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Yemenis Must Face the Truth About Our War of Identities

The war in Yemen, while still described as a political conflict between political factions, from the start had an underlying clash between two key identities: northern Zaidi tribes of the high plateau, historically referred to as Upper Yemen, who have dominated most of Yemen for centuries

Q&A with Anna Karin Eneström, Swedish Ambassador to the UN

Ambassador Anna Karin Eneström has been the Permanent Representative of Sweden to the United Nations. On October 12, she spoke with the Sana’a Center’s Gregory Johnsen and Waleed Alhariri about, among other things, the importance of involving women in Yemen’s peace talks and why now is not the time to change the UN’s strategy. 

The Sana’a Center Organizes International Media Visit to Shabwa

The Sana’a Center for Strategic Studies organized a visit by an international press delegation to Yemen’s Shabwa governorate during the second week of November, bringing senior correspondents from North American and European print and broadcast media including Le Monde, the Los Angeles Times, El Pais, Der Spiegel, The Times, and others. The seven-day trip included […]

Shabwa: Progress Despite Turmoil in a Governorate of Competing Identities

Shabwa governorate, perched centrally at the foot of Yemen’s mountainous highlands and stretching to the Gulf of Aden, is at a crossroads of Yemeni identity as well as geography. As part of the former Marxist South Yemen that unified with the northern Yemen Arab Republic in 1990 and then attempted to break away four years later, Shabwa shares the southern sense of marginalization and alienation that has bred popular support for secessionist elements in recent years.

The Houthi Movement from a Local Perspective: A Resurgence of Political Zaidism

The Yemen War is often characterized in international media as a proxy war framed as part of the broader competition for regional hegemony between Iran and Saudi Arabia. An excessive focus on regional geopolitics creates a narrative that largely ignores the local drivers of the conflict and the historic context in Yemen that shaped them.

Future Generations: Voices of Yemeni Youth

Four leading Yemeni youth activists held an interactive online discussion with UK Minister for the Middle East and North Africa MP James Cleverly on November 16, 2020.  Hosted by the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office in collaboration with the Sana’a Center Youth initiative (Yemen Peace Forum) and the Yemeni Youth Platform for Peace, the event […]

The Riyadh Agreement One Year On

One year ago, on November 5, 2019, the internationally recognized government of Yemen and the Southern Transitional Council (STC) signed the Riyadh Agreement. 

Yemen’s Prisoner Exchange Must be Depoliticized

In mid-October, the Yemeni government and the Houthis swapped 1,056 prisoners as part of the December 2018 Stockholm Agreement. The prisoner exchange sparked hopes, mainly among foreign observers, that this could be a first step toward peace in Yemen.

De Facto Partition of Yemen Looms with Riyadh Agreement’s Continued Failure

The Riyadh Agreement, signed one year ago, has failed in almost every aspect of its implementation. As its promise to act as a unifying force in Yemen continues to fade into the past, the de facto partition of the country is coming evermore into focus on the horizon.

The Riyadh Agreement’s Fading Promise – The Yemen Review, October 2020

Over the course of two days, October 15-16, the Yemeni government and the Houthis exchanged 1,056 prisoners in a deal facilitated by the International Committee of the Red Cross as part of the 2018 Stockholm Agreement. Among those released was Vice President Ali Mohsen al-Ahmar’s son, Mohsen Ali Mohsen. Majed Fadhael, deputy minister of human rights for President Abdo Rabbu Mansour Hadi’s government, said there would be talks on another prisoner exchange before the end of 2020, which would include several high profile figures such as the president’s brother, Nasser Mansour Hadi, Mahmoud al-Subayhi, the former minister of defense, and Mohammed Qahtan, an Islah party politician.

Marib: A Yemeni Government Stronghold Increasingly Vulnerable to Houthi Advances

Armed tribesmen and Yemeni army forces keep watch at the frontline area of Al-Jadafer, Marib, near the border with Al-Jawf governorate, on September 6, 2020 // Sana’a Center photo by Ali Owidha By Ali Al-Sakani and Casey Coombs Executive Summary Marib, a centrally-located governorate connecting Al-Bayda, Shabwa, Hadramawt, Al-Jawf and Sana’a, has undergone a drastic […]

Q&A with Jonathan Allen, UK Chargé d’Affaires to the UN

Ambassador Jonathan Allen has served as chargé d’affaires to the United Kingdom Mission to the United Nations in New York since March 2020. He was appointed UK Deputy Permanent Representative to the UN in August 2017, and was Acting Director General, Defence and Intelligence from November 2016 to April 2017.

With Enemies Like These, Who Needs Friends?

The armed Houthi movement, which took over Sana’a on September 21, 2014, commemorated its sixth anniversary of holding the Yemeni capital on September 20, 2020, with a parade in Sana’a’s Al-Tahrir square // Sana’a Center photo by Asem Alposi. Commentary by Abdulghani Al-Iryani It has become a requirement to use the expression “Iran-supported” whenever referring […]

Yemen’s Accelerating Economic Woes During the COVID-19 Pandemic

This paper presents policy recommendations to address this situation for the United Nations and other international stakeholders, Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states, as well as the internationally recognized Yemeni government and the de facto authorities in Sana’a (the armed Houthi movement, Ansar Allah).

Six Years of Houthi Rule in Sana’a

The Sana’a Center Editorial When the armed Houthi movement, Ansar Allah, took over Sana’a on September 21, 2014, it was almost inconceivable that they would still be holding the Yemeni capital six years on. Look ahead to six years from today, however, and current trajectories seem to foreshadow the group and its leaders being only further entrenched in […]

Wartime Challenges Facing Local Authorities in Shabwa

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. 

