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.
Yemeni journalists on social media reported intense fighting between Houthi and coalition forces in the streets of al-Durayhimi, just south of Hudaydah City. Journalist Baseem al-Jenani reported multiple civilian casualties and heavy damage to residential neighborhoods.
The AP reported that fighting in al-Durayhimi killed at least 13 civilians in 24 hours. Sources also say Houthi shelling killed five civilians in Hajjah, where the Houthis face resistance from some local tribes as well as the coalition.
The AP quoted US officials who confirm that the UAE has paid money to Yemeni tribes to facilitate the withdrawal of AQAP from certain areas. This follows an earlier AP report that detailed the UAE’s practice of accommodating AQAP, and incorporating AQAP members into pro-government forces.
UAE military leaders told The Independent that the Emirati military intends to remain in Yemen for as long as it takes to “crush” AQAP, even after the Houthis are defeated. Many Yemenis believe that the UAE has colonial ambitions in southern Yemen, and its methods in the fight against AQAP have been criticized.
After months of local protests, the Saudi- and Emirati-led coalition has given up control of al-Ghayda airport in eastern Yemen according to Al Jazeera.
Houthi shelling in Ta’iz killed 3 civilians and injured 6 others today. The Houthis have continued the current spate of shelling for over two weeks.
Fighting in Hudaydah Governorate killed at least 30 civilians in the first two weeks of July.
Turki al-Maliki, Spokesperson for the Saudi-led Coalition, gave a lengthy press briefing claiming that the strike on the Yemeni Presidential Palace was aimed at taking out prominent Houthi leaders Mahdi al-Mashat and Mohammed al-Houthi. Okaz believes both of these men to be dead alongside sixty-six other Houthis. Local sources reported mainly civilian casualties from the strike.
In Yemen: National Chaos, Local Order, Chatham House's Peter Salisbury identifies Yemen as a “chaos state” characterized as “a nominal entity that exists largely as lines on a map and as a concept in newspaper reports and policymaker briefings" (p. 45). The traditional solution to restoring order in a “chaos state” is creating a centralized government that dictates legitimacy from the top down. According to Salisbury’s analysis, this approach is unlikely to work in Yemen. Yemen is not purely a contest for power between the Houthis and the government of President Hadi, or purely a proxy war between Iran and Saudi Arabia, but rather “a region of mini-states at varying degrees of war with one another, and beset by their own complex internal politics and conflicts.”
The governor of Ta’iz, Ali al-Mamari, recently described the economic and military conditions of Ta’iz in an interview with Farea al-Muslimi of the Sana’a Center for Strategic Studies. The Houthis stormed Ta’iz in 2015, and fighting between Houthi-Saleh forces and local resistance groups supported by the Hadi government and the Saudi-led coalition has continued since. The Houthis control Ta’iz’s industrial areas of major economic activity, and in order to keep control of these revenue-generating areas, the Houthis blockade and shell Ta’iz. Al-Mamari details how the central government, particularly the Central Bank of Yemen, neglects Ta’iz - and how the lack of funds contributes to the deteriorating security, education, and public health situation.
In the paper “The evolution of militant Salafism in Taiz,” activist and scholar Bushra Al-Maqtari argues that the rise of the Houthi movement and the outbreak Yemen’s armed conflict have driven a transformation of Salafi groups in Yemen. Since the establishment of the first Salafist center in Yemen in the 1980s, most Salafi factions have focused on charity, relief, and intellectual institutions, and have been governed by the Islamic notion of Wali al-Amr that rejected the disobedience to the ruler and distanced the movement from political action
Deep Root has published its Yemen Trend report for the month of July. The report focused on three components of the Yemeni crisis. The worsening cholera epidemic, the political turmoil and the ongoing military conflict.
We're pleased to publish this guest post by Dr. Abdulkader Alguneid, a physician and activist from Ta'iz. Dr. Abdulkader was kidnapped from his home by Houthi fighters in August 2015; he was released after 300 days of illegal imprisonment and torture in May 2016.
It was mid-day, and I was in a tight, dim cell with two companions.
The clanging sound of the iron door being unlocked came suddenly and loudly, startling and unnerving us. These doors never opened, day after day and month after month, except for the most unusual, or for taking an inmate out for interrogation or something unpleasant.
Monday, October 31At least 10,000 children in Yemen have died from preventable diseases since the war began in March 2015-- one of many disturbing statistics included in a recent statement by UNOCHA. The press release was also a plea to all parties to end the bloodshed and find an immediate political solution.
“Repeatedly over the past 19 months, the people of Yemen have been robbed of their lives, their hope and their right to live in dignity. Thousands have been killed, tens of thousands have been injured, more than three million have been forced to leave their homes, and seven million suffer the daily anxiety of not knowing where their next meal might come from.”
State department spokesperson John Kirby said in a daily press briefing that there are still no updates on the Saudi investigation into the October 8 funeral bombing, in which hundreds of civilians were killed or injured. “[The Saudis] acknowledged that mistakes had been made. But they are still working through that, and we look forward to hearing from them as they learn more and uncover more lessons learned about what happened there. So I don’t have an update...even if I did, it wouldn’t be for me to speak to it. It would be for the Saudi Government to speak to.”
