Drone strikes have become an inevitable part of warfare over the past decade. However, accountability and transparency have not. According to the new report Out of the Shadows, the lack of transparency in US targeted killing operations increases ill will towards the United States, undermines the advancement of human rights and rule of law, and decreases American credibility. The harm this causes is counterproductive to American strategy abroad and causes untold amounts of human misery, and yet, a lack of accountability persists. While greater transparency is not a panacea to resolve these issues, it does matter to the families of the victims, to the voting public of the United States, and to international partners who rely on the United States.
Saferworld, along with the Center for Applied Research in Partnership with the Orient (CARPO) and the Yemen Polling Center (YPC), has released a report analyzing how the conflict in Yemen affects the lives of the country’s women. It finds that although the war brings great insecurity about livelihoods and security, many women feel empowered by their new roles in war efforts or peacebuilding, such as first aid, child protection, and psychosocial support. Despite restrictions and anxieties, Yemeni women have made important contributions to civil society. The report recommends that the international community support these women-led initiatives financially and institutionally.
The Sana’a Center for Strategic Studies has published an article attempting to accurately depict Iran’s involvement in the Yemeni conflict. The author, Farea al-Muslimi, points out that, while Iran is in fact supporting the Houthis in some capacity, the Saudi response has been disproportionate compared to the scale of Iranian commitment. He argues that Iran’s support for the Houthis is an attempt to force the Saudis into yet another conflict, thereby weakening the Saudi government’s military and financial capacity as a whole.
The United Nations Security Council released a presidential statement today regarding the conflict and humanitarian crisis in Yemen. The statement expresses concern about the humanitarian impact of the conflict, highlighting the cholera epidemic and the risk of famine. It calls on all parties to the conflict to adhere to international humanitarian law, emphasizing the importance of distinguishing between civilians and combatants in selecting targets, of allowing unhindered access for the distribution of humanitarian aid, and of ending the recruitment and use of child soldiers.
The Just Security forum urges the United States to reconsider its support to the United Arab Emirates’ operations in Yemen due to concerns over apparent violations of international humanitarian and human rights law. Rahma A. Hussein, a human rights lawyer and writer for Just Security, states in her recent report that the UAE’s actions in Yemen raise important legal and policy concerns. Another piece by Ryan Goodman and Alex Moorehead points that the UAE military and the UAE-backed forces have potentially violated international humanitarian law through enforced disappearances and the mistreatment of detainees.
On June 5th, the Sana’a Center for Strategic Studies published a policy brief containing a series of short-term recommendations as a part of their larger “Rethinking Yemen’s Economy” initiative. The Sana’a Center based the brief on the outcomes of a recent meeting of the Development Champions Forum, a group made up of Yemeni politicians and scholars, during the World Economic Forum in Amman, Jordan. The brief emphasizes the need for a varied international approach focused on stimulating the collapsed Yemeni economy. The recommendations are divided into three categories: the food security crisis, the insecurity of the banking sector, and the absence of basic public services.
A recent report from the Arab Gulf States Institute in Washington, authored by senior resident scholar Karen Young, discusses the Yemen civil war and its cost for Yemen’s Gulf neighbors, urging Gulf Cooperation Council states to end their contributions to the cycle of violence in Yemen. The report notes that the future cost of the ongoing war for Gulf states may be greater than GCC states anticipate due to the reverberations that civil wars tend to have in neighboring states. The author makes policy suggestions for GCC states that seek to minimize the impact of the war in Yemen both on Yemeni society and on Yemen’s neighbors.
Stephen O’Brien, the United Nations Under-Secretary General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, delivered a statement to the United Nations Security Council during last Tuesday’s Council meeting on Yemen. O’Brien spoke of the humanitarian catastrophe in Yemen, warning that the situation there had become the world’s largest food security crisis and that lack of access to food and clean water created the conditions for the cholera epidemic. While he lauded the United Nations and its partners, along with medical personnel in Yemen, for their work to stem the spread of cholera and other diseases, he criticized the parties to the conflict for putting their own interests above the needs of the Yemeni people, explaining that both lack of access to food and disease are, in the case of Yemen, man-made phenomena that could be avoided if the parties were willing to negotiate an end the conflict.
The American Bar Association (ABA) recently delivered a white paper authored by Vanderbilt Law professor Michael Newton to the US Senate that assesses the ways in which US arms sales and military assistance to Saudi Arabia violate existing US laws. Because of Saudi Arabia’s gross and consistent violation of the human rights standards outlined in the Foreign Assistance Act and the Arms Export Control Act, the paper recommends that arms sales cease until Saudi Arabia complies with international humanitarian law.
In a new publication from the International Crisis Group, the organization’s Arabian Peninsula Senior Analyst, April Longley Alley, discusses realities on the ground in Yemen’s Houthi-held capital, San’a. She focuses on the isolation of San’a from the rest of Yemen and its impact on locals; although food products are available in stores in San’a, the money to purchase them is dwindling for many families. Furthermore, the author emphasizes that the high numbers of civilian casualties that accompany Saudi attacks have turned public opinion against the Saudi-led coalition. Many feel a sense of solidarity with the Houthis as a result of both isolation from the rest of Yemen and indiscriminate coalition bombings; these combine to create an “us and them” mentality that pits San’a against Saudi Arabia, and locals feel angry toward both the Saudi-led coalition and the United States over the high number of civilian deaths.