Battle for Marib – The Yemen Review, September 2020

The battle for Marib governorate, a Yemeni government stronghold for most of the war, dominated attention in Yemen during September, with Houthi forces seizing territory in several areas, particularly in the northwest and south. Yemeni government-allied tribes, especially the Murad and Bani Abd, struggled to slow the Houthi advances, which highlighted the weakness of the Yemeni government armed forces..

Addressing the Southern Issue to Strengthen Yemen’s Peace Process

Yemenis, waving flags of the former South Yemen as well as the United Arab Emirates, gather at the annual Yafa’a heritage festival in Lahj governorate on August 9, 2020 // Sana’a Center photo by Ahmed Shihab al-Qadi Analysis by Hussam Radman Executive Summary A year after his appointment as the UN’s special envoy to Yemen, […]

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

Houthi supporters march in Sana’a for the ‘Day of Wilayah’ events on August 8, 2020 // Sana’a Center photo by Asem Alposi By the Sana’a Center Economic Unit  Introduction   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 […]

Marib’s Tribes Hold the Line Against the Houthi Assault

Tribesmen and Yemeni army forces are stationed on the frontlines near Al-Jadafer village in Marib, along the governorate’s border with Al-Jawf, on September 6, 2020. // Sana’a Center photo by Ali Owidha 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, […]

The Iran Variable in the UAE’s Yemen Policy

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

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

A man buys Saudi riyals at Al-Hamdi Exchange on Haddah street in Sana’a on August 14, 2020 // Sana’a Center photo by Asem Alposi By the Sana’a Center Economic Unit 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 […]

The Yemeni Government’s Triangle of Power

An aerial view of the Safer oil production facilities in Marib governorate // Photo: SEPOC gallery 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. […]

The United States in a World Without Friends

US President Donald Trump addresses the UN Security Council meeting on Non-proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction, at which he presided on September 26, 2018 // Photo Credit: Shutterstock/Lev Radin 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 […]

FSO Safer: Why Are We Still Waiting?

The Sana’a Center Editorial The devastating explosion at the port of Beirut, Lebanon, in August should instill a sense of urgency among all stakeholders in Yemen regarding the gigantic floating bomb just offshore of Hudaydah governorate, officially known as the FSO Safer oil terminal. Like the thousands of tons of highly explosive ammonium nitrate that […]

Hostage on the Red Sea – The Yemen Review Summer Edition, July-August 2020

The FSO Safer oil terminal moored offshore of Ras Issa port // Photo Credit: Safer The Sana’a Center Editorial FSO Safer: Why Are We Still Waiting?  The devastating explosion at the port of Beirut, Lebanon, in August should instill a sense of urgency among all stakeholders in Yemen regarding the gigantic floating bomb just offshore […]

Improving Marib Authorities’ Skills, Capacities to Meet IDP Influx

Internally displaced Yemenis check flood damage in Al-Noqai’a area of Marib al-Wadi district, on August 9, 2020. // Sana’a Center photo by Ali Owaida By Saad Hizam Ali Introduction With the Yemen war in its sixth year, the situation of public institutions in each governorate has changed in various ways. Marib governorate has become a […]

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

A man buys Saudi riyals at Al-Hamdi Exchange on Haddah street in Sana’a on August 14, 2020. // Photo by Asem Alposi 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 […]

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, […]

Yemen Environmental Bulletin: The Decline of Tihama Date Production and Yemen’s Agricultural Collapse

Date palm trees in the Al-Houjriah area in southern Taiz taken on April 14, 2013. (Flickr / Anas al-Hajj) Commentary by Wim Zwijnenburg Yemen’s fertile wadis that flow down from the mountainous areas on the west coast have been an essential lifeline for a population that has relied on its water for agricultural production for […]

The Sixth Yemen Exchange Launches

The Sixth Yemen Exchange launched its two-week online program on August 3, 2020, bringing together over 50 participants from around the world who aim to gain unique access to information, perspectives, updates and analysis on Yemen.    The opening session hosted Sana’a Center Executive Director Majed al-Madhaji and Senior Researcher Abdulghani al-Iryani who gave a deep dive […]

The UNSC: From Participant to Passive Observer in Yemen

The United Nations Security Councils hears a briefing from the UN Special Envoy for Yemen, Martin Griffiths, on September 11, 2018 // UN Photo/Loey Felipe Commentary by Nickolas Ask 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 […]

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

The As-Sailah neighborhood in the old city of Sanaa floods on April 15, 2020 // Sana’a Center photo by Asem Alposi 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 […]

Yemen Economic Bulletin: Another Stage-Managed Fuel Crisis

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 Riyadh Agreement Dilemma

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.

Hadi Must Go

The Sana’a Center Editorial Yemeni President Abdo Rabbu Mansour Hadi is doing his best to prevent an end to the conflict in Yemen. Ensuring that last year’s Riyadh Agreement – meant to mend divisions with his rivals in southern Yemen – never gets implemented is only his latest venture in this regard. Hadi’s tenure has […]

Struggle for the South – The Yemen Review, June 2020

Following the Southern Transitional Council’s takeover of Socotra in June, the flag of the former People’s Democratic Republic of Yemen (South Yemen) was hoisted at the governorate building in the island’s capital, Hedebo, seen here on July 1, 2020 // Sana’a Center photo by Saeed Mastour Saeed Salem The Sana’a Center Editorial  Hadi Must Go […]

The Sixth Yemen Exchange – An Intensive Online Course on Yemen

The Sixth Yemen Exchange is an abbreviated intensive online version of the Yemen Exchange organized by the Sana’a Center and The Exchange Foundation.

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

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.

Serious Risks in Saudi Options for Leaving Yemen 

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.

Al-Bayda Governorate: Too Strategic to be Forgotten

One of the most important agreements the Houthis struck was with the Al-Awad tribe, which is large, prominent in the governorate and traditionally hostile to the Zaidi imamate. Sheikh Ahmad Abdo Rabbu al-Awadi is one of the tribe’s most notable members.