A statement by US Ambassador to the UN Samantha Power called for an “immediate progress on three fronts [in Yemen]: an immediate cessation of hostilities; a humanitarian surge, the likes of which we haven’t seen in Yemen for the life of this conflict; and a prompt return to political talks.”
Reuters reports on Yemen’s north-south divide and the possibility of the country’s post-war fracture. As long as parties to the conflict cannot find a path to peace, let alone a path to a unified government, Yemen’s future remains uncertain.
"We realize that they have their own interests in supporting us because our forces are effective against the Houthis," a southern politician told Reuters on condition of anonymity. "They are worried that a break-up of Yemen into two states on their borders will lead to instability, but we know that separation is the only way to make a just peace."
A few Arabic language outlets reports on clashes in southeastern Ta'iz, which resulted in the deaths of ten Houthi fighters and one pro-government soldier.
The World Food Programme's Muhannad Hadi recently returned from Yemen, and describes in an interview with NPR the scenes of devastation and famine that he was faced with.
“The state of Yemen is broken...They feel that they are dying in silence. And they feel that they have been forgotten by the entire world.”
The report includes comments from former US ambassador to Yemen Barbara Bodine, who says the reason the US got involved with the war in Yemen was to facilitate the Iran deal, which Saudi Arabia clearly objected to.
“This is how we got into this. We need the Saudis for the Iran deal. Nobody anticipated this would last 18 months. No one anticipated the level of carnage...Now we are complicit in a fragile state being turned into a shattered state.”
VICE News also published a report on Yemen’s impending famine, including interviews with medical staff on the ground.
Tuesday, November 1 In a daily press briefing with state department spokesperson John Kirby, one journalist asked about the seemingly contradictory position of the US government on the war in Yemen; as the US assists the Saudi-led coalition yet claims to be seeking a peaceful political solution to the conflict. Kirby responded, stating repeatedly that the US is “on the side squarely of the Yemeni people,” but justified the coalition’s intervention by saying that “the Saudi Government has a right to defend itself and they are under attack almost every day from across that border. They have a right to defend themselves.”
Al Omgy Exchange, a firm accused of carrying out financial transactions with AQAP, has been placed on the US Treasury Department’s list of groups aiding terrorist organizations. Said Salih Abd-Rabbuh al-Omgy and Muhammad Salih Abd-Rubbuh al-Omgy are on the list as well for allowing AQAP to disperse funding throughout Yemen and receive deposits, including extortion payments from Yemeni businesses.
Monday’s comments by Samantha Powers at the UN have sparked criticism from US representative Ted Lieu and humanitarian organizations, who have pointed out US hypocrisy when it comes to condemning violence in Yemen.
"Ambassador Power's remarks, calling for an end to unlawful strikes that kill civilians and hit protected civilian objects, are certainly welcome. But the U.S. has repeatedly failed to acknowledge its own role providing vital support to those airstrikes by refueling coalition planes and continuing to supply Saudi Arabia with U.S. weapons," says Priyanka Motaparthy, senior emergencies researcher at Human Rights Watch.
Wednesday, November 2 Houthi forces have reportedly displaced 150 families from their homes near Ta’iz since clashes between the rebels and pro-government forces escalated on Monday.
Fifty families were evicted from the towns of al-Dayh and al-Rawd, west of Ta’iz, while 100 others were forced to leave al-Silw district in the east.
RT interviewed Catherine Shakdam, the Director of Programs at Shafaqna Institute of Middle Eastern Studies, to learn more about Saudi Arabia’s military goals in Yemen and the sources of funding that allow the conflict to continue.
Thursday, November 3 Time outlines four important points about the war in Yemen, including the impending humanitarian crisis, America’s role in the conflict, and the economic and political impact that will remain far into the future.
Coalition spokesperson Ahmed al-Asiri was interviewed by the BBC, where he listed reasons that Saudi Arabia is not to be blamed for the catastrophic situation in Yemen, adding that “Saudi Arabia will not allow Yemen to deteriorate into ‘a failed state like Libya.’”
Assailants of last Tuesday’s suspected piracy attack in the Red Sea were found to be carrying a “substantial amount of explosives,” the vessel’s owner says, raising suspicions that the incident was an attempted suicide attack.
The shipping company stated that "While the intentions of the attackers and the use of the explosives is unknown, the investigation findings indicate that the explosives would have been sufficient to have caused significant damage to the vessel...It appears, however, that when the skiff was approximately 20m (meters) from the vessel, the explosives detonated, destroying the skiff and ending the attack."
Whatever the motives were for the attack, increased fears of piracy in Red Sea shipping lanes will tighten delivery of critical fuel and supplies to Yemen.
Representative Ted Lieu (D-Calif.) sent a letter to Defense Secretary Ash Carter and Secretary of State John Kerry to inquire about an official’s recent comment that US support for the coalition does not include target selection and review.
