Morocco recalled its ambassador to Saudi Arabia and has withdrawn from the Saudi-led coalition. Saudi Arabia broadcasted a documentary calling Western Sahara “occupied” by Morocco after Morocco’s minister of foreign affairs told Al Jazeera that Morocco’s participation in the Yemen war had changed due to humanitarian reasons. Ties between the two nations have deteriorated since the rise of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and the worsening of the conflict in Yemen.
Saudi state TV reports that the Saudi-led coalition has launched a “targeting operation”--an apparent euphemism for airstrikes--in San’a. The target location was allegedly an area for storing and preparing drones and launch vehicles.
The World Health Organization says 35,000 Yemenis have cancer and 11,000 are diagnosed every year. However, cancer clinics have been been closing, and attaining access to healthcare is becoming increasingly difficult.
Saturday, February 9
The Trump administration did not meet the Friday deadline to report to the Senate on whether or not the White House believed Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman ordered the killing of Jamal Khashoggi.
Sunday, February 10
The Hadi government hopes to escalate its crude oil production to 110,000 barrels per day in 2019, with exports reaching about 75,000 bpd, its oil minister reported. In 2018, Yemen produced an average of 50,000 bpd. The oil minister also reported that Yemen wanted to resume production of liquid natural gas.
Monday, February 11
The UN reports that the grain stored in the Red Sea Mills silos in Hudaydah is at risk of rotting. Aid workers have not had access to the Red Sea Mills facility for five months due to coalition military operations and Houthi landmines, and the urgency of accessing the grain grows every day.
Fighting between government forces and Houthi rebels in Yemen’s southern province of al-Dhali’ has continued for a third day. The fighting was prompted after the Houthis destroyed the house of the tribal sheikh Abdul Jaleel Al Hothaiyfi for allegedly working with the Saudi-led coalition.
Fighting has also escalated in the northern province of Hajjah between the Houthis and the Hajoor tribe, worsening the humanitarian situation there. According to local observers, additional forces from a neighboring tribe have entered that conflict on the side of Hajoor.
The Trump Administration threatened to veto the re-introduction of the war powers resolution, H.J.Res.37, which would end US military support for the Saudi-led coalition, should it pass in both houses of Congress.
Tuesday, February 12
Al-Masdar Online reports that the UAE-backed Abu al-Abbas Brigade, kidnapped a human rights activist, Abu Baker al-Breiky, in Ta’iz governorate and handed him over to UAE forces in Aden. The UAE and its proxies have kidnapped, detained, and tortured hundreds of civilians in southern Yemen since 2015.
Wednesday, February 13
The House of Representatives voted to end American military assistance for the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen. The House resolution, H.J.Res.37, invokes the 1973 War Powers Act, which gives Congress the ability to restrict military deployments undertaken without a formal declaration of war. The Senate is expected to vote within the next month. H.J.Res.37 included an amendment introduced by Representative Buck (R-CO) that ensures that the US may continue intelligence collection, analysis, and sharing operations with other nations.
The Trump Administration will not certify to Congress that the Saudi-led coalition is attempting to reduce civilian casualties. Previously the State Department validated that the coalition had made a “good faith effort” to reduce civilian casualties, which allowed the United States to continue refueling operations. The certification, which was clearly at odds with evidence collected by observers on the ground, was a requirement imposed by lawmakers via the 2019 National Defense Authorization Act.
UK Foreign Minister Jeremy Hunt says that saving Yemen’s ceasefire has “a shortening window of opportunity.” The US, UK, UAE, and Saudi Arabia will discuss Yemen on the sidelines of a summit in Warsaw, possibly focusing on an initiative to inject money into Yemen’s central bank.
In Riyadh, the Joint Incidents Assessment Team (JIAT) concluded in its most recent round of investigations that coalition military operations in Yemen followed procedures that were proper and safe, and acted in accordance with international humanitarian law. JIAT, the coalition’s internal investigation mechanism, has been criticized since the start of the war by experts and human rights groups for whitewashing illegal actions by coalition forces.
Thursday, February 14
Robert Malley, a key advisor on the Middle East under the Obama Administration and now president and CEO of the International Crisis Group, told TRT World that the Obama Administration gave too much support to partner Saudi Arabia and that military support should have been scaled back much sooner. In response to H.J.Res.37, Malley stated that the US needs to find ways to minimize civilian casualties when drawn into conflict.