Will Yemen Survive COVID-19?

The Sana’a Center Editorial There is a confluence of humanitarian and economic woes bearing down on Yemen that evoke the image of tidal waves cresting upon tidal waves, and average Yemenis have been left terrifyingly exposed. The United Nations estimates that 16 million Yemenis may ultimately be infected with the COVID-19 virus. Simultaneously, the warring […]

Economic Priorities for a Sustainable Peace Agreement in Yemen

The sustainability of a peace agreement in Yemen depends on two critical economic issues. First, in a conflict that is largely over access to resources, the issues of distribution, control, and sharing of those resources can make or break peace.

A Grave Road Ahead – The Yemen Review, May 2020

There is a confluence of humanitarian and economic woes bearing down on Yemen that evoke the image of tidal waves cresting upon tidal waves, and average Yemenis have been left terrifyingly exposed. The United Nations estimates that 16 million Yemenis may ultimately be infected with the COVID-19 virus

Abyan Battles to Determine Fate of the Riyadh Agreement

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.

Houthi Coronavirus Coverup Unleashes Death, Suffering as Yemen Marks Eid

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. 

Yemen Economic Bulletin: Lebanon’s Financial Collapse Traps Yemeni Banks’ Money

In January 2020, demonstrators heckled a delegation of bankers leaving Lebanon’s central bank. What was unique in this situation, however, was the identity of the banking delegation. These bankers were not Lebanese but Yemeni.

Yemen Urgently Needs a Unified Fiscal Policy Response to COVID-19

In separately defined containment measures, authorities in Sana’a and Aden closed sea, land and air ports as a precaution prior to the April 10 official reporting of Yemen’s first confirmed case of COVID-19. Since then, they have — separately — suspended school and university classes, set up quarantines and imposed social distancing measures.

Can Kuwaiti Mediation and Omani Facilitation Support Ending Yemen’s War?

Kuwait and Oman have carved subtly different niches for themselves in the maelstrom of Gulf politics, in contrast to the muscular approach to regional affairs taken by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Oman, during the long rule of Sultan Qaboos bin Said (1970-2020),

The Drowning of Dissent

For the past few years, women have been abducted in northern Yemen, disappeared, tortured, raped, forced into false confessions of prostitution, and left traumatized and stigmatized, their punishment for publicly contradicting Houthi authorities

War and Pandemic – The Yemen Review, April 2020

Yemen announced its first official cases and confirmed deaths from COVID-19 in April, with the coronavirus cases emerging in Hadramawt, Aden and Taiz. The pandemic’s spread to Yemen heightened fears of how devastating the weeks ahead will be, given the country’s failing health system, people’s weakened immunity and warring parties’ inability to pause fighting and respond together to the threat.

The South Rises Again

Five years of civil strife in southern Yemen has given rise to southern centers of power, some oriented toward secession and others seeking the semi-autonomy of a federal system. Their views and causes were contained, however, until the dynamics of the current war increased southern autonomy

Microfinance in Yemen: An Overview of Challenges and Opportunities

The formally regulated microfinance industry, given its stronger institutional framework and governance, has garnered a relatively more advantageous environment to develop capacities and strategies to react to local demand, making it more resilient to shocks and adverse events, such as the ongoing conflict.

Al-Iryani Urges US to Invest Diplomatic Capital in Securing Peace in Yemen

Abdulghani Al-Iryani is a senior researcher at the Sana’a Center for Strategic Studies where he focuses on the peace process, conflict analysis and transformations of the Yemeni state. Al-Iryani has more than three decades of experience as a political and development consultant. Editor’s Note: Sana’a Center Senior Researcher Abdulghani Al-Iryani was invited April 28, 2020 […]

STC Declaration of Self-Rule in Southern Yemen Airs Sour Relations with Riyadh

In the early hours of April 26, the Southern Transitional Council (STC), citing a conspiracy against the southern cause, declared self-governance and a state of emergency across the entire former South Yemen, and called on the masses to rally around its political leadership. The first evidence of the STC implementing its self-rule declaration came at the Central Bank of Yemen headquarters in Aden

The Yemen Exchange – An Intensive Online Course on Yemen

The Fifth Yemen Exchange is an abbreviated intensive online version of the Yemen Exchange organized by the Sana’a Center and The Exchange Foundation. The course is designed to provide unique access to information, perspectives, updates and analysis on Yemen for both those seeking to develop a working background on the country as well as those […]

What Happens After Hadi?

It is usually a losing game to predict how many days or years an Arab leader has left in power — even those entering their 80s or 90s. Nevertheless, locally, regionally, and internationally, officials and stakeholders involved in the Yemen file have been increasingly asking in apprehensive whispers: “What if President Hadi dies?”

The Battle of Marib: Houthis Threaten Yemeni Government Stronghold

Following the fall of Al-Hazm, the capital of Al-Jawf governorate, to the armed Houthi movement at the end of February, all eyes have turned to neighboring Marib. The wealthiest governorate in the north, Marib has oil and gas wells, the Safer oil refinery, and a major power station that had supplied most of Yemen with electricity before the war.