“I find it deeply troubling that the U.S. apparently has no advanced knowledge of what targets will be struck by jets that are refueled by U.S. personnel with U.S. tankers,” Lieu wrote.
“The U.S. would appear to be violating LOAC and international standards by engaging in such direct military operations if U.S. personnel are not aware if targets are civilians or military, if the loss of life and property are disproportional, or if the operation is even militarily necessary...U.S. personnel are now at legal risk of being investigated and potentially prosecuted for committing war crimes.”
An anonymous senior diplomat at the United Nations told Reuters that Saudi Arabia appeared broadly to accept a peace plan initiative and had encouraged Hadi to do so as well.
"As far as I'm aware the Saudis have accepted the roadmap ... they have certainly done a very good job behind the scenes of encouraging Hadi to get closer on the spectrum of accepting it than he previously was," said the diplomat.
A reporter from The Intercept asked Saudi Ambassador to the US Prince Abdullah al-Saud if the kingdom will continue to use cluster bombs in Yemen, to which the ambassador replied, “This is like the question, ‘Will you stop beating your wife?’” He added that he was “not a politician,” and said that Saudi Arabia will continue to bomb the Houthis “no matter what it takes.”
Al Jazeera reports that thousands of Yemenis protested in Aden against the new peace plan proposed by UN Envoy Ould Cheikh Ahmed, citing its support of the rebels “power grab.” Photos from the protests, however, appear to show participants waving the flag of South Yemen, with signs promoting a path to southern independence.
The founder of a pro-southern independence group, Salah Haydara, spoke with Aden Al Ghad and explained the southern movement’s presence at these demonstrations. Haydara said that southerners support the legitimate government as long as it is in the interest of southern independence, adding “There is no legitimacy without the legitimacy of the southern people.”
Nasser al-Sakkaf reports on the uptick of robberies in Yemen’s cities, a result of the desperate situation that many citizens find themselves in.
One prisoner that al-Sakkaf interviewed said that he had “sold most of the equipment and furniture in my house, including the bottle of propane and the beds. My children were starving to death so I had only two choices: either to beg or to steal.”
Friday, November 4 The US Department of State announced that Secretary John Kerry will travel to Muscat on November 14 to meet with Sultan Qaboos and Foreign Minister Yusuf bin Alawi “to discuss Yemen and efforts to reach a peaceful settlement to the conflict there. The Secretary will then travel to Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, on November 15 to meet with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed to discuss challenges facing the region.”
Yemen’s ousted president Saleh, now allied with the Houthis, has reportedly welcomed a peace plan proposed by the UN, commenting on social media that it is a “good basis for negotiations."
Abdullah al-Ibbi, who lost 27 members of his family during a Saudi airstrike on his home, spoke to the BBC about his devastating loss and his attempts to recover.
"Sometimes I sleep two, three hours and then I wake up and stay up until morning... I remember my children and my home...Our lives were humble but it was a quiet life, a good life, we were happy...we lost everything."
Maia Baldauf, the program and reporting officer for Mercy Corps in Yemen, writes for Huffington Post to describe life in San’a under airstrikes and raise awareness about the desperately-needed food and medical aid that millions of Yemenis are lacking.
“Currently, over 14 million people ― more than half the population ― are unsure of how they will provide food for themselves. More than 19 million people lack access to safe water. Some 3 million young children and pregnant and nursing women are acutely malnourished or in need of services to prevent acute malnutrition...The world needs to understand this is one of the most massive humanitarian crises in the world.”
The Boston Globe examines America’s role in Yemen’s war, both as a potential peacemaker and as a current supplier for many of the weapons used in Saudi Arabia’s continued airstrikes.
Saturday, November 5 The Huffington Post reports that Nujood Ali, the subject of the film, “I Am Nujood, Age 10 and Divorced,” had met Hillary Clinton on a few occasions. The now 19-year-old has stated that she believes a Clinton presidency would mean a more peaceful Yemen.
“The moment I heard that she would be nominated as U.S. president, I thought things would definitely improve in Yemen. For sure.”
Hillary Clinton's position on the conflict in Yemen was subject to scrutiny last week when her national security advisor Michael Morell advocated for the US military to board Iranian vessels in international waters to demonstrate support for the Saudi coalition, a move that would be considered an act of war.
Vince Cable, a former Cabinet minister, says the UK defense ministry misinformed him about weapons deals with Saudi Arabia, leading the former business secretary to sign off on arms transfers. Cable said he was given assurances the UK would be granted oversight of where British-made weapons were used.
"My very clear understanding was that the equipment would be supplied to Saudi Arabia on the very clear basis that British personnel would have oversight of what the Saudi air force was doing, on the same basis as the Americans."
Overwhelming evidence indicates that both American and British-made weapons have been used in the commission of war crimes in Yemen.
Kerry thanked Oman’s Sultan Qaboos, adding, “We also recognize this positive gesture by the Houthis.”
