The UNSC: From Participant to Passive Observer in Yemen

The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) has been the gatekeeper for UN efforts in Yemen for almost a decade.[1] With a tortuous process where progress seems to come and go, some diplomats from member states of the UNSC have privately expressed disappointment that the Council is always “reacting” rather than “acting” when it comes to Yemen.[2] The Security Council’s ability to be effective has been called into question by diplomats and analysts.[3] As the past six years show, the UNSC has taken the backseat in Yemen, worried that tangible action would interfere with the UN Special Envoy’s efforts to broker… Continue reading…

Yemen Environment Bulletin: How Weak Urban Planning, Climate Change and War are Magnifying Floods and Natural Disasters

By Yasmeen Al-Eryani This year, Yemen experienced a series of weather shocks as flash floods swept through 15 governorates across Yemen between March 24 and June 6, affecting some areas multiple times. Considering that 80 percent of the Yemeni population is in need of some form of humanitarian assistance and more than 3.6 million people are internally displaced,[1] while public services and infrastructure have been laid bare during five long years of war, swathes of Yemen’s population are vulnerable to the immediate and long-term impact of these floods. This comes in the midst of a global pandemic, a continuing war… Continue reading…

Yemen Economic Bulletin: Another Stage-Managed Fuel Crisis

By The Sana'a Center Economic Unit The images are familiar by now: Yemenis in Houthi-controlled territory queue at fuel stations, amid announced shortages. Meanwhile, fuel tankers build up in the Coalition Holding Area (CHA), located in international waters in the Red Sea offshore of Jizan, Saudi Arabia. The number of ships awaiting approval from the government and the Saudi-led coalition to proceed to Houthi-controlled Hudaydah port reaches the proportions of a small flotilla. Combined, these images would seem to tell a simple and compelling story: the Saudi-led coalition and Yemeni government are preventing fuel from entering Hudaydah to spite… Continue reading…

The Riyadh Agreement Dilemma

The Riyadh Agreement Commentary by Abdulghani Al-Iryani A key obstacle to nationwide peace negotiations is the formation of a Yemeni government delegation that includes the Southern Transitional Council (STC). This was meant to be a key outcome of the Saudi-brokered Riyadh Agreement the two rival parties acceded to last year. As it stands, however, successful implementation of the Riyadh Agreement requires redeploying forces loyal to Yemeni President Abdo Rabbu Mansour Hadi in Aden, his government’s interim capital, risking renewed bloody confrontations with STC-affiliated forces that would wreck the peace negotiations. This is the dilemma of the Riyadh Agreement. On November 5, 2019,… Continue reading…

Yemen Economic Bulletin: STC’s Aden Takeover Cripples Central Bank and Fragments Public Finances

On 25 April, the Southern Transitional Council (STC) declared emergency self-rule across all southern Yemen in a direct challenge to the authority of the internationally recognized Yemeni government. This assertion of influence was quickly shown to be overly ambitious, with various southern governors rejecting the STC declaration and Yemeni government forces fighting back. The military and security situation in the south thus fractured, with the STC and affiliated forces in the west, government forces to the east, and the two clashing in Abyan governorate in the middle.       Importantly, the STC solidified control over Aden – which had been both… Continue reading…

The Houthis: From the Sa’ada Wars to the Saudi-led Intervention

احتفالات عاشوراء في العاصمة اليمنية صنعاء In February 2010, former Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh casually declared in a speech that the Sa’ada Wars were over. Six rounds of fighting between the Yemeni army and Houthi movement since 2004 did not end with any political agreement. The Sa’ada Wars had left the government and army fractured and divided politically, as a power struggle emerged between Ahmad Ali Saleh, the son of the president, and Ali Mohsen al-Ahmar, the country’s top military commander and President Saleh’s old partner in power. Years of war, meanwhile, served to strengthen the Houthis militarily, and after Saleh declared an end… Continue reading…

Serious Risks in Saudi Options for Leaving Yemen 

Commentary by Abdulghani Al-Iryani Saudi Arabia is politically and financially exhausted after five years of conflict against the Houthis. Tired of the 200 million Saudi riyal per day cost of the war, Riyadh offered a unilateral cease-fire April 8 and then extended it two weeks later, part of its attempt to pivot to a negotiated solution after continued territorial losses. Timed with the growing COVID-19 crisis, the recent Saudi cease-fires provided face-saving moral high ground to step back militarily and invited the Houthis to follow. The Houthis, however, were not biting; they ignored the cease-fires and responded with their… Continue reading…

Al-Bayda Governorate: Too Strategic to be Forgotten

Commentary by Maged Al-Madhaji Al-Bayda is often forgotten. It is a vast area of Yemen where little is visible other than poverty and powerlessness, which have worsened during the war. It generally receives little attention among Yemen observers and monitors, except when it comes to Al-Qaeda. Recently, however, Al-Bayda has emerged as a central arena in the battle between the Houthi movement and its opponents. Al-Bayda borders eight other governorates: Shabwa, Al-Dhalea, Abyan and Lahj to the south, and Marib, Sana’a, Dhamar and Ibb to the north. Its strategic location, providing access to many areas of the country, makes… Continue reading…

Abyan Battles to Determine Fate of the Riyadh Agreement

Commentary by Hussam Radman On May 11, forces loyal to President Hadi launched a massive military attack against Southern Transitional Council (STC) forces in Yemen’s southern governorate of Abyan. The pro-government forces are attempting to seize Zinjibar, the governorate’s capital, which would put them in position to advance toward the interim capital, Aden. The renewed fighting came as part of the government’s effort to change the military equation in the South and improve its negotiating position related to the Riyadh Agreement. Struck in November 2019, the deal halted fighting between the government and STC forces, but implementation of power-sharing… Continue reading…

Houthi Coronavirus Coverup Unleashes Death, Suffering as Yemen Marks Eid

Commentary by Osamah Al-Rawhani The COVID-19 virus is rapidly spreading in northern Yemen and the response of Houthi authorities – to publicly deny this reality and silence those who contradict them – has ensured vastly more Yemenis will needlessly suffer and die in the months to come.  In the last week of Ramadan, there has been an escalating sense in the Yemeni capital that the pandemic is spiraling out of control. On the street and in social media, almost everyone seems to know someone who either has the virus or has died from it – though most can only… Continue reading…