The US in Yemen: Facilitating Disaster, Dodging Culpability

A man wearing the MAGA hat stands listening to Donald Trump at his inauguration on January 20, 2017 in the District of Columbia, Washington DC // Photo: Shutterstock/eddtoro Commentary by Holly Topham and Ziad Al-Eryani In March 2015, then-US President Barack Obama signed off on measures to support the newly formed Saudi-led coalition in Yemen.[1] […]

Five Years of the UN Security Council Toeing the Saudi Line

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres meets with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman on March 28, 2018 // Photo: UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe Commentary by Waleed Alhariri and Nickolas Ask  When the United Nations Security Council took a position on the Yemen war five years ago, it quite naturally supported the interests of some of its […]

Yemen, Five Years On and Now a Stranger to My Country

Passengers board a Yemenia airplane preparing to depart on September 8, 2018, from Sayoun International Airport in Hadramawt governorate, about 600 kilometers east of Sana’a // Photo: Sala al-Sakkaf Commentary by Rim Mugahed My work developing hotel profiles for online bookings brings me in direct contact with hotel owners and managers. The work is good, […]

Yemen’s Fate Hinges on the Economy

An internally displaced woman carries a dish of bread she is selling to provide for herself and her family of five, in the Makbna area in Taiz on January 12, 2017 // Photo: Khalid Al-Saeed Commentary by Anthony Biswell High-level policymakers working on Yemen often resemble firefighters: moving from crisis to crisis, rarely affording themselves […]

Sana’a From March 2015 to Today: A Study in Authoritarian Oppression

The Souk al-Milh (the Salt Market) in Sana’a’s Old City on May 8, 2019 // Photo: Asem Alposi Commentary by Salam Al-Harbi Five years following the intervention of the Saudi-led coalition into the conflict in Yemen, the manifestations of destruction and war in the Yemeni capital Sana’a are evident. Intensive bombing by coalition aircraft in […]

Five Years of Failure: The Dismal Performance of the Hadi Government

Yemeni President Abdo Rabbu Mansour Hadi at the 29th Arab League summit in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, April 15, 2018 // Photo: SPA Commentary by Abdulghani Al-Iryani The most appropriate way to chronicle the performance of the internationally recognized Yemeni government since the outbreak of war in the country is by listing its failures. The five […]

Love Thy Neighbor: Saudi Arabia Needs Regional Help to End the Yemen War

Emirati Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, Yemeni President Abdo Rabbu Mansour Hadi and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman arrive for the signing of the Riyadh Agreement on November 5, 2019 // Photo: SPA Commentary by Elana DeLozier A lot can change in five years. At the outset of the war, the Gulf Cooperation […]

End the War Before the Pandemic

The Sana’a Center Editorial ‘Operation Decisive Storm’ was a moniker meant to convey a sense of speed but instead became a synonym for hubris and failure. The regional military coalition intervening in Yemen chalked up another anniversary this March – five years since Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates led the way into a […]

Five Years Since Decisive Storm – The Yemen Review, March 2020

Pro-government tribesmen stand guard at the border between Marib and Al-Jawf governorates on March 31, 2020 // Photo Credit: Ali Owaida The Sana’a Center Editorial End the War Before the Pandemic ‘Operation Decisive Storm’ was a moniker meant to convey a sense of speed but instead became a synonym for hubris and failure. The regional […]

Developing Yemen’s Fishing Industry

The fishing industry in Yemen faces many structural challenges that have limited its production and potential contribution to overall economic output. Development of the industry’s infrastructure, human capacity and regulation was already poor prior to the outbreak of the ongoing armed conflict in Yemen.

Taiz at the Intersection of the Yemen War

The wider Yemen war is made up of various individual conflicts and collaborations among local and regional actors, and there is no place where these intricacies intersect more than Taiz

Yemen and COVID-19: What Needs to be Done

A Yemeni patient, recently returned from Egypt, presented to the emergency room of a hospital in Aden this month with flu-like symptoms — a fever and a cough. After taking his history and a few other details, he was provisionally diagnosed with the novel coronavirus disease, COVID-19.

UN Experts Detail Abuses in Yemen; Security Council Shrugs

By Gregory Johnsen From the beginning of the Yemen conflict in 2015, the United Nations Security Council has been quick to condemn the armed Houthi movement. Initially, at least, this made sense. The Houthis are a non-state actor that seized power in a coup. The Yemeni government, led by President Abdo Rabbu Mansour Hadi, is […]

“So now that the Houthis have won…” – Q&A with Abdulghani Al-Iryani

Photo Credit: Sala Al-Sakkaf Yemeni analyst and researcher, Abdulghani Al-Iryani, recently joined the Sana’a Center as a senior researcher after postings with the United Nations Office of the Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for Yemen (OSESGY), the UNDP Mission in Hudaydah and decades of work for international organizations. Drawing on his knowledge, experience and rare […]

Where is Saudi Arabia Headed in Yemen?

Commentary by Thomas Juneau Saudi Arabia launched its military intervention in Yemen in March 2015, initially at the head of a coalition of 10 states, with the official objective of re-establishing the government of President Abdo Rabbu Mansour Hadi in the capital, Sana’a, from where it had been expelled the previous September by the Houthis. […]

Founder’s Death a Blow to AQAP, but not Fatal

Commentary by Hussam Radman When Qasim al-Raymi mourned his predecessor and lifelong friend, he said the 2015 US drone strike that killed Nasir al-Wuhayshi had fulfilled the Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) leader’s dream of martyrdom. Following Al-Raymi’s own death in a US military operation this January in Yemen, his assassination has stirred debate […]

The End of AQAP as a Global Threat

Commentary by Gregory D. Johnsen More than 15 years ago, in November 2003, the United States and the then Yemeni government of President Ali Abdullah Saleh defeated the first iteration of Al-Qaeda in Yemen. That victory did not last long. Less than two-and-a-half years later, in February 2006, 23 Al-Qaeda suspects tunneled out of a […]

Capture of Al-Hazm Positions Houthis Well, Militarily and Politically

Commentary by Maged Al-Madhaji The fall of Al-Jawf to the armed Houthi movement significantly changes the course of the war in Yemen, militarily clearing the Houthis’ path to move into oil-rich Marib governorate, as well as politically and diplomatically in ongoing not-so-secret negotiations between the group and Saudi Arabia.  Al-Jawf’s capital, Al-Hazm, fell at the […]