Mareb Press reports that a Houthi delegation traveled from San’a to Muscat on Sunday. The reasons behind the visit are unclear, but is likely related to a recently proposed peace deal. US Secretary of State John Kerry will also be arriving in Muscat on November 14 to speak with officials.
An editorial in the Guardian calls for an end to Yemen’s war and a block of continued weapons transfers to Saudi Arabia. The article points out the absurdity and hypocrisy of American and British policy in the conflict:
“Half of the $115bn (£92bn) worth of weapons sales agreed under the Obama administration are still in the pipeline. Meanwhile, its ambassador to the UN, Samantha Power, has urged Riyadh to halt indiscriminate strikes. The UK, which has licensed £3.3bn worth of sales since the Yemen conflict began, boasts of increasing aid by £37m. The pledge would be laughable if it was not so shameful. By August, the damage caused by war already stood at an estimated $14bn. The aid will go only a short way to repairing that – and no sum can restore lost limbs or revive the dead.”
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."
Hostilities escalated earlier this week in the village of al-Sarari in Ta’iz governorate, with reports of violent clashes that led to a recapture of the area by pro-government forces from the Houthis.
Monday, July 18Two car bombs struck military checkpoints in the southern port city of Mukalla, killing between five and ten people and wounding many more. The attack was claimed by Al-Qaeda.
On the second day of peace talks following a break for Eid, UN Special Envoy to Yemen Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed met separately with warring sides. On Sunday, President Hadi warned that his government would boycott the talks if Ould Cheikh Ahmed insisted on a roadmap stipulating a unity government that included the Houthis.
A Huffington Post article by Rasha Jarhum sheds light on the underrepresentation of women in Yemen’s peace talks, and the effect this imbalance will have on the country’s future. There are only three women among the 26 negotiators at the talks despite an agreement at the NDC that women should make up at least 30% of negotiators. Because of their poor representation at talks, issues such as the protection of women and children in conflict and reparations for affected communities are not receiving proper attention.
Tuesday, July 19 The deterioration of Yemen’s economy is noticeably impacting daily life, as locals are frequently unable to afford basic goods such as food and fuel. The prices of these goods fluctuate and are dependent on the dropping value of the rial. Foreign importers have been unable to obtain the loans necessary to deliver food to Yemen, forcing the prices of staples like grain and wheat to surge. Meanwhile, health clinics have been unable to operate as medical supplies are unobtainable and foreign healthcare workers are fleeing the country.
Wednesday, July 20 Muftah published a series of articles on the problematic media landscape in Yemen, illustrating how the war has distorted or hindered reporting on the ground. Various journalists and academics specializing in Yemen collaborated on these pieces as part of a conference held by the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung’s Regional Office, Gulf States, in May.
An explosion in central Aden killed four soldiers and wounded six others in an attack claimed by the Islamic State group. Security officials and other witnesses said the blast was set off by a suicide bomber detonating an explosive vest.
Yemen's Central Bank Governor Mohammed bin Hammam said a second round of transfers of bank funds abroad to facilitate imports would take place in the coming days. The first batch of transfers came earlier this year. The civil war has left importers unable to buy food stocks as over $200 million is stuck in banks.
Thursday, July 21 Kuwait issued an ultimatum to Yemen’s negotiating parties, saying that an agreement must be reached within the next 15 days or the delegations will need to leave the country.
“We have given 15 days for Yemeni sides taking part in the talks to resolve all the issues,” Kuwait’s deputy foreign minister Khalid al-Jarallah told Al Arabiya.
“If matters are not resolved within the 15 days, we have hosted them enough and consequently our brothers have to excuse us if we cannot continue hosting,” said al-Jarallah.
Friday, July 22 An analysis by Stratfor weighs the possible outcomes of the next, and ostensibly last, two weeks of negotiations. It seems unlikely that an agreement will be reached soon, as it would require both sides to make concessions. However, even if they do manage to strike a deal, that is no guarantee that militant factions on the ground would adhere to their decision.
“The actions of Houthi forces on the ground indicate that their leaders likely believe the talks will amount to nothing. A Houthi spokesperson issued an ultimatum July 19: Houthi border offensives will continue until Saudi airstrikes halt. And indeed, cross-border shelling by militants into Saudi Arabia's southern districts, including Jizan, have increased.”
The Wall Street Journal reports on the Saudi perspective on the war in Yemen. The piece quotes prominent Saudi commentator Jamal Khashoggi, who explains that Saudi Arabia is not under any significant domestic or military pressure to end the conflict, even though the coalition has so far failed to accomplish its goal of pushing the Houthis out of San’a.
“Yes, the war is expensive, but we should finish it well. If we stop it without getting San’a and disarming the Houthis, it will be a historical and military catastrophe,” warned Ibrahim al Marie, a retired Saudi colonel and a political strategist and commentator. “It would be a problem for the confidence between the government and the people, and the decision makers in the kingdom know this very well.”
The UK’s Foreign Office has been forced to retract statements to parliament which said ministers had assessed that Saudi Arabia was not in breach of international humanitarian law in Yemen.
