In Italy, the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR), the Yemen-based Mwatana Organization for Human Rights, and the Italian-based Rete Italiana per Il Disarmo jointly filed a criminal complaint in a public prosecutor's office. The complaint names both an Italian arms manufacturer and the Italian government agency that approves arms exports. The organizations want to prove that Italian weapons were used in an illegal airstrike in Yemen and investigate Italy’s criminal liability for the attack.
The Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO) recently released a plan of action to enhance food security in Yemen between 2018 and 2020. Right now, 17.8 million Yemenis are food insecure and 8.4 million are severely food insecure.
As part of a series of articles on international law and the war in Yemen, Just Security recently published a piece by several legal scholars regarding the War Crimes Act and the US federal statute on aiding and abetting. The authors conclude that US government personnel face limited legal risk of prosecution for aiding and abetting violations by the Saudi-led coalition under the War Crimes Act. It would likely be difficult to establish the requisite mens rea--proof of intent--due to the fact that US military support for the Saudi-led coalition is ostensibly accompanied by training on law-of-war compliance and civilian protection. This is debatable, however, because some observers argue that the deep, systemic problems in the Saudi military render it incapable of carrying out independent air operations without violating international humanitarian law principles. The applicability of these federal laws is important because, although other international venues exist for the prosecution of war crimes, the US generally will not allow foreign or international courts to try US officials or military personnel. The article concludes that another case, the participation of US personnel in the torture and abuse of detainees held by the UAE at sites in southern Yemen, would be easier to prosecute. Those US personnel face greater potential liability for violating the War Crimes Act by aiding and abetting UAE crimes.
In a February report published by the Project on Middle East Democracy (POMED), Nadwa Al-Dawsari describes the dynamics of the relationship between Yemeni tribes and al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP).
Peter Salisbury warns about growing southern autonomy in a new Chatham House report titled “Yemen’s Southern Powder Keg.” He urges the international community to integrate southern voices into the peace process. He classifies Yemen as a “chaos state,” which means it consists of warring mini-states. One such de-facto state is the south, which has gained greater autonomy as the war has progressed.
On January 26, the UN Panel of Experts on Yemen released its annual report on the conflict in Yemen. The report described several of the most significant events of the war in 2017, including the Houthis’ missile launch that landed near an airport in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, the dissolution of the Houthi-Saleh alliance in December, and the Houthis’ consolidation of control in northern Yemen.
In November, The Project on Middle East Political Science at George Washington University brought together scholars from Yemen, Europe, and the United States to discuss the situation in Yemen. This workshop produced a series of short papers that illustrate the fractional nature of Yemen’s war and contemplate the challenges behind any future negotiated settlement.
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.”
Human Rights Watch recommends that the UN Security Council impose asset freezes and travel bans on senior coalition officials, including Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, unless the coalition fully lifts its blockade on Yemen. The coalition is currently restricting humanitarian aid and commercial imports from reaching civilians living in Houthi-controlled territory. The blockade contributes to the massive humanitarian crisis, causing a fuel shortage and widespread food insecurity. These actions may amount to using starvation as a tool of warfare, a war crime under international law.