Humanitarian Agencies as Prisoners of War

The Sana’a Center Editorial The international relief agencies themselves have become prisoners to the war in Yemen, with their efforts having been mutated from helping to address the country’s suffering into prolonging it. The principal belligerents on one side – Saudi Arabia and until recently the United Arab Emirates, heavily backed by the United States […]

The War Over Aid – The Yemen Review, January/February 2020

Taiz city, on the evening of February, 12, 2020 // Photo Credit: Ahmed Basha The Sana’a Center Editorial Humanitarian Agencies as Prisoners of War The international relief agencies themselves have become prisoners to the war in Yemen, with their efforts having been mutated from helping to address the country’s suffering into prolonging it. The principal […]

How Iran’s Islamic Revolution Does, and Does Not, Influence Houthi Rule in Northern Yemen

A Houthi-organized protest against US President Donald Trump’s proposed Israeli-Palestinian peace plan, where many carried the Ansar Allah emblem, known as “the scream”, which reads: “God is great, death to America, death to Israel, a curse upon the Jews, victory to Islam” on January 31, 2020, in Sana’a. By Mohammed Almahfali & James Root Introduction […]

Sana’a Center Non-Resident Fellowships — Applications Open

The Sana’a Center is seeking to expand its network of non-resident fellows in an effort to further explore relations and ties between Yemen and the global community. At this time, we are particularly looking for applicants with a special interest in Russia, Latin America, the Horn of Africa or Malaysia. Non-resident fellowships with the Sana’a […]

Second Forum on Local Peace Building Efforts in Shabwa and Al-Mahra concludes

(Addis Ababa, Ethiopia) The second Shabwa and Al-Mahra Strategic Forum, hosted by the Sana’a Center for Strategic Studies and the Oxford Research Group, was held February 1 – 3, 2020 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The forum discussed methodologies for strategic planning and mechanisms to bolster peace efforts on a national level in Yemen, and in the Shabwa […]

War’s Elusive End – The Yemen Annual Review 2019

The Old City of Sana’a, July 24, 2019 // Photo Credit: Asem Alposi   Foreword The Sana’a Center’s Yemen Annual Review 2019 is a comprehensive survey and analysis of the year’s events related to Yemen. In the Executive Summary below you will find overviews of each section and tables with their corresponding subsections, each hyperlinked […]

Yemen Economic Bulletin: The War for Monetary Control Enters a Dangerous New Phase

Old Yemeni rial banknotes on display in a shop window in Souq al-Melh (Salt Market) in the Old City of Sana’a // Photo Credit: Doaa Sudam  By Anthony Biswell  Executive Summary Since September 2016, competing branches of the Central Bank of Yemen (CBY) have operated from either side of the frontlines in the country’s ongoing […]

Abdulghani Al-Iryani Joins the Sana’a Center

Yemen’s prominent analyst and researcher, Abdulghani Al-Iryani, joins the Sana’a Center team as a senior researcher as of January 2020. With  more than three decades of political and development research experience, Al-Iryani’s work will focus on the peace process, conflict analysis and transformations of the Yemeni state.

Developing Human Capital

As part of the “Rethinking Yemen’s Economy” initiative, a group of education and healthcare specialists, private sector actors, and civil servants, including representatives of the Development Champions, convened in Amman, Jordan, on August 24-25, 2019, for a workshop on Yemen’s human capital. This policy brief presents some of Yemen’s human capital indicators before and during the current conflict, while highlighting some of the obstacles to gathering required statistical data. It also presents recommendations to strengthen human capital in Yemen at the macro-level.

One of 3.65 Million Stories: A Yemeni Journey of Displacement

A child overlooks the Jabal Zaid camp for internally displaced people in western Taiz governorate where his family are sheltered, October 5, 2019 // Photo Credit: Ahmed Basha. By Sala Khaled On returning from work one evening, my house was unusually quiet. Only my sister was home, and she was packing up a few things. […]

The Yemen Syllabus

Prepared by Sana’a Center for Strategic Studies This document aims to guide readers toward substantive and important publications related to Yemen. Section A includes suggestions on how to get accurate and up-to-date information on the country. Section B lists academics and analysts who have written on Yemen. Section C outlines what the Sana’a Center views […]

The Minefield of Combating Corruption in Yemen

The Sana’a Center Editorial Among the less prominent, but no less crucial, aspects of the Riyadh Agreement, signed November 5 by Yemen’s internationally recognized government and the Southern Transitional Council (STC), are its commitments to combating corruption. Many in Aden and across the south blame the lack of public services and constant electricity blackouts there […]

Negotiation and Deescalation – The Yemen Review, November 2019

 The village of Al-Amir in the Haraz mountains, November 2, 2019 // Photo Credit: Mohammed Mansur  The Sana’a Center Editorial The Minefield of Combating Corruption in Yemen Among the less prominent, but no less crucial, aspects of the Riyadh Agreement, signed November 5 by Yemen’s internationally recognized government and the Southern Transitional Council (STC), are […]

REPORT LAUNCHING EVENT: A Gendered Crisis: Understanding the Experiences of Yemen’s War

On Sunday December 15, 2019, the Sana’a Center for Strategic Studies and the Swedish Embassy held a report launching event at the Rotana Hotel in Amman, Jordan. A Gendered Crisis: Understanding the Experiences of Yemen’s War explores how gender norms have shaped Yemenis’ experience of conflict, and how conflict is reshaping gender norms in Yemen.

A Gendered Crisis: Understanding the Experiences of Yemen’s War

Few Yemenis have been spared the catastrophic impact of the Yemen War, but prevailing gender norms mean women and girls, and men and boys, have experienced the conflict differently. This report explores how gender norms have shaped Yemenis’ experience of conflict, and how conflict is reshaping gender norms in Yemen.