The Foreign Office claimed that the incorrect statements, made by three different ministers, were errors and did not represent an attempt to mislead. The UK government is facing a court case arguing that it should ban arms sales to Saudi Arabia.
A car bomb exploded outside the Houthi-run Bilal mosque in San’a as worshippers were finishing prayers. No casualties were reported and no group has claimed responsibility.
Gulf News reports that an outbreak of dengue fever in Shabwa province has killed 27 people and infected approximately 3,000 others. Officials warn that the disease is spreading due to a lack of drugs and insecticide.
Saturday, July 23 Hadi’s government-in-exile says it will leave talks in Kuwait by early August with or without a deal. Yemen’s foreign affairs minister Abdul Malik Al-Mikhlafi added, “This is a last chance for peace. If [the Houthis and Saleh] waste it thinking that they can come to Kuwait to manoeuvre and waste time then they’re deluded.”
Sunday, July 24 General Mansour Al-Hasani told Okaz news that there has been an increased siege by Houthi forces on Ta’iz, blocking off all roads into the city and preventing anyone from entering to deliver food or aid.
Monday, June 27Three bomb attacks by the Islamic State group on Yemeni government forces killed 38 and wounded 24 in Mukalla on Monday, according to medics and security sources.
The first explosion occurred as an attacker detonated his suicide vest at a checkpoint near Mukalla, while the second blast was from a car bomb at the city’s military intelligence headquarters. The last was an improvised explosive device which went off as soldiers were preparing to break fast for Ramadan.
Representatives from the Houthi delegation and the Hadi government announced plans to suspend talks in Kuwait in time for Eid al-Fitr, the end of the holy month of Ramadan. They will reportedly return to talks in mid-July.
One of the negotiators, a minister in Hadi’s government said "the return to the talks is meant to save face after reaching a deadlock."
The deadlock he is likely referring to is the refusal of the Houthis to meet the demands of the Hadi government and UN Security Resolution 2216 which would require them to relinquish their seized weapons and territory before a unity government is formed.
Tuesday, June 28 A Saudi-led airstrike in Houthi-controlled Ta’iz killed upwards of 25 people, including at least 10 civilians, according to security officials. The strike also wounded eight civilians. Most of the victims were shoppers or storekeepers in the area.
A report by Reuters explains how the UAE’s role in Yemen has evolved from targeting the Houthis to implementing what some see as an effective new strategy in counterterrorism. The UAE has apparently proven itself to be one of America's most important allies in fighting Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.
“Retired General Anthony Zinni, former chief of U.S. Central Command, told Reuters the UAE was ‘a top military’ in the region and ‘exponentially more capable than its size might indicate...It has also shown the ability to hang in there despite casualties ... (The UAE) has proven its willingness to fight alongside the U.S. and coalitions.’”
Wednesday, June 29 Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International are calling for the removal of Saudi Arabia from the United Nations Human Rights Council due to the country’s “gross and systematic violations of human rights.” The groups accuse Saudi Arabia of obstructing justice for possible war crimes and demand that the country’s membership be revoked until it ends its “unlawful attacks in Yemen.”
Both groups, among a number of other organizations, have documented violations of humanitarian and international law committed by the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen, including the targeting of civilian areas and the use of internationally-banned cluster bombs.
Peace talks in Kuwait, which started two months ago, adjourned for two weeks for Eid al-Fitr, and are set to resume on July 15.
"The two delegations will use the coming two weeks to meet their respective leaderships," UN Special Envoy to Yemen Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed said in a statement.
"(They) will then return to Kuwait with practical recommendations on how to implement the necessary mechanisms that will enable them to sign a peace accord and thus end the conflict in Yemen."
Thursday, June 30 In response to the demand by Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International that Saudi Arabia be suspended from the UN’s Human Rights Council, Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to the council Faisal Trad said that his country is “keen” to abide by international law and assist humanitarian organizations.
"With regard to Yemen, Saudi Arabia and the coalition (are) keen to abide by international humanitarian law and apply the highest international rules of engagement which corresponds with international regulations," Ambassador Trad wrote.
Saudi Arabia was recently charged in a UN report with being the group responsible for the highest number of child deaths in Yemen in the past year, but was quickly removed after Saudi officials threatened to withdraw funding from UN-sponsored programs if it was not taken off the blacklist.
The Houthis and Hadi’s government have exchanged a total of more than 700 prisoners, including more than 50 children, since the start of the peace talks two months ago, the UN special envoy for Yemen said. Most of these prisoner exchanges have been coordinated by local and tribal officials. Details of each exchange, including the number released by each side, was not provided.
Friday, July 1 The Obama administration released on Friday internal estimates showing that up to 116 civilians have been killed during US strikes against suspected terrorists in the past seven years. The estimates, which have not previously been released, include strikes by manned and unmanned aircraft outside combat zones, such as Yemen, Pakistan, Somalia, and Libya. Estimates by independent organizations of civilian casualties as a result of such strikes place the death toll much higher.
