July 20-26: Houthis and coalition trade airstrikes, offshore oil tanker threatens to spill
Saturday, July 20
San’a was rocked by several powerful explosions following air raids by the Saudi-led coalition on Saturday. The strikes ostensibly targeted Houthi air defenses and ballistic missile sites. On the same day, the Houthis claimed to have carried out drone attacks on military targets at King Khalid Air Base in southwestern Saudi Arabia. According to Houthi spokesman Yahya Sarei, the drone attacks targeted radar installations and military positions at the air base near the city of Khamis Mushait. There was no comment from the Saudi-UAE coalition on the rebel claim.
The pro-Houthi Saba news agency reported that the Houthis havedeveloped new missiles and drones to use against the Saudi-led Coalition supporting the government. The weapons were unveiled at an exhibition on Sunday attended by Mahdi Al-Mashat, president of the rebel’s ruling council. The agency said the exhibition displayed “new models of ballistic and winged missiles and drones made in Yemen,” including the Quds-1 missile, the Samad-3 drone, and the Qasef-2K drone.
Monday, July 8
Save the Childrenreported Monday that the first six months of 2019, Yemen has seen more suspected cholera cases than in the whole of 2018. A total of 439,812 suspected cholera cases were so far identified with some 203,000 children among those affected. The ongoing rainy season exacerbates the situation, with flooding and downpours threatening to intensify the spread of the waterborne disease.
A new UN report released this weekend found that over 7,500 children have been killed or wounded in Yemen since the start of the war. The majority of these casualties were attributed to airstrikes, shelling, fighting, suicide attacks, and mines. The Secretary-General’s report said that the killings and injuries specifically were among 11,779 grave violations against children since the beginning of the conflict. Virginia Gamba, the UN special representative for children in conflict, commented, “the children of Yemen had nothing to do with the start of this conflict. They should now be given the opportunity to exit from it and be assisted to fully recover.”
A Houthi-laid mine in al-Jawf province killed two men and a child today, reports al-Masdar Online.
Another Houthi drone attack targeting Saudi Arabia's Abha Airport killed one Syrian resident and injured 21 other civilians from several different nations. The attack was the second in less than two weeks against the same Saudi airport. Ansar Allah claims the airport is used for military operations against Yemen, but publicly available flight data confirms that it is a civilian commercial airport serviced by a number of domestic airlines.
Tuesday, June 25
Saudi officials announced that Saudi and Yemeni special forces captured the leader of Islamic State’s branch in Yemen, Abu Osama Al-Muhajir, earlier this month. An American official speaking on anonymity confirmed that seizure took place on June 3rd in a raid aided by elite US forces and American intelligence. The Saudi statement made no mention of a US role in the capture.
The Houthi militia blocked a food shipment from the World Food Programme meant to feed 100,000 families. The Houthis ordered over 8,000 tons of food to leave the Red Sea port of Hodeidah, claiming it was contaminated with dead insects.
A UAE-funded project to improve water production capacity in Yemen was launched on Sunday in Yemen’s port city of al-Mokha. The new project by the Emirati Red Crescent in Yemen consists of two artesian wells connected to a generator and two storage tanks, and will be connected to the main water distribution network. The project is projected to allow water to be provided on a 24-hour basis.
Monday, June 17
World Food Program (WFP) chief David Beasley warned on Monday that a phased-suspension of food assistance in Yemen was likely to begin later this week over a diversion of aid and lack of independence in Houthi-controlled areas. The Houthis have been accused of diverting food and water aid supplies. Beasley called on the Houthis to “simply let us do our job” and immediately implement registration and monitoring agreements.
Commander of the Yemeni 4th Brigade, Mehran Al-Qubati, accused the United Arab Emirates of planning an “imminent coup” in Aden against President Hadi.
Al-Masirah, a Houthi propaganda agency, reported that Houthi drones targeted Saudi drone facilities at Jizan International Airport, which al-Masirah claims has been converted into a military airbase. Saudi Arabian air defense forces intercepted two of the Houthi aircraft.
Monday, June 10 A woman and her three daughters were injured when a Houthi shell struck their home in northern Ta’iz today, al-Masdar Online reports.
The Houthis have agreed to unilaterally remove their forces from the ports of al-Hudaydah, Salif, and Ras Isa between May 11 and May 14. Many observers are sceptical of the promise, given the Houthis’ previous failures to follow through on this aspect of the Stockholm Agreements.
The UN is assessing possible damage to grain stored in the Red Sea Mills facility in Hudaydah following gunfire on Thursday. The National reports that the Houthis attacked the mills causing damage to one of the silos and the wheat stored in it.
Saturday, May 11
A Yemeni government minister has said that the Houthis’ handover of the three main ports in Hudaydah is a “show” meant to “disinform the international community.” Last year the Houthis staged a similar withdrawal of the port of Hudaydah, before it was discovered that the Coast Guard forces the Houthis had handed the port to were, in fact, also Houthi fighters. Journalist Baseem al-Jenani notes that this marks the third time in six months that the Houthis have announced their withdrawal from Hudaydah in accordance with the Stockholm Agreement
The Security Council has approved 75 observers to join the monitoring mission in Hudaydah as part of the Stockholm agreement. However, there are currently only 15 observers in Hudaydah while the others are waiting on visas. The observers were intended to monitor the implementation of the deal and assess conditions on the ground, tasks the mission cannot carry out without adequate staffing.
A roadside bomb believed to have been planted by al-Qaeda killed six civilians in al-Qatn village in Hadhramawt. This is the second attack in less than a week by al-Qaeda in the village. AQAP is active in several provinces in south and eastern Yemen.
Emirati officials say that the UAE is planning to diversify their distribution of aid in order to further their reach. The UAE will continue to use organisations outside of the UN-coordinated humanitarian response in providing aid. The UAE identifies food programmes and cholera prevention as top priorities. UN agencies and NGOs have criticized the UAE and Saudi Arabia throughout the conflict for refusing to pay into the UN’s pooled fund for Yemen, and for politicizing their humanitarian projects.
Saturday, May 4
Arab News reports that Saudi Arabia has launched new border security patrols in Saudi Arabia’s Najran Province, which borders Yemen’s al-Jawf and Sa’dah Governorates. US special forces soldiers are known to be assisting with border security; if US troops are involved in joint patrols, there will be an increase in the likelihood of direct US-Houthi clashes, which could escalate the conflict significantly.