Forum on Local Peace Building Efforts in Shabwa and Al-Mahra concludes

The first Shabwa and Al-Mahra Strategic Forum, hosted by the Sana’a Center for Strategic Studies and the Oxford Research Group, was held December 4 – 6, 2019 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

Signing Over Sovereignty

The Sana’a Center Editorial History will likely record the Riyadh Agreement as a game-changing moment in the ongoing Yemeni conflict – how exactly the game will change is still far from certain. What the agreement signed on November 5 in the Saudi capital may mean is that for the first time since the war began […]

Riyadh Picks Up the Pieces – The Yemen Review, October 2019

The Al-Masabah area of Taiz City, as seen from Mount Al-Jahoury on October 10, 2019 // Photo Credit: Anas Al-Hajj The Sana’a Center Editorial Signing Over Sovereignty History will likely record the Riyadh Agreement as a game-changing moment in the ongoing Yemeni conflict – how exactly the game will change is still far from certain. […]

The Riyadh Agreement: Saudi Arabia Takes the Helm in Southern Yemen

The most important aspect of the Riyadh Agreement that was signed in the Saudi capital today between the internationally recognized Yemeni government and the Southern Transitional Council (STC) is that, if fully implemented, it will mean that Saudi Arabia will assume ultimate responsibility for southern Yemen politically, militarily and in terms of security, with the United Arab Emirates relinquishing its authority over its Yemeni proxies there.

The Fourth Yemen Exchange Conference Concludes

 (Beirut, Lebanon) – The fourth Yemen Exchange conference, hosted by the Sana’a Center for Strategic Studies, was held October 21-26, 2019, in Beirut, Lebanon. The conference offered a platform for a diverse range of Yemeni speakers and foreign experts to present their views and expertise on Yemen-related subjects and recent developments. Over 30 Yemeni speakers […]

The Brinksmanship of a SAFER Disaster

It is sadly common for belligerents to show wanton disregard for the health and welfare of civilian populations during war. What makes the warring parties in Yemen exceptional in this regard is the sheer scale of devastation they are willing to visit upon their fellow Yemenis in the pursuit of relatively trivial gains. 

Aramco’s Ashoura – The Yemen Review, September 2019

Following a Houthi directive, Ashoura commemorations were held in the Yemeni capital Sana’a on the Airport Road on September 10, as well as in other areas under the group’s control. //Photo credit: Asem Alposi The Sana’a Center Editorial The Brinksmanship of a SAFER Disaster It is sadly common for belligerents to show wanton disregard for […]

A Yemeni Travel Odyssey: Unpredictable Airports and Risky Roads

Passengers board a Yemenia airplane preparing to depart on September 8, 2018, from Sayoun International Airport in the Hadramawt governorate, about 600 kilometers east of Sana’a, Yemen // Photo Credit: Sala al-Sakkaf. By Aisha al-Warraq Sitting in departures at Queen Alia International Airport in Amman, a backlog of WhatsApp messages ping in upon connecting to […]

How Yemen Brought Saudi Arabia and the UAE to the Brink of Divorce

Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates’ military intervention in Yemen, born out of limited planning and ill-defined objectives, has grown ever more complex and protracted. Geopolitical fragmentation, shifting alliances and sub-conflicts have accelerated in Yemen since the Saudi-led coalition entered the fray in 2015. 

Restructuring Public Finances in Yemen

Even before the current conflict, Yemen’s public finances suffered from an overdependence on energy exports, one of the lowest tax collection rates in the world, and chronic budget and balance of payments deficits. The government’s consistent operating deficits were funded through domestic debt instruments – drawing investment away from the private sector – borrowing from its own central bank, and foreign loans.

Seen Only in a Saudi Shadow: Why the US Misunderstands and Missteps in Yemen

The United States does not have a Yemen policy. This shouldn’t come as much of a surprise: the United States has never had a Yemen policy. What it has – what it has always had – is a Saudi policy that dictates and determines its actions in Yemen. For the US, Yemen is an add-on country, small enough and unimportant enough to be out-sourced. Periodically, of course, there are moments of crisis that demand more focused attention from US policymakers.

Inflated Beyond Fiscal Capacity: The Need to Reform the Public Sector Wage Bill

This policy brief addresses the issue of Yemen’s bloated public sector. Due to decades of corruption and patronage appointments, among other factors, public sector salaries were already a source of fiscal stress prior to the ongoing war. Previous efforts to downsize the public sector, notably those supported by the World Bank, produced few tangible results, as this brief outlines.

The Sana’a Center is Seeking a Full-Time Translator

**This position has been filled and applications are no longer being accepted** The Sana’a Center for Strategic Studies is seeking a full-time Arabic-to-English/English-to-Arabic Translator. As an independent Yemeni research center, we occupy the unique position of being headquartered in Sana’a, operating in all areas of Yemen, and maintaining access with almost all local, regional and […]

Priorities for Private Sector Recovery in Yemen: Reforming the Business and Investment Climate

Executive Summary The business and investment climate for private sector actors in Yemen has long been challenging. The current conflict has expanded and magnified these changes such that today Yemen is last or near last in a host of global business competitiveness indexes. Many businesses across the country have closed and moved their capital elsewhere, […]

Where Coalitions Come to Die

Yemen is the cemetery of invaders, or so the ancient proverb goes, and today it is certainly the burial ground of foreign military coalitions. In 2015, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) sent their armed forces to lead a regional intervention into Yemen, thinking it would last only weeks.

The Southern Implosion – The Yemen Review, August 2019

August saw the Saudi-Emirati military coalition implode as its partners in southern Yemen turned on each other in dramatic fashion. This followed a Houthi strike on a military camp in Aden on August 1 that killed a top southern commander and provided the catalyst for a separatist group’s takeover of the city, which is the interim capital of Yemen’s internationally recognized government. 