The number of civilians killed in strikes in Iraq, Syria, and Afghanistan were not announced by the government. Between 2,372 and 2,581 so-called “combatants” were killed in the non-combat zones over the same period.
The report comes as security officials and Yemeni tribesmen say that at least three suspected al-Qaeda militants were killed in a drone strike in Shabwa on Thursday.
Saturday, July 2 Seven Houthi fighters and three pro-government forces were killed in clashes in Nihm district, east of San’a, according to security officials.
Houthi-run Yemen News Agency said the violence erupted when Houthi forces "repulsed an attempt by pro-government forces to advance to Yam Mount, east of Nihm district.”
Al Jazeera reports on the 200,000 civilians impacted by the 15-month-long Houthi siege on Ta’iz. The city is experiencing a severe shortage of food, water, fuel, and medical supplies. Thirty-seven out of the 40 hospitals in Ta’iz have been forced to close and aid organizations say they are regularly prevented from delivering essential supplies to the city.
Sunday, July 3 Mareb Press reports that Yemen’s government has announced that, in the case of the Kuwait talks failing, peace will be imposed by force. Meanwhile, a prominent member of the Houthi delegation foresees a military escalation in the coming days.
“Spokesman for the Yemeni government Rajeh Badi said in an interview with Al Jazeera that the Houthi militias and forces loyal to ousted president Ali Abdullah Saleh only understand the language of force, adding that the Yemeni government realized that the Houthis only came to Kuwait to legitimize the coup.”
A member of the Houthi delegation reportedly expects the military escalation during Eid al-Fitr, which would "aim to undo the progress of the Kuwait talks."
Monday, June 13A suspected US drone strike in central Shabwa province killed three alleged Al-Qaeda fighters, according to Yemeni security officials. The officials also said that UAE and Saudi forces were simultaneously conducting raids on homes of suspected al-Qaeda operatives in Mukalla and reportedly detained 150 suspects.
Tuesday, June 14 Due to the ongoing intense fighting in Ta’iz, medical facilities run by Medecins Sans Frontieres have reportedly treated 1,624 people, including over 700 civilians, since the ceasefire began in April.
Will Turner, MSF head of mission, recalled seeing in an MSF emergency room “two young children lying in beds next to each other. The boy had been hit by a bullet in the neck as he left the mosque; the girl next to him had her stomach ripped open by a bullet as she waited to collect water.” Turner added that “Such tragic stories occur on a daily basis in Ta’iz. This is totally unacceptable.”
Saudi Ambassador Abdallah Al-Mouallimi sent a letter to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon requesting the sources that were used to create the report that initially listed the Saudi-led coalition as being responsible for the majority of child casualties in Yemen during the last year.
“Mouallimi's letter to Ban expressed ‘his sincere appreciation for the removal’ of the coalition from the blacklist and reaffirmed what he said was its respect for, and compliance with, international humanitarian and human rights law.”
UN officials said they did not believe it was possible to disclose sources used to create the report, but human rights abuses and violations of international humanitarian law by the coalition, including the targeting of schools and hospitals and indiscriminate bombing of residential areas, have been documented by a number of humanitarian organizations.
Wednesday, June 15 According to a tweet by Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, the UAE’s Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash had given a speech saying the “war [in Yemen] is over for our troops.”
The Arabic version of the same quote said that the war was over “for practical purposes.”
Yemeni security officials also reported on Wednesday that fighting between the Houthis and pro-government forces around Ta’iz and in Shabwa, Jawf, and Marib provinces killed at least 48 people and wounded 65 in the previous day.
The UN Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs released Yemen’s health overview for 2016. The report states that at least 50% of the country’s health facilities are not functioning properly or at all and only 30% of necessary medical supplies are being allowed to enter Yemen. The war is also disproportionately affecting pregnant women, people suffering from chronic diseases, and children under five (whose mortality rate has increased by 23% since the start of the conflict).
Of the $182.3 million in aid money that the UNOCHA needs immediately to assist victims of the conflict, only 16% has been funded.
UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric rejected the Saudi-led coalition’s request to view the sources of information used in the report on violations of children's rights during armed conflicts, which charged the coalition as being responsible for the majority of child deaths in Yemen in the past year.
"Protecting the sources of information that are used in this report, or any other report, is paramount, especially in a conflict area," Dujarric said. "But we obviously welcome any information that the Saudi-led coalition may want to share with us."
Thursday, June 16 The US House failed to pass a measure that would have banned the transfer of cluster bombs to Saudi Arabia. The vote was close, however, indicating a decrease in support for the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen.
The White House placed a hold last month on a transfer of CBU-105 cluster bombs, but a bipartisan group of lawmakers, including Senators Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) and Rand Paul (R-Ky.), is trying to place a complete arms embargo on the kingdom until it stops deliberately targeting civilians in Yemen.
Friday, June 17 UAE Foreign Minister Gargash denied saying that the war in Yemen is over for UAE troops. Gargash later claimed that his statement, which was posted on Twitter by Deputy Supreme Commander of UAE forces and Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohamed bin Zayed, was “taken out of context and misinterpreted for external agenda that seek to undermine the region and the GCC in particular.”