Fatima Qoba is a displaced 12 year old girl who was carried into a Yemeni malnutrition clinic at 10kg (22 lbs). Fatima’s situation is the latest example of the crisis occurring in Yemen with around 10 million people on the brink of famine. A doctor at the clinic told reporters about the problem of severely malnourished pregnant women who are expected to give birth to underweight children.
Houthi media reports that coalition airstrikes targeted a group of fishermen today in Hudaydah governorate. MSF confirmed that a local hospital treated several fishermen for injuries sustained in the attack.
The Daily Beast interviewed two ex-detainees who were held in the UAE’s prisons in southern Yemen. The report indicates that there was American involvement in the torture that occurred in the prisons. The Pentagon acknowledge that US military personnel operate in the prisons, but deny any knowledge of torture or abuse.
European representative for Yemen’s Southern Transitional Council, Ahmed bin Fareed, believes the inclusion of the South is crucial to peace talks. Citing the central role of Southern forces in the fight against the Houthis, Fareed writes that “without genuine inclusion and participation of all key legitimate actors, it is inconceivable that our constituency would accept the terms of a settlement that excludes them.”
Yemenis on social media are calling for justice after the Houthis sentenced Asmaa al-Omeissy and two others to death, in addition to being detained and tortured, because of their alleged association with the coalition. Amnesty International states that the Houthis are using the judiciary to settle political scores.
Sunday, February 3
Al-Masdar Online reports that a civilian was killed by Houthi shelling today in southern Hudaydah governorate. Additionally, two women and two children were killed by Houthi shelling of an IDP camp today in Hajjah governorate; the report states that this is the second attack by the group on this camp.
Monday, February 4
An outbreak of the swine flu was recently detected, with 419 reported cases and 86 deaths so far. Health centers are running out of medicine and many people are unable to access health centers because of the war.
Reporter Fuad Rajeh reports that the Houthis will try Yemen country manager of Saferworld, Awfa Al-Naami, on charges of “harming national security.” Al-Naami was detained on Monday, January 28.
Graham Jones, Labour MP and the most senior parliamentarian overseeing Britain’s arms control regime, stated that NGO’s claims about civilian deaths in Yemen from airstrikes were exaggerated. He also claimed that the primary blame for the war was with Iran and that NGOs misunderstand the region’s problems.
Faculty at Hadhramawt University are protesting because the university has not upheld its financial obligations. The faculty have previously gone on strike but their demands have thus far been ignored.
Clashes broke out in the Old City of Aden today between pro-government forces and an unspecified group of gunmen, according to Aden al-Ghad.
Tuesday, February 5
Amnesty International accused the United Arab Emirates of supplying unaccountable militias with weapons purchased from western states, including the United States. Some of these militias have ties to AQAP or other extremist groups. The transfer of US arms to third parties violates the end-use agreements mandated by all US arms sales. The YPP raised the issue of illegal arms diversion with State and Defense Department officials in April 2018, but officials denied any knowledge of such practices.
An investigation by CNN found that the Saudi-led coalition has transferred US-manufactured weapons to unaccountable third parties. In doing so, US-manufactured weapons have come into the possession of extremist groups and Iranian-backed rebels. A US defense official confirmed there was an ongoing investigation following CNN’s reports.
Houthi-run news channel al-Masirah says that the Houthi delegation in Amman have proposed a prisoner release of 400 individuals from both parties to the conflict, and are waiting on a response from Riyadh. This proposal comes despite the agreement by both parties to release all prisoners as part of the recent Stockholm Agreements.
In San’a, Mothers of Abductees protested outside the Houthi detention center where a number of civilians are being held. The association claims that the Houthis are denying medical access to the prisoners. They are appealing to the UN and the UN special envoy to secure their release.
Wednesday, February 6
The House Foreign Affairs Committee voted to send the war powers resolution, H.J.Res.37, to the full chamber of a vote. The resolution would require President Trump to withdraw US forces from the war in Yemen. A companion bill passed the Senate last December, and has been reintroduced in the upper chamber as well. The House Rules Committee will consider the bill shortly; a vote on the House floor is expected within the month.
