the "legitimate government," even though President Hadi fled the city two days ago--from the north, west, and east. GCC-coalition naval and ground forces are waiting off the coast of Aden, but have not entered Yemen yet.

To get a sense of the thinking within the US administration about this latest phase of the conflict, read the transcript of Thursday's State Department press briefing. It seems that the Obama administration may have been caught off-guard by the GCC air campaign, and there does not seem to be total agreement within the US government about the usefulness of GCC actions.

The escalating conflict is already exacerbating Yemen's very serious humanitarian crisis. With roads cut by rival military forces, and power and fuel unavailable, life is only getting harder for the millions of Yemenis facing food insecurity and water shortages.

For propaganda-heavy coverage of the campaign from the Saudi perspective, check out Al Arabiya's English and Arabic websites. Al Jazeera's coverage is more balanced, giving airtime to Yemenis who oppose the airstrikes. Democracy Now interviewed Yemeni analyst and activist Farea al-Muslimi from San'a today, and International Crisis Group released a new briefing paper, which argues that the best option for descalation and peaceful resolution of the crisis would be a monitored ceasefire under the auspices of the UN Security Council, followed by UN-led talks.

Saudi Arabia launches air campaign against Yemen

Last night, over 100 Saudi Arabian Air Force jets bombed Yemen's capital, San'a. The air strikes ostensibly targeted pro-Houthi installations, with the aim of stopping the advance of forces aligned with Ansar Allah and former president 'Ali 'Abdullah Saleh. Earlier in the day, President Hadi--who has been running a government-in-exile from the southern city of Aden--called on the GCC and United Nations to authorize military intervention against his enemies. Meanwhile, available reports indicate that Hadi fled the country yesterday, as pro-Houthi/pro-Saleh forces entered Aden.  US Secretary of State John Kerry spoke with GCC leaders this morning, and confirmed that the United States supports the bombing campaign, which at present involves all GCC states with the exception of Oman. Egyptian, Pakistani, and Sudanese forces also appear to be involved.

The Yemen Peace Project strongly condemns US support for military intervention in Yemen. The GCC strikes are not likely to have a positive impact on political negotiations, and are making life for ordinary Yemenis in the capital much harder. According to official sources, at least 25 Yemenis were killed overnight in the bombings. Many San'a residents are reportedly fleeing the capital, or are moving away from Houthi-controlled areas within the city. Fuel and electricity are unavailable in many parts of the city as well.

Suicide attacks target San'a mosques

On Friday afternoon the al-Badr and al-Hashush mosques in Yemen's capital were hit by coordinated suicide attacks, apparently involving a pair of attackers at each location. By the end of the day, authorities had counted 137 people killed, and more than twice that number wounded in the blasts. The mosques in question appear to have been targeted because of their association with pro-Ansar Allah figures. This article in the New York Times--which features reporting by two excellent Yemeni journalists, Saeed al-Batati and our own contributor Mohammed Ali Kalfood--does a good job of contextualizing the attacks. As with a lot of the coverage of what's going on in Yemen today, however, I take issue with the piece's assumptions about sectarian conflict. In Yemen, and especially in San'a, things are not so simple as "Sunni vs. Shi'i," and I urge readers not to assume that such descriptors accurately reflect the local reality. We'll return to that topic in future posts.

Late on Friday, a group identifying itself as the Islamic State in San'a Province claimed credit for the attack. Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula issued a statement denying any connection to the attack.

Funerals were held on Saturday for many of the victims. Our hearts and thoughts are with their families and friends.

Hadi and Government resign under Houthi pressure

After a week of surprisingly rapid developments in what had previously been a very slow-motion coup, the political situation in Yemen took another turn on Thursday. First, Yemen's prime minister, Khaled Bahah, delivered his resignation--and that of his government--to President Hadi. In a message later published by (former) Information Minister Nadia al-Sakkaf, Bahah said that while his technocratic government had done its best for the nation,

...we decided today to present our resignation...so that we are not made party to what is going on and what will happen. We are not responsible for the actions of others, in front of God and in front of the Yemeni people. We regret that it has come to this, and we apologize to you the patient people of Yemen and pray that God will sail Yemen to stability and safety.

Shortly thereafter, official sources confirmed that President Hadi had delivered his own letter of resignation to Yemen's parliament (which, in case you've forgotten, hasn't faced an election since 2003. The current parliament's mandate was in effect extended indefinitely by decree of former president Saleh). According to the constitution (which still technically exists, but really, come on), parliament has to either accept or refuse the resignation by a majority vote, which will be held this Sunday.

Hadi's move was widely seen as a desperate rebuttal to 'Abd al-Malik al-Huthi's totally-not-a-coup. The resignation of Yemen's entire executive branch forces Ansar Allah to take direct responsibility for the situation it has caused. Maybe. This, after all, is Yemen. Doubtless there are more machinations going on behind the scenes, and some kind of negotiated settlement could emerge soon.

For an even better summary of Thursday's developments, read Gregory Johnsen's piece for Buzzfeed. Today, Friday, 'Abd al-Malik al-Huthi has called for public demonstrations in San'a in support of his "revolution" (and also against the anti-Muslim French magazine Charlie Hebdo, because 'Abd al-Malik loves to be relevant). Meanwhile, anti-coup protesters who tried to set up a tent at Change Square last night were reportedly beaten by Huthi gunmen. Can't wait to see what happens next.

A new crackdown on foreign press?

Maybe. Yesterday it came to light, via a wave of social media outrage, that American journalist Adam Baron had been deported from Yemen. Adam had been living in San‘a since the beginning of 2011, and as a freelancer for McClatchy, the Christian Science Monitor, and other outlets, he was responsible for some of the best English-language reporting to come out of Yemen's uprising of 2011. Since then he has cemented his position as one of the most well-connected, insightful, and reliable foreign correspondents in the country (an admittedly small pool, but Adam would do as well on any other beat). The events that lead to Adam's expulsion began on Monday, it seems. Yesterday he arrived in Cairo, at which point his friend and flat-mate (and Mafraj Radio guest) Farea al-Muslimi began discussing the case on Twitter.

By last night, Gregory Johnsen had published additional details in a piece for Buzzfeed, while one of Adam's McClatchy colleagues, Hannah Allam, wrote an even more detailed piece. Late last night, Adam finally spoke for himself on the situation:

While all of this was going on, another American journalist, Tik Root, was trying to get back to San‘a after some time away (Tik covered Olympic skiing for NBC, among other things). Yemeni security had other plans, though.

Naturally the Yemeni government hasn't commented officially on the reasons for Tik's and Adam's expulsions, and neither has the US State Department. Some officials who spoke on background to the Yemen Post suggested that Adam had been kicked out for his own safety; kidnappings of foreigners have been on the rise, and AQAP seems to be stepping up its campaign of violence in the capital in response to the military's assault on AQAP positions in the south (more on that later). It could well be that Yemeni authorities are just too scared of anything happening to American citizens to risk allowing them to stay in the country. The US embassy in San‘a closed to public today, citing a recent attack on the EU mission and the general insecurity. 

It could also be, of course, that Yemeni authorities (some of them, anyway) want less foreign press coverage right now. If that's the case, I can't tell exactly why it would be. In recent days the government has seemed eager to publicize its "advances" against AQAP. I doubt we'll get any further official clarification from the Yemeni government, but if we hear anything enlightening, we'll update this post accordingly. There are still a few foreign journalists in San‘a, including Iona Craig and Casey Coombs; I doubt either of them would be surprised to get a call from the authorities, but let's hope they're left alone.