The US military is extending the deployment of anti-terrorism special forces units in Yemen for the foreseeable future. US officials said the team of about a dozen men, who were first deployed in April, would assist troops from the UAE in fighting Al-Qaeda around Mukalla.
Saturday, June 18 Nearly 200 prisoners were swapped in Ta’iz--118 Houthis exchanged for 76 pro-government fighters--in what is reportedly the largest swap to take place in the city since the beginning of the war. Like prior prisoner exchanges, it was arranged by local groups, not high-level officials in Kuwait.
Monday, June 6According to UN Special Envoy to Yemen, Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed, Yemen's warring parties agreed to the unconditional release of all child prisoners. There was no immediate word on how many children are held prisoner by either side. The announcement comes following the UN's annual report on children and armed combat, which detailed abuses by all sides of Yemen's conflict. The parties have so far failed to reach an agreement on a wider prisoner release for the month of Ramadan.
Saudi Arabia unleashed harsh criticism of the UN following the inclusion of the kingdom in an annual report on children in armed combat, which named the Saudi-led coalition as the side responsible for most of the child casualties in Yemen in the past year. Saudi coalition spokesman Brigadier General Ahmed al-Asiri said that the findings were based on inadequate evidence supplied by Saudi Arabia’s adversaries.
Medecins Sans Frontieres reported that its hospitals in Ta’iz received 122 people on June 3 alone following intense fighting and continuous shelling in the war-torn city.
Tuesday, June 7 Following protests by Saudi officials of the UN’s decision to blacklist the coalition in Yemen, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon removed Riyadh from the report. The UN said it would carry out a review of the accusations, but the Saudi envoy to the UN called the decision “final.”
The reversal was a result of Saudi Arabia threatening to sever ties with the UN and withdraw hundreds of millions of dollars in humanitarian assistance and counterterrorism programs.
Human rights groups condemned the removal of the Saudi-led coalition from the report, with Amnesty International saying it is “unconscionable that this pressure was brought to bear by one of the very states listed in the report,” while Human Rights Watch accused the UN of “capitulating to the demands of Saudi Arabia,” adding that the move “undermines Ban’s human rights initiatives and taints his legacy.”
Also on Tuesday, Saudi Arabia reportedly released 54 child prisoners between the ages of 8 and 17 to Yemen government forces. The children were captured during fighting with the Houthis. The move is intended to show that Yemen’s government and the Saudi-led military coalition “reject the Houthi crime of using children in war.”
Wednesday, June 8 Yemen was named in the 2016 Global Peace Index as the country that experienced the most rapid decline in peacefulness within the past year. Although it still ranks higher than Syria, which is at the bottom of the list, Yemen’s peacefulness was estimated to have dropped 15% within one year, more than any other nation.
The report found Yemen had suffered its biggest losses as a result of increases in death from conflict and “a massive rise in the number of refugees and internally-displaced people.”
Thursday, June 9 Commenting on the removal of the Saudi-led coalition from the UN blacklist, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said he had to consider “the very real prospect that millions of other children would suffer grievously if, as was suggested to me, countries would defund many U.N. programs.”
The programs that would have been impacted include humanitarian assistance in South Sudan, the Palestinian territories, and Syria.
Mr. Ban said he stood by the annual report’s conclusions, but added that, “it is unacceptable for member states to exert undue pressure. Scrutiny is a natural and necessary part of the work of the United Nations.”
Friday, June 10 A Reuters report outlines the essential policies implemented by the Central Bank of Yemen, and its governor Mohammed Bin Humam, that have saved the country from total financial collapse.
"The CBY represents the last bastion of the financial system in the impoverished country and is effectively running the economy, according to central bank officials, foreign diplomats and Yemeni political sources on both sides of the war."
Despite the bank’s best efforts and practices, Yemen’s exports have ceased and it is running critically low on foreign exchange reserves.
The UN human rights office condemned a week of rocket and mortar attacks on markets and residential areas in Ta’iz that resulted in the death of 18, including seven children, and injured 68 others.
“All victims belonged to a marginalized community, the Muhamasheen, and had taken refuge in the school after having been forced to flee their homes due to ongoing violence,” the spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights said.
Saturday, June 11 A short piece by Al Jazeera highlights the “immeasurable” crisis that Yemenis are facing during the holy month of Ramadan. With high temperatures and scarce electricity, along with a lack of food and water, Yemenis are fasting under extremely difficult circumstances.
“‘This could be the worst year in the history of Yemen, especially with the start of the holy month of Ramadan,’ Abdesalam al-Mahtoury, an economic analyst, said.”
Monday, April 25The port city of Mukalla, which has been controlled by al-Qaeda for over a year, was recaptured on Monday by Saudi and UAE forces and local Yemeni fighters. The coalition forces claimed to have killed 800 al-Qaeda militants in the first hour of fighting in south Yemen, but these numbers are highly disputed. The campaign, however, does mark an unprecedented push by the coalition to expel the group from their southern Yemen strongholds. Reporting on this expulsion, pro-Houthi outlet Al-Masirah accused the coalition of using the fight against terrorism as a pretext to launch an operation that in fact aims to gain control of southern Yemen.