Government forces reopened the Dhubab Road, the primary entrance to the city of Ta’iz, after it had been blocked by a rival local militia. Most other entrances into the city are still blocked by Houthi forces, which have maintained a siege on the city since 2015. The Dhubab entrance is crucial to the survival of the city’s inhabitants; it is often closed by militias as part of the ongoing power struggles between anti-Houthi groups.
Oxfam reports that Yemen’s food shortage has left 1.1 million childbearing women malnourished and that there is evidence that child marriage is rising so families can buy food.
According to al-Masdar Online, the real estate sector in Yemen is experiencing an unusual boom, in contrast with other sectors of the Yemeni economy. According to the article, this may be due to a large number of Yemeni expatriates returning from Saudi Arabia, as well as money laundering operations and internal displacement of Yemenis from Houthi-controlled areas to those controlled by the government.
Saudi Arabia’s King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center (KSRelief), launched projects to create and support jobs in the Tarim area of Wadi Hadhramawt. KSRelief has been criticized by NGOs in the past for placing restrictions and conditions on aid funding, in violation of UN requirements.
Thursday, February 7
Senators Menendez (D-NJ) and Young (R-IN) announced a new resolution, the “Saudi Arabia Accountability and Yemen Act of 2019.” The bill would prohibit arms transfers to Saudi Arabia, prohibit refueling of coalition aircraft, require the US government to present a strategy for ending the war in Yemen, and place sanctions on individuals responsible for blocking humanitarian aid, among other measures.
Following three days of talks, Yemen’s warring parties have reached a preliminary compromise regarding the ceasefire in Hudaydah. The compromise will undergo further consultation, and talks are expected to continue next week in order to finalize details. The UN did not give further information on the agreement.
Negotiations over the UN-sponsored prisoner exchange between the warring parties in Yemen could drag on for months. Both parties have failed to recognize or confirm all of the prisoners named on their opponents’ lists.
Southern news outlet Aden al-Ghad reports that the Houthis are using their all-female auxiliary force, the Zaynabiyat, to abduct women in San’a, a practice which has increased over the past few days.
Al-Masdar Online reports that according to local sources, Houthi gunmen attacked a village in central al-Baydha province, abducting a number of people.
The Center for American Progress announced that it would no longer accept funding from the United Arab Emirates. Funding from the UAE ranged between $500,000 and $1m. This decision came about due to increasing public scrutiny of authoritarian governments’ financial support for think tanks in Washington.
Saturday, January 26
Though most European leaders have been reluctant to join the US-organized summit on confronting Iranian aggression, UK foreign secretary Jeremy Hunt has agreed to attend on the condition that the US, UAE, and Saudi Arabia also participate in talks about Yemen during the summit.
Wheat silos in Hudaydah have been damaged in a fire caused by suspected mortar shelling. The World Food Programme needs access to the mills to assess the damage, however, the WFP has not had access since September. The Houthis and the Saudi-led coalition both deny responsibility.
Pro-coalition sources report that Houthi forces shelled an IDP camp in Hajjah, killing seven displaced civilians.
Monday, January 28
The Guardian reported that UN Special Envoy Martin Griffiths said that the deadline for the withdrawal of Houthi troops from Hudaydah had been extended. Griffiths expressed that the timeline for the UN-brokered deal, which included a ceasefire in Hudaydah, the withdrawal of all forces from the governorate’s three ports, and a prisoner exchange, was ambitious. Additionally, the agreed prisoner exchanges have not yet been implemented.
On Monday evening, Gulf News reported that a Houthi bomb attack in al-Mokha killed six civilians and injured 20.
Wednesday, January 30
Reuters reported that the Houthis released a Saudi prisoner, who was repatriated by the ICRC. In response, Saudi Arabia released seven Houthi prisoners.
A bipartisan group of lawmakers in Washington announced in a press conference the reintroduction of resolutions invoking the War Powers Act, which would end American military support for the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen. If passed, the legislation will likely prompt a veto from President Donald Trump.
US Representatives Lieu, Yoho, and Malinowski introduced a bill in the House of Representatives to prohibit US refueling support for coalition air missions in Yemen.