The March on Al-Mahra

The Sana’a Center Editorial The reasons the Yemen War began are fundamentally different from why it continues today. All parties to the war – local, regional, and international – have exploited the chaos and collapse of the state to pursue their own vested interests. Among these: powerful actors in the armed Houthi movement have accrued […]

An Interim Capital of Carnage – The Yemen Review, July 2019

Members of the Security Belt forces stand at attention in Aden 15 minutes before dozens were killed in an attack on their military ceremony on August 1, 2019 // Photo Credit: Rajeh Al-O’mary The Sana’a Center Editorial The March on Al-Mahra The reasons the Yemen War began are fundamentally different from why it continues today. […]

Transitional Government in Post-Conflict Yemen

This policy brief offers recommendations to maximize the effectiveness of governance in post-conflict Yemen – whatever the composition or structure of the government. It presents three case studies on government models previously introduced in Yemen, Tunisia and Lebanon after periods of instability. These case studies offer useful lessons on the challenges, risks and opportunities of forming transitional governments in post-conflict contexts.

Local Visions for Peace in Marib

The Sana’a Center for Strategic Studies and Oxford Research Group (ORG) are leading a year-long pilot project to build local capacity for inclusive strategic thinking and dialogue in two of Yemen’s most stable governorates, Marib and Hadramawt. The project rethinks long-held assumptions about the form that the peace process should take. Instead of resorting to top-down centralized frameworks with regards to peace-making efforts, the project seeks to identify otherwise underrepresented parties for inclusion in any renewed and potentially restructured peace process. By training local actors in Marib and Hadramawt in the ORG-pioneered collective strategic thinking model, the project creates space for them to define their core needs within the governorates and requirements for investing in the peace process.

Local Visions for Peace in Hadramawt

With the objective of moving towards a resolution of the ongoing conflict in Yemen, the Sana’a Center for Strategic Studies and Oxford Research Group (ORG) are leading a year-long pilot project to build local capacity for inclusive strategic thinking and dialogue in two of Yemen’s relatively stable regions, Marib and Hadramawt. The project rethinks long-held assumptions about the form that the peace process should take. Instead of resorting to top-down centralized frameworks with regards to peace-making efforts, the project seeks to identify otherwise under-represented parties for inclusion in any renewed and potentially restructured peace process. By training local actors in Marib and Hadramawt in the ORG-pioneered collective strategic thinking model, the project creates space for them to define their core needs within the governorates and requirements for investing in the peace process.

The Repercussions of War on Women in the Yemeni Workforce

Dr. Fawziah Al-Ammar and Hannah Patchett Executive Summary This policy brief sheds light on how the ongoing conflict in Yemen has affected women’s participation in the workforce. It finds that the protracted conflict has, on the one hand, pushed more women into the workforce and new labor markets, in some cases into professions previously dominated […]

War by Remote Control

The Sana’a Center Editorial The Yemen conflict is quickly becoming a model for how a non-state actor can effectively employ unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), commonly known as drones, as a force equalizer in 21st-century wars.  Particularly in 2019, Houthi forces’ deployment of explosive-laden drones on long-range kamikaze missions has allowed them to continually extract costs […]

Drone Wars – The Yemen Review, June 2019

Algharbi Al-aala village perched on the edge of a cliff in western Mahweet governorate, pictured June 25, 2019 // Photo Credit: Asem Alposi The Sana’a Center Editorial War by Remote Control The Yemen conflict is quickly becoming a model for how a non-state actor can effectively employ unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), commonly known as drones, as […]

Yemen’s Al-Mahra: From Isolation to the Eye of a Geopolitical Storm

Mahri Tribesmen and local protesters, who had been demonstrating against Saudi forces seizing control of the al-Ghaydah City airport in al-Mahra governorate, celebrate after reaching an agreement with Saudi officers to return the airport to civilian control, July 13, 2018. The Saudi forces later reneged on the deal.      Text & photos by Yahya […]

Our Turn: Four Years of Growth, Shaping Debate on Yemen

Distinguished readers, This month marks an anniversary for us at the Sana’a Center: it has been four years since our first publication went online. In that short and intense time, we have grown from what was a spark of an idea in a Yemeni diwan into Yemen’s leading independent research center. We have grown from […]

The Yemen Exchange – An Intensive Course on Yemen

The Yemen Exchange is an intensive course offered by the Sana’a Center for Strategic Studies (Sana’a Center) in partnership with The Exchange. Held in Beirut, Lebanon, the course is designed to provide unique access to information and analysis on Yemen for both those seeking to develop a working background on the country as well as those already thoroughly-versed in Yemeni dynamics. During the six-day program, participants from around the world listen to and engage with Yemeni politicians, bureaucrats, civil society actors, tribal figures, business leaders, academics and various Yemen experts to gain insight and critical knowledge about the country from a wide range of perspectives.

Yemen’s Role in Moscow’s Mideast Comeback

Russia, unlike many Western countries, is in direct contact with all parties to the Yemen war. It accepts the internationally recognized Yemeni government, yet does not condemn the armed Houthi movement. Russian diplomats affirm support for a unified Yemen but are willing to meet with southern separatists. Moscow rejects Saudi accusations that Iran is arming Houthi forces. At the same time, it is increasingly courting Gulf Arab monarchies, deepening its economic and defense partnerships with the Saudis and their key ally in the Yemen war, the United Arab Emirates.