The body of Omar Mohammed Batawil, a young man from Aden who was abducted from his home on Sunday, was found with gunshot wounds in Sheikh Osman district on Monday. Batawil had received death threats and accusations of atheism because of comments "critical of religion" that he posted on Facebook.
Tuesday, April 26 Houthi representatives and the Hadi government agreed on Tuesday on an agenda for the UN-brokered peace talks in Kuwait. Previous differences over the agenda had initially prevented the negotiations from taking place.
Wednesday, April 27 UK Foreign Office Minister Tobias Ellwood has said that the Saudi inquiry into their own bombing campaign has been “frustratingly slow,” and that the Saudi government needs to admit to any mistakes made. “Ministers also said that they would not revoke any of the UK’s multi-billion arms exports licences to Saudi Arabia until the Saudi government has completed the report into repeated specific allegations that it has been bombing civilians indiscriminately.”
Thursday, April 28 A suicide car bomb targeted the home of Aden security chief Shelal Ali Shayyeh on Thursday. The police chief was not harmed in the attack, but two people were reportedly wounded after guards fired at the car, which then exploded.
Both the Hadi government and the Houthis began discussing key issues on Thursday following the approval by both parties of the agenda for the peace talks. "Besides discussing ways to firm up an ongoing cease-fire, delegates also tackled 'the issues related to the withdrawal of armed groups, handover of heavy weapons, resumption of the political transition and the release of prisoners and detainees,' UN envoy Ould Cheikh Ahmed said in a statement."
Friday, April 29 Following Thursday’s attempted assassination of police chief Shelal Ali Shayyeh, an unidentified gunman fatally shot Colonel Marwan Abdulhalim on Friday in central Aden.
Saturday, April 30 Direct talks began on Saturday between the Houthi and Hadi government delegations. This is the first time the opposing parties have met face-to-face, as most of the negotiations up until this point were conducted by UN envoy Ould Cheikh Ahmed.
Houthi spokesperson Mohammed Abdul-Salam said on Saturday that Saudi Arabia has handed over 40 prisoners as part of an agreement to quell border fighting. Twenty of those released had been captured in Yemen.
Thousands of residents reportedly marched in Ta’iz to call for enforcement of the ceasefire and an end to the country’s fighting. Hundreds were also said to have marched in Zinjibar to demand the withdrawal of al-Qaeda.
Sunday, May 1 During the direct negotiations, the Houthi and Hadi government delegations each presented their views on ending the conflict. The Houthis reportedly called for a political solution to be reached before UN resolution 2216 could be implemented, which requires the Houthis to hand over weapons and withdraw from seized territory. The Hadi government is said to see this move as another attempt by the Houthis to evade a resolution that would require them to give up their arms.
The Houthis reportedly seized Umaliqa base in Amran governorate north of San'a at dawn on Sunday. The Houthi forces stormed the base and seized its weapons. A number of the base's soldiers were killed during the assault. Abdel-Malek al-Mekhlafi, Hadi’s foreign minister and top delegate to the negotiations, said the move has "torpedoed" the talks. The Hadi government suspended direct talks shortly thereafter, but said that representatives would remain in Kuwait to conduct indirect talks with the Houthis.
Aden’s security chief Shelal Ali Shayyeh was the target of a second assassination attempt in less than a week after a car bomb in front of a government building in the city’s central square exploded on Sunday, killing four soldiers and wounding eight others. Shayyeh was not harmed in either attack.
Houthi forces surrounding Ta‘iz have been reportedly denying entry to aid vehicles and confiscating food and medical supplies from civilians. Human Rights Watch has documented a number of instances, some dating back to at least September, of the Houthis stopping Ta‘iz residents at checkpoints surrounding the city and confiscating fuel, food, medicine, and clothing. Medical aid trucks belonging to the World Health Organization and Médecins Sans Frontières have been turned away from Ta‘iz, preventing the delivery of essential medical supplies, such as oxygen tanks and vaccinations. These practices constitute a violation of international humanitarian law and have had grave consequences for the residents of Ta‘iz. One hospital reported that six premature infants have died in the last two months because the hospital lacks the oxygen tanks and generators necessary to run their incubators.
“The Houthis are denying necessities to residents of Ta‘iz because they happen to be living in areas that opposition forces control,” said Joe Stork, deputy Middle East director. “Seizing property from civilians is already unlawful, but taking their food and medical supplies is simply cruel.”
Although Houthi forces surround Ta‘iz and maintain checkpoints outside of the city, opposition forces commanded by Shaykh Hamud al-Mikhlafi--including the Sunni Islah party and salafi groups--control the city center.
Ta‘iz has been subjected to indiscriminate shelling and some of the heaviest ground fighting in the conflict, forcing two-thirds of its population to flee while the remaining residents are in desperate need of food and medical aid.