Wartime Challenges Facing Local Authorities in Shabwa

By Omar Saleh Yaslm BaHamid  Five years of war in Yemen have weakened local authorities’ ability to fulfil their roles in economic, social and cultural development and their financial and administrative capacity to provide basic services such as healthcare, education, electricity, water  and sanitation.  This paper gives an overview of wartime challenges faced by local authorities in Shabwa governorate, in southern Yemen. It provides an overview of administrative, financial and security challenges, such as corrupt hiring practices, tribal vendettas, weak rule of law and diminishing financial resources, and proposes recommendations to address these challenges.  Insights shared at forums for… Continue reading…

Addressing the Southern Issue to Strengthen Yemen’s Peace Process

Analysis by Hussam Radman A year after his appointment as the UN’s special envoy to Yemen, Martin Griffiths opened a branch for his office in the interim capital, Aden, where he met a wide spectrum of southern actors. But, until now, he has not significantly invested his office politically in what is known as the southern issue, instead focusing on efforts to reach a round of comprehensive political negotiations between the internationally recognized government of Yemen and the armed Houthi movement to consolidate a cease-fire throughout the country.[1]  However, the Riyadh Agreement reached in 2019 has helped create an opportune… Continue reading…

Yemen Economic Bulletin: Tax and Rule – Houthis Move to Institutionalize Hashemite Elite with ‘One-Fifth’ Levy

By the Sana’a Center Economic Unit  On April 29, Houthi authorities in Sana’a formally enacted new regulations on the collection and use of zakat, the Islamic obligation for individuals to donate a portion of their wealth each year to charitable causes. The executive bylaw, signed by Mehdi al-Mashat, president of the Houthi-run Supreme Political Council (SPC), imposes a khums tax (literally meaning “one-fifth”, or 20 percent) on economic activities involving natural resources in areas under the group’s control in Yemen,[1] which includes most of northern Yemen where some 70 percent of the population lives. Houthi authorities characterized the new regulations… Continue reading…

Marib’s Tribes Hold the Line Against the Houthi Assault

Commentary by Maged Al-Madhaji The future of the war in Yemen will be determined in Marib. The Yemeni government’s control over the governorate, one of its last major centers of power in the country, is being severely challenged as Houthi forces seek to extend their control over all of northern Yemen and seize control of Marib’s oil and gas resources. A desperate defense by local tribes, government forces and the Saudi-led coalition has so far managed to prevent the Houthis from marching on the governorate’s capital, Marib city, and the oil fields farther to the east. In recent weeks,… Continue reading…

The Iran Variable in the UAE’s Yemen Policy

Commentary by Thomas Juneau The growing foreign policy assertiveness of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has attracted much attention in recent years. The small oil-rich federation has deployed its forces throughout the region, most visibly in Yemen and Libya; thrown its diplomatic weight around, notably by supporting Abdelfattah al-Sisi in Egypt and leading the charge in blockading Qatar; positioned itself as one of the United States’ most trusted counter-terrorism partners; and, perhaps most strikingly, made headlines recently by becoming the third Arab state to normalize relations with Israel.  Media commentary often attributes the UAE’s expansionist foreign policy in large… Continue reading…

Yemen Economic Bulletin: Widening Exchange Rate Disparity Between New and Old Banknotes

Exchange rate divergence between Sana’a and Aden reached a record high by the end of August, with a Yemeni rial worth 33 percent less in Aden than in Sana’a. The rial was trading at YR805 per US$1 in the Aden parallel exchange market, compared to YR605 per US$1 in Sana’a.  The difference in value of the rial between government- and Houthi-controlled areas is a consequence of the split in the Central Bank of Yemen (CBY) into rival institutions in Sana’a and Aden affiliated with the warring parties, leading to fractured monetary policy. The divergence started to widen following the… Continue reading…

The Yemeni Government’s Triangle of Power

Commentary by Ammar Al Aulaqi The internationally recognized Yemeni government’s continued relevance on the ground, even after losing its interim capital of Aden last year, is largely due to its hold on the country’s oil and gas producing regions. These form what could be called the government’s triangle of power, drawn between the cities of Marib, Ataq and Sayoun in the governorates of Marib, Shabwa and Hadramawt, respectively, which account for all of Yemen’s oil and natural gas production. Control of Yemen’s oil and gas fields represents an immense strategic resource, both for their current revenues and future potential… Continue reading…

The United States in a World Without Friends

Commentary by Gregory D. Johnsen Over the past three-and-a-half years, the United States – under President Donald Trump – has extorted partners, belittled allies, and mocked international institutions. Not surprisingly, this sort of ‘America First, America Only’ approach to the world of international diplomacy has had serious and severe consequences. The United States, it turns out, cannot thumb its nose at one-time friends whenever it suits the president and then expect them to fall in line when asked.  If the aspirational ideology of US foreign policy in the 20th century was “speak softly and carry a big stick,” the… Continue reading…

Yemenis in Saudi Arabia: Less Money to Send Home, More Pressure to Leave

By Ali Al-Dailami Working 15-hour days, foregoing internet service and shaving bald rather than visiting a barber long have helped a Yemeni fabric salesman in Saudi Arabia stretch his SR2,500 (US$666) paycheck to cover his expenses and send nearly half of it to his family back home each month, keeping them secure enough for his children to focus on the school and university studies he funds. It hasn’t been easy.  Once, he hid in a roll of fabric when police swept through during a crackdown on foreign workers—his residency permit was expiring soon and he wasn’t yet ready with… Continue reading…

The Yemen Crisis: A Chronology of Failures

Abu Bakr Al-Qirbi addresses the general debate of the 68th session of the General Assembly as Yemen's foreign minister on September 28, 2013. (UN photo/Devra Berkowitz) By Dr. Abu Bakr Al-Qirbi Editor’s note: Dr. Abu Bakr Al-Qirbi served as Yemen’s foreign minister from 2001-2014, beginning in the aftermath of the October 2000 USS Cole bombing in Aden’s port, which shaped Yemen’s diplomatic agenda for more than a decade. Dr. Al-Qirbi, a member of the General People’s Congress (GPC) party founded by the late President Ali Abdullah Saleh, was involved in negotiating Saleh’s 2012 departure from office, then continued to lead the Foreign Ministry… Continue reading…