Analysis

  • Washington’s Lack of Options in Marib

    Just days after the Biden administration reversed the Trump-era designation of the Houthi movement as a Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO), the armed group renewed its military campaign to take over the strategic city of Marib. As the Yemeni national army backed by resistance fighters and local tribes fights to fend off the offensive, Saudi Arabia…

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  • ‘Businessmen are not prohibited from engaging in politics’ – A Q&A with Ahmad al-Essi

    Officially, Ahmad al-Essi is a businessman who dabbles in politics – he’s the chairman of the Alessi Group as well as the deputy head of Yemen’s presidential office. Unofficially, Al-Essi may be the most powerful Yemeni alive. Certainly, he’s one of the richest. Twice, once in 2015 and again in 2016, he provided a financial…

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  • China Prioritizes Gulf Economic, Oil Relationships; Yemen Can Wait

    Introduction Diplomatically isolated by the West and overshadowed by the Soviet Union in the east, communist China of the 1950s sought out relationships with smaller states, including Yemen. It cultivated diplomatic and economic ties, which it maintained with various Yemeni leaders, northern and southern, through the next three decades. China secured infrastructure projects, provided loans,…

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  • Yemen’s Socialist Party and the Fragmentation of the Yemeni Left

    Yemeni political parties have performed dismally in recent decades. This has both spurred, and been spurred on by, the failure of politics in general in the country, which culminated in the outbreak of war almost six years ago. Yemen’s political parties today have abandoned their positions as national power brokers capable of pushing forward a…

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  • In Focus: How I Narrowly Escaped Death at Aden Airport

    Only a limited number of journalists and government officials were supposed to be present at Aden International Airport on December 30, 2020. However, to our surprise, hundreds of citizens had flocked since the early hours of the morning to welcome the new cabinet members, and some to celebrate the return of former Aden security director…

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  • Three Weeks in a Houthi Prison

    On May 15, 2015, I sat between two Yemeni officers in a police truck behind the Criminal Investigation Department in Sana’a. “You’ll be free in two hours,” one of the officers told me as he stared anxiously at the building, which housed a prison run by the US-backed Counter-Terror Unit (CTU).

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  • Journey into Shabwa

    In November, the Sana’a Center organized a visit by an international press delegation to Yemen’s Shabwa governorate. This was the third such trip the center has arranged, with previous ones being to Marib and Hadramawt, and came as part of the Sana’a Center’s continuing commitment to ensure the world, through its media, has a window…

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  • Al-Mahra: Where Regional Powers Define Local Politics

    Although far from the frontlines of Yemen’s civil war, Al-Mahra governorate remains an important battleground for Gulf powers competing for influence in the conflict. A Saudi military buildup in Al-Mahra, purportedly aimed at slowing the flow of Houthi-bound weapons from Iran, reached a tipping point in February when fighting broke out over the mounting restrictions on cross-border trade. The clashes immediately preceded the appointment of a new governor who has been less divisive than his predecessor and has found some…

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  • UAE Keeps Friends Close and Saudi Arabia Closer in Yemen

    Yemenis often puzzle over the role the United Arab Emirates (UAE) plays in Yemen. Today, the main source of confusion stems from Emirati actions in the south, which raise fears among Yemeni unionists and false expectations among Yemeni secessionists that the UAE is working to redivide Yemen into two or three parts.

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  • Islah Wary of a Hadi Reconciliation with the STC

    Commentary by Fahd Omer Editor’s note: The author, a Yemeni researcher, is writing under a pseudonym for security reasons. On December 11, Yemeni government and Southern Transitional Council (STC) forces began withdrawing from frontlines in Abyan governorate. The redeployments – first stipulated in the Saudi-sponsored Riyadh Agreement signed in November 2019 but implemented more than…

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