May 9-15: Mukalla struck by series of IS bombings, UN talks push forward

Monday, May 9Over 800 workers were evicted from Aden by local pro-secessionist security forces on Sunday. Those forcibly removed from shops, restaurants, and homes in the southern city were mostly from Ta’iz, which is located in north Yemen according to the pre-1990 borders. The security forces, who were appointed by Hadi, deemed the northerners "a threat to security," but Hadi himself quickly condemned the evictions, calling them “unacceptable.”

Mukalla’s airport was reopened following the withdrawal of al-Qaeda forces, who occupied the port city for a year. The first flight reportedly arrived Sunday from the UAE carrying Red Crescent medical supplies.

Tuesday, May 10 US Central Command News Release announced recent drone strikes against al-Qaeda in Yemen. This update was issued at the same time as the Pentagon admitted to deploying “military advisors” in Yemen to assist the UAE in fighting al-Qaeda. “The U.S. military has conducted four counterterrorism airstrikes against the al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula terrorist organization in Yemen in recent weeks, killing 10 al-Qaida operatives and injuring one…”

Saudi coalition spokesman Brigadier General Ahmed al-Asiri has accused the Houthis and Saleh of direct cooperation with al-Qaeda. This is despite numerous reports within the last year that Saudi coalition forces have fought alongside al-Qaeda in their battle against the Houthis. Al-Asiri later said that if peace talks in Kuwait fail, the Saudi-led coalition is prepared to launch a military operation to enter San’a.

UN Special Envoy to Yemen Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed said that both sides to the Kuwait talks reached an agreement to exchange half of all prisoners within the next 20 days. The number of total prisoners involved is unclear, and may range from a few hundred to a few thousand.

Wednesday, May 11 At least 10 troops were killed in three different attacks by IS militants who detonated car bombs outside military and naval bases in Mukalla. The attacks come a month after the city was retaken from al-Qaeda by Yemeni and UAE forces.

Thursday, May 12 The UN reports that Yemen’s food situation is on the verge of humanitarian disaster unless urgent funding is accessible for the Food and Agriculture Organization. The report states that agriculture must be an integral part of the humanitarian response plan, as aid organizations will not be able to provide the amount of food needed for the 14.4 million Yemenis urgently in need of assistance.

Friday, May 13 UN Envoy Ould Cheikh Ahmed reported that the Houthi and government delegations discussed proposals to bridge the gap between their respective visions, reaching consensus on some issues. He added that “progress is being achieved, albeit at a relatively slow pace.”

Sunday, May 15 The second IS suicide bombing in Mukalla in one week targeted a police base Sunday morning, killing 31 recruits who were waiting outside the building. Sixty were left critically injured.