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Recent Action Alerts
Over the past two weeks members of the Senate and House of Representatives have introduced several important measures that could limit or end US military involvement in the war in Yemen. These bills have a very good chance of passing, but only if we all urge our members of Congress to sponsor and support them. You already know that the Yemeni people are facing famine and unspeakable suffering because of this war. The warring parties won't be able to reach a peaceful settlement until foreign interventions and meddling end. That's why we’re asking you to write and call your senators and your representative today. Here's what's on the table:
Yesterday, in a dramatic shift against current US involvement in Yemen’s civil war, 63 senators voted to discharge S.J.Res. 54 to the floor. Though a milestone in the struggle to end US complicity in Yemen’s conflict and resulting humanitarian catastrophe, we need to caution that the Senate has only voted, so far, to have a debate on the resolution. Already, some senators who supported the resolution’s discharge because of public pressure and media coverage are looking for a way to duck the final vote when it occurs next week. So we need you to keep calling and emailing until the bill passes the Senate!
Recent news summaries
Friday, March 8
People are protesting for a fourth day in Aden after Raafat Danbaa, who allegedly witnessed the rape of a seven-year-old boy by UAE-backed fighters, was found dead. The Yemeni government has set up a committee to investigate his death. The UAE has faced numerous accusations of various human rights abuses since taking control of southern Yemen.
In the al-Durayhimi area of Hudaydah, fighting broke out between Houthi and coalition forces. A coalition officer reported that the Houthis prompted the attack and that this was the second attack in 24 hours. Sporadic fighting has taken place since the Stockholm agreement, preventing the successful withdrawal of forces from Hudaydah.
Saudi Arabia shot down a drone that was flying over the kingdom. The Saudi-led coalition accused the Houthis of launching the drone and using it to target civilians.
Sunday, March 10
UNICEF says it has started paying over 136,000 teachers and school staff in Yemen. UNICEF believes an estimated 3.7 million children will benefit from this as 2 million out of 7 million school-aged children are already out of school because of the conflict and economic crisis.
Monday, March 11
Pro-Hadi news source Yemen Now tweeted on the Hadi government’s displeasure with the UN’s perceived silence concerning Houthi attacks on civilians in Hajjah province.
The Women’s Solidarity Network posted a statement on their Facebook page calling for humanitarian action in response to the intensification of conflict in the areas of Yemen not covered by the Stockholm agreements, such as the Kushar district of Hajjah.
There have been over 5,000 cases of child recruitment since the beginning of the conflict, according to a non-government source. The article also states that around 4 million children have been prevented from receiving an education due to the destruction of schools and infrastructure during the conflict.
Al-Masdar Online discusses water access issues in the city of Ta’iz. This article, citing a report from Al Jazeera, states that Houthi forces control the city’s main source of water east of Ta’iz and have been restricting access to water as part of a siege on the city. Meanwhile, qat farmers to the west of Ta’iz require large amounts of water for their fields and use a significant portion of the available water resources, leaving little for the city’s residents.
Aden al-Ghad reports that all communication systems in the Hajur tribal area have been cut off by the Houthis. This action was followed by two days of large-scale destruction of civilian homes in the area, according to journalist Faisal al-Shababi.
Tuesday, March 12
A prominent Yemeni Baha’i leader, Hamed bin Haydara, was sentenced to death in a Houthi court for espionage and apostasy charges. The international community is concerned that the Houthis are purposely targeting the religious minority group. Over 100 Baha’is are being held on false charges.
Twelve children and ten women were killed following Saudi-led airstrikes in Hajjah Governorate, while thirty people were injured. The strikes were intended to target Houthi forces attacking tribal fighters and civilians in the area.
A UN humanitarian agency has stated that Hajjah province has become another flashpoint in the country’s civil war. The district of Kushar in Hajjah province is only 31 miles from the Saudi border. The ongoing fighting has trapped civilians between the warring parties and the number of displaced people has doubled in the past six months.
The UN Security Council is urging Yemen’s warring parties to implement the peace deal in Hudaydah. The five permanent members released a statement saying they were “extremely concerned” that the agreement in Stockholm had not been implemented.
Al-Masdar Online reports that clashes erupted Sunday evening between tribal gunmen and Saudi forces in al-Mahrah province. Tribal elements in the area reportedly oppose the Saudi military presence in the province.
Baseem al-Jenani reports on continued shelling by the Houthis in Hudaydah, which continue to hinder the progress of Stockholm agreement implementations.
Aden 24 reports that Saudi-funded mine removal teams removed over 2,000 mines and pieces of unexploded ordnance in the first week of March.
Wednesday, March 13
The Senate passed S.J.Res.7, a war powers measure to end US military participation in the war in Yemen. The measure will now go to the House, where a similar piece of legislation passed last month. President Trump has promised to veto S.J.Res.7 if it passes the House as expected.