A bipartisan group of US senators, some of whom have voted against previous efforts to limit US support for the Saudi-led coalition, introduced the “Saudi Arabia Accountability and Yemen Act of 2019” as an amendment (S.A.69) to Senate Resolution 1, a bill on security assistance to Israel and Jordan. The amendment includes a prohibition on arms sales to Saudi Arabia, a prohibition on refueling for coalition air missions, and new sanctions on any party obstructing humanitarian assistance. The amendment also calls on government agencies to review US security assistance to Saudi Arabia and investigate war crimes in Yemen, and imposes sanctions on those responsible for the murder of Saudi dissident Jamal Khashoggi.
Thursday, January 31
Saudi-owned Al Arabiya television reported that the Saudi-led coalition attacked a storage site for drones east of San’a.
Martin Griffiths concluded his visits to Riyadh, San’a, and Hudaydah, during which he discussed the importance of implementing the Stockholm Agreements with Saudi, Yemeni, and Houthi leaders.
ACLED recorded at least 267 fatalities since 2016 as a result of Houthi-planted mines and IEDs that are largely unmapped. Casualties from mines have gradually increased, and December 2018 and January 2019 were recorded as the deadliest months since ACLED began recording violent events in Yemen. This increase can be attributed to the offensive launched by Emirati-backed forces in Hudaydah. The use of explosive devices is also adversely affecting economic activity by destroying grazing lands and threatening commercial shipping and fishing.
A recent report by the NGO coalition Control Arms UK called for greater oversight and accountability for UK arms sales to Saudi Arabia and other states involved in conflict. The British government, between 2015 and 2017, authorized 18,107 open license deliveries of arms and dual-purpose equipment to Saudi Arabia; current regulations do not require the UK government to disclose details of what each delivery includes or what its intended use is.
According to government sources, 37 civilians were killed and 312 injured by Houthi violations of the Hudaydah ceasefire agreement since it was put in place on December 18. The government is calling on Martin Griffiths to pressure the Houthis into complying with the ceasefire.
Reporter Baseem al-Jenani, meanwhile, tweeted that medical sources say 27 civilians were killed or injured in the city of Hudaydah by Houthi vehicles.
Sunday, January 13
The Guardian reports that the Houthis have threatened to continue drone strikes after the attack on a military base in Lahij province last week.
Independent journalist Baseem al-Jenani reported that four factory workers were injured in al-Hudaydah when their factory was shelled. He also described Houthi practices in Hudaydah of repressing local community organizations and NGOs and looting their assets.
Sunday, January 6
President Trump has confirmed that Jamal al-Badawi, one of the al-Qaeda operatives responsible for the 2000 attack on the USS Cole in Yemen, was killed in an airstrike in Marib Governorate on January 1.
Monday, January 7
The UN Secretary General's report was released on the implementation of the Stockholm Agreements as of today. The report notes that the Houthis have delayed the opening of key roads, and mutual ceasefire violations have been reported but not verified by the UN. Meanwhile, the Houthis have also failed to issue visas and clearances for UN personnel and equipment intended for Hudaydah. Meetings continue to be held with both sides.
The International Crisis Group published a report which called on US officials to take advantage of the leverage generated by the advancement of Senate Joint Resolution 54 to pressure the Saudi-led coalition to pause the fighting in al-Hudaydah and give peace talks a chance to succeed.
UN Envoy to Yemen Martin Griffiths pushed back the timeline for peace talks in Yemen, estimating that “they will try to bring them together by the end of the year.” This setback is concurrent with the renewed offensive on al-Hudaydah by the Saudi-led coalition.
Defense Secretary Mattis requested that “all parties” of the conflict in Yemen “take part in UN-led peace talks within the next thirty days.” Secretary of State Pompeo also came forward, urging “the Saudi-led coalition battling the rebel Houthi movement to end its air strikes on populated areas” in exchange for an end to Houthi missile attacks on Saudi Arabia.
UNICEF warns that fighting around the key port of al-Hudaydah, in addition to Yemen’s economic crisis, continues to exacerbate the humanitarian situation, putting millions of families in a desperate situation without access to clean water, food, or sanitation.
The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs reported that over 3,000 families were affected by Cyclone Luban. About 2,203 families were displaced from their homes in the districts of al-Masilah, Sayhut, Huswain, Qishn, and al-Ghaydah City in al-Mahrah.
UN Special Envoy to Yemen Martin Griffiths is scheduled for a visit next Sunday to Ta’iz. Also in the works are plans for UN-sponsored meetings with the Yemeni government, Houthi representatives, and other regional and international actors in Nairobi in the near future.