According to a report by the Sana’a Center for Strategic Studies, US military assistance and counterterrorism policies in Yemen have destabilized the country and produced effects counter to US interests. US military aid to the Yemeni government, under both President Saleh and President Hadi, has allowed the presidents to undemocratically consolidate power through appointing family members and allies to military positions. It has also contributed to the current war in Yemen; the Houthi-Saleh alliance use weapons that the US gave to Yemen previously, and counterterrorism military aid to the government is often used to maintain the government’s fight against the Houthis. Meanwhile, counterterrorism efforts against AQAP are undermined by the continuing chaos of the war and by the government’s prioritization of the fight against the Houthis which, at times, leads to cooperation between the government and AQAP.
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.
Jacqueline Hazelton published a report in Lawfare magazine examining the merits of America's use of armed drones through the lens of the American grand strategy of restraint. The study is comprehensive, however it must be noted that due to the secrecy surrounding drone programs and the varying contexts in which drone strikes are carried out, it is difficult to empirically attribute public discontent and radicalization to drone strikes. While this is a limitation of study it is also Hazelton’s chief criticism of the US’ drone program. She argues that:
The State Department released its annual Country Reports on Terrorism report which provides a detailed analysis of terrorist groups and counterterrorism activities around the world. The report on Yemen notes that:
An article in the Washington Post analyzed the complicated relationship between the US and the UAE. The UAE’s desire for influence has driven it to enhance its international credibility by building up a sophisticated, capable military and increasing its involvement in conflicts. Much of the time, the UAE sides with the US: it leads in the fight against AQAP in Yemen and it has contributed troops in Western-backed conflicts such as in Somalia or Afghanistan. However, the UAE’s support for autocrats, its efforts in resisting peace, and its alleged illegal actions in conflict zones that risk US culpability have undermined the alliance between it and the US.
In a Chatham House article, Yemen expert Peter Salisbury warns that the flourishing war economy that sustains militia leaders, the Hadi government, and local stakeholders poses a threat to a diplomatic solution. Militia and political leaders fund their war efforts by taxing or establishing monopolies on resources. War has empowered militia leaders on all sides, and a peace process would strip these groups of their main source of authority.
Just Security published an op-ed today by YPP executive director Will Picard, warning of the dangers of a deal currently being negotiated in secret that could return former president Ali Abdullah Saleh to power. Saleh was ousted in late 2011, after a lengthy popular uprising and a schism within the regime. In 2014 he allied himself with the Houthi movement to orchestrate a coup, sparking the ongoing civil war in Yemen. While the UN-led peace process has stalled, it appears that that the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia are negotiating with Saleh's party to form a new government and end the Gulf states' military intervention. The new government would reportedly include Saleh's son and other members of the pro-Saleh branch of Yemen's ruling GPC party.
In an article in Just Security over the weekend, Stephen Seche and Eric Pelofsky provided recommendations to US policymakers regarding efforts to restart the peace process in Yemen, based on their meetings this month with Yemeni and Saudi officials in Riyadh. Stephen Seche, a former US ambassador to Yemen and the executive vice president of the Arab Gulf States Institute in Washington, and Eric Pelofsky, a visiting fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy and a former special assistant to the president and senior director for North Africa and Yemen at the National Security Council, warned that “today, there appears to be no viable path to peace in Yemen.” They pointed out several challenges, including internal tension between actors on both major sides of the conflict and Yemeni President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi’s refusal to endorse the UN Roadmap for Yemen as a basis for negotiation
The Project on Middle East Democracy (POMED) has released a report detailing the impact President Trump’s proposed budget will have on the Middle East and North Africa. Overall, the Trump administration’s budget request for FY18 proposes a 30% cut to foreign affairs funding. The budget is indicative of the Trump administration’s focus on the use of military force, with 80 percent of all foreign aid marked for military assistance. Humanitarian assistance faces a four percent funding cut, even as a number of conflicts spiral out of control and famine and disease ravage nations such as Yemen. The current budget requests only $35 million for Yemen, a nation that is currently dealing with massive food insecurity and the worst cholera crisis in the world. This represents a 37 percent decrease from FY17. According to the report, a decline in spending “may reduce the United States’ ability to respond to Yemen’s growing crisis.”
Search for Common Ground, an organization dedicated to conflict resolution, published a report outlining recommendations for securing peace in Yemen. The current conflict has deepened regional, political, religious, and tribal divisions, and has eroded the capacity of the centralized government to address disputes and needs. In the absence of state control, local organizations, such as civil society groups, have arisen to take responsibility. In order to establish peace and stability in Yemen, the international community must empower local leaders in their dispute resolution and peacebuilding efforts, which will facilitate social cohesion and bridge the divisions that prevent peace.