The Yemeni government has accused the Houthis of committing “acts of genocide” against civilians in Hajjah province. Yemen’s information minister states that the Houthis are using heavy weaponry, including ballistic missiles, to target civilian homes. The fighting has persisted for more than a month and thousands of civilians are unable to flee and lack access to basic necessities.
Amnesty International reports that several children have been sexually abused in the city of Ta'iz over the past eight months. Some of these crimes were committed by members of a coalition-backed, pro-Islah militia. The report calls on the Yemeni government to investigate these crimes and to protect the children and their families from militia retaliation.
Thursday, March 14
TeleYemen, Yemen’s largest telecommunications company, has relocated to Aden and is back under the government’s control. TeleYemen was previously headquartered in San’a, which gave the Houthis exclusive rights to provide international communications access. According to the Ministry of Telecommunications and Information, private telecommunications companies operating out of San’a are indirectly financing the Houthis’ war efforts through taxes. Between 2014 and 2017 the Houthis received $2 billion from telecommunication companies. The ministry is taking action to combat this.
Al-Masdar Online discusses the disconnect between the Central Bank of Yemen recognized by the international community, located in government-controlled Aden, and the San’a-based Central Bank that has fallen under Houthi control since their takeover of the city. While the official headquarters of the Central Bank was moved to Aden by the Hadi government in 2016, the San’a-based banking system now controlled by the Houthis continues to function, controlling currency exchange points and ATMs, often under policies which conflict with those instituted by the government in Aden. The article illuminates how this discrepancy contributes to the instability of the Yemeni financial system.
An article from al-Masdar Online discusses a protest today by the Mothers of Abductees Association in Ibb province. The protest was held to draw attention to the practice of blackmailing abductees’ families by Houthi militias in the area.
Friday, February 22
Yemen’s Ministry of Culture provided the government’s first official account of lost cultural property and artifacts since the war began. The government accuses Houthi rebels of smuggling stolen antiquities out of the country and selling them on the black market. Further, many documents and manuscripts have been destroyed and are missing, and some historical sites are under great threat. The government’s account only places blame on the Houthis for the destruction of Yemen’s cultural heritage, despite the fact that the Saudi-led coalition is known to have damaged or destroyed a number of cultural sites in airstrikes.
UNICEF Yemen reports that over 2 million children in Yemen are now out of school. Many schools across Yemen have been damaged or occupied by armed forces, or used to house displaced people. Teachers--like many civil servants--have gone without salaries for much of the war’s duration.
Earlier this month CNN released a report that stated that Saudi Arabia and The United Arab Emirates had transferred US weapons to unaccountable militias. On Thursday, presidential candidate Senator Elizabeth Warren issued a letter with questions about the suspected arms transfer to acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. Warren believes addressing the diversion of US weapons is crucial to holding partners accountable and protecting national security.
Houthi militias attacked the Yahiya tribe in Hajjah province today, according to al-Masdar Online
Saturday, February 23
The UAE backed Security Belt Forces took control of an al-Qaeda training base in Abyan Governorate. Abyan has a reputation as a stronghold for AQAP. On Friday night a military campaign to remove al-Qaeda from Aumaran valley was launched. Thus far, the Security Belt Forces claim to have driven AQAP fighters out of Hadhramawt, large portions of Shabwah, and “90%” of Abyan.
Clashes were reported between Security Belt Forces and al-Qaeda in a number of valleys in al-Mawdiah district, according to southern news outlet Aden al-Ghad.
Sunday, February 24
The Houthis are scheduled to withdraw troops from the ports of Saleef, used for grain, and Ras Isa, an oil terminal, on Monday as the first step in the UN-brokered deal. The second step, Houthi withdrawal from al-Hudaydah Port and a pull-back by coalition forces, will take place at a later time. Successful implementation of the deal is crucial to averting a renewed offensive by UAE-led forces, and guaranteeing commercial and humanitarian access to the ports.
Fighting between the Houthis and Yemeni tribes in Hajjah has intensified. Tribal sources confirm that 45 Houthi fighters have died as a result of the fighting.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and hosts Sweden and Switzerland will convene a pledging conference for the humanitarian response in Yemen. The UN is seeking international support for the 80% of the Yemeni population in need humanitarian assistance. In December the UN asked for $4.2 billion for Yemen. The World Food Program aims to help 12 million people a month in 2019 and will need $1.5 billion.
British Prime Minister Theresa May says the UK will pledge £200 million in aid to Yemen, but that their arms policy toward Saudi Arabia would not change. This comes after recent criticism of Britain’s arms exports to Saudi Arabia.
Pro-government news site Yemen Now tweeted that a Houthi missile attack in Sa’dah killed and wounded more than 70 civilians.
Monday, February 25
H.J.Res.37 was expected to be considered by the Senate this week. However, Republican leadership has “de-privileged” the resolution, which means that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) will not allow a vote on the legislation despite its passage in the House.
Human Rights Watch says that Qatar is threatening to expel a Yemeni national without considering his claim for asylum. The Yemeni national should qualify for asylum under Qatari law. However, for Qatar’s asylum law to go in to effect, a Committee for Political Asylee Affairs needs to be created, but there is no timeline for when this will be.
President Trump announced on Twitter that Danny Burch, and US citizen who had been held hostage in Yemen for 18 months, had been freed with the help of the UAE. Burch worked for the Yemeni Safer oil company at the time he was abducted.
Al-Masdar Online reports that according to human rights sources in Hajjah province, 105 civilians were killed in Houthi attacks on the Hajur tribes in Hajjah over the past month.
Tuesday, February 26
For the first time in six months, UN aid officials have been able to reach the Red Sea Mills, which holds a vital grain supply. Although this is a major breakthrough, the UN needs sustained access, which will come from progress in the implementation of the Stockholm Agreement.
In response to the decision on Monday that deemed H.J.Res.37 “de-privileged,” Senator Bernie Sanders is moving ahead with a plan to discharge S.J.Res.7, the same resolution that passed in the Senate in December. The bill has already been deemed privileged, and is identical to the pre-amendment version of H.J.Res.37. If the resolution can pass in the Senate a second time, House Democrats may still have trouble preventing another round of amendments.
It is believed that thousands of civilians are besieged and more than 100 inhabitants have died as a result of the ongoing fighting between the Houthis and local fighters led by tribal leaders in the Hajur area of Hajjah province. The Houthis have had control of Hajjah since they seized San’a in 2014. Residents in Hajur do not have access to medical treatment, food, or other essentials. The coalition has not intervened directly, but air dropped medicine, food, and weapons for the first time last Tuesday. However, residents say the supplies were only for fighters and that it was not enough to help them win.
The United Nations pledging conference for the humanitarian crisis in Yemen raised $2.6 billion of its $4 billion goal. Saudi Arabia and the UAE, primary actors in the conflict, pledged $500 million each. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres stated, however, that the humanitarian response will not be enough the end the crisis and that peace negotiations between the warring sides are needed.
Although phase one of the UN-brokered deal to withdraw from Hudaydah was agreed upon, implementation of the deal seems to have stalled. Mistrust remains an obstacle for the successful implementation of the deal.
After the Trump administration failed to meet the deadline invoked by the Magnitsky act, which required a verdict on whether or not the White House believed the Saudi regime has committed human rights violations, a group of US senators introduced legislation that would require the Director of National Intelligence to submit a public report on the assassination of Jamal Khashoggi.
A number of Houthi fighters, including an explosives expert, were killed by the popular resistance movement in al-Bayda province. The popular resistance is a term used to refer to local/tribal forces that have allied with the Hadi government in opposition to the Houthis.
Wednesday, February 27
Journalists have gathered evidence that German weapons are being used by the Saudi-led coalition despite Germany’s ban on arms sales to Saudi Arabia. During a press conference, the spokeswoman for Chancellor Angela Merkel refused to comment on the new reports and only repeated Germany’s current policy on arms sales to Saudi Arabia.
The UN Security Council authorized a one-year extension of the sanctions imposed on entities threatening peace, security, and stability in Yemen by Resolution 2140, which has been in place since February of 2014. The latest resolution also renews the provisions of an arms embargo imposed against the Houthis in 2015.
A feature by Al Jazeera highlighted Yemen’s water scarcity, as around 20 million Yemenis do not have access to water because of the war and preexisting challenges. Yemenis contend with depleted wells, contaminated water, and inability to access aid. Therefore millions of Yemenis are left spending many hours of the day searching for clean drinking water.
Thursday, February 28
After more than two years, the government has paid the salaries of more than 30,000 state employees in Hudaydah.
British Foreign Minister Jeremy Hunt will travel to Oman, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE to hold talks on the conflict in Yemen. Hunt plans to meet with both Houthi and coalition officials.
The Houthis blew up thirteen houses in Hajjah province and executed a man in the city of Ta’iz yesterday, according to Aden al-Ghad.
Friday, March 1
Representatives Lieu (D-CA) and Malinowski (D-NJ) have sent a letter to Secretary of State Pompeo, co-signed by 11 other members of Congress, demanding an investigation into reports that Saudi Arabia has recruited and deployed Sudanese children to fight in Yemen. US law prohibits the provision of military assistance to states that recruit minors to fight. The White House generally issues waivers for some countries known to violate international laws on child soldiers, including Yemen, but it has not granted a waiver to Saudi Arabia since the war in Yemen began.
Friday, February 8
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.