Al-Bayda’s Tribal Dynamics Continue to Elude US Counterterrorism Policy

Yekla, al-Bayda governorate, the site of a botched 2017 US Special Forces raid that left many civilians dead // Photo Credit: Iona Craig By Farea al-Muslimi A mountain towers over hilly farmland, where the cash crop is Yemen’s finest qat and rugged dirt roads are precarious not just because of the steep cliffs they skirt. […]

The Sana’a Center is seeking a Media and Communications Officer

**This position has been filled and applications are no longer being accepted** The Sana’a Center is seeking a full-time Media and Communications Officer. As an independent Yemeni research center we occupy the unique position of being headquartered in Sana’a, operating in all areas of Yemen, and maintaining access with almost all local, regional and international […]

A Houthi Masterclass in Dystopia

The Sana’a Center Editorial The international educational non-profit organization AMIDEAST opened an office in Sana’a in 1981, before the Yemen Republic was even a country (the unification of North and South Yemen occured in 1990). Since then tens of thousands of Yemenis have passed through the institution, receiving education, training, accredited testing and exchange opportunities […]

An Environmental Apocalypse Looming on the Red Sea — The Yemen Review, May 2019

A view from the deck of the FSO SAFER oil terminal moored offshore of Ras Issa port // Photo Credit: SAFER   The Sana’a Center Editorial A Houthi Masterclass in Dystopia The international educational non-profit organization AMIDEAST opened an office in Sana’a in 1981, before the Yemen Republic was even a country (the unification of […]

The Historic and Systematic Marginalization of Yemen’s Muhamasheen Community

A Muhamasheen settlement in Mafraq Hareeb in Marib Governorate on May 31, 2019 // Photo Credit: Ali Owidha By Aisha Al-Warraq Introduction No community in Yemen has suffered the consequences of the current war as harshly as the Muhamasheen (Marginalized), a Yemeni underclass that has experienced centuries of discrimination, exploitation and poverty. The Muhamasheen (sing. […]

Yemen’s Expatriate Workforce Under Threat: The Essential Role of Remittances in Mitigating Economic Collapse

Scarce opportunities to earn a viable livelihood in Yemen have, for decades, driven hundreds of thousands of Yemenis abroad in search of work. Given chronically poor access to education in Yemen, the majority of these have been unskilled or semi-skilled laborers. The proximity of Saudi Arabia and the robustness of its oil-driven economy has made it a natural destination for most of Yemen’s expatriate labor force. The economic boom in Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states in the 1970s and 1980s, with the corresponding demand for labor, also drew many Yemenis to work in the GCC, with Saudi Arabia opening its borders to Yemenis without visa requirements.

An Unending Fast: What the Failure of the Amman Meetings Means for Yemen

By Spencer Osberg and Hannah Patchett After three days of United Nations-mediated meetings in Amman with representatives from Yemen’s divided central bank, the delegations from Sana’a and Aden arrived at no agreement aside from a commitment to meet again. Both before and during the talks, which began on May 14, the Sana’a Center met regularly […]

The UN and Yemen: The Need for Precisely Guided Diplomacy

Martin Griffiths, UN Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for Yemen, briefs the Security Council on the situation in Yemen on May 15, 2019 // Photo Credit: UN Photo/Manuel Elias Dr. Gregory D. Johnsen   Introduction The conflict in Yemen is now in its fifth year with no end in sight.[1] Like most of the world’s seemingly unsolvable […]

The Sana’a Center is Hiring a Head of Operations

**This position has been filled and applications are no longer being accepted** The Sana’a Center for Strategic Studies is seeking a full-time Head of Operations.  As Head of Operations, the selected candidate will work closely with the deputy executive director, project managers, partners, administration and financial teams. Primary duties would involve coordinating and supervising  programmatic […]

The Sana’a Center is Seeking a Full-Time Editor

**This position has been filled and applications are no longer being accepted** The Sana’a Center for Strategic Studies is expanding its editorial department and is seeking a full-time editor. The editorial department is the hub between the center’s various programs, which currently examine the socioeconomic, political, security, gender, humanitarian, and human rights issues at play […]

Game of Parliaments – The Yemen Review, April 2019

A view of Al Saleh Mosque in Sana’a, inaugurated in November 2008 and named after former President Ali Abdullah Saleh, which Houthi authorities have taken to calling “The People’s Mosque,” on April 26, 2019 // Photo Credit: Asem Alposi  The Sana’a Center Editorial Yemen’s Game of Parliaments  April saw the most powerful monarchy in the […]

Development Champions Forum Concludes Fifth Meeting

Yemen’s Development Champions Forum concluded its fifth meeting on April 29 in Amman, Jordan. Over three days, the Development Champions discussed critical economic issues in Yemen, focusing on the situation of the private sector, removing obstacles to the return of Yemeni capital post-conflict, and priorities to restructure state finances.

Al-Qaeda’s Strategic Retreat in Yemen

By Hussam Radman Executive Summary In 2015, Tanzim al-Qaeda fi Jazirat al-Arab, or al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), had established de facto rule in Yemen’s fifth largest city Mukalla, held swathes of territory in the east of the country and controlled strategic smuggling points across the country’s eastern coastline. The local franchise of the global […]

Saudi Arabia’s ‘Deportation Storm’

The Sana’a Center Editorial March marked four years since Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates led a coalition of Arab states into a military intervention in Yemen. The campaign’s initial moniker, ‘Operation Decisive Storm,’ would now seem farcical if the consequences of the conflict, which continues to rage around the country, were not so […]

Reconstruction and Recovery in Yemen: Recommendations from the Development Champions

Nearly five years of conflict in Yemen have created a humanitarian catastrophe that has brought the country to the brink of famine. The economy has collapsed and fighting has ravaged the country’s infrastructure. The reconstruction and recovery of Yemen will demand rebuilding the economy, restoring state institutions and infrastructure and repairing the social fabric. As yet, no official, donor-led, comprehensive reconstruction process is underway.

The UN’s Stockholm Syndrome – The Yemen Review, March 2019

A fishmonger in the Saddam Neighborhood Market, in al-Salakhana, Hudaydah City, sells his catch on March 25, 2019 // Photo Credit: Abduljabbar Zeyad The Sana’a Center Editorial Saudi Arabia’s ‘Deportation Storm’ March marked four years since Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates led a coalition of Arab states into a military intervention in Yemen. […]

A Grim Anniversary: Yemen After Four Years of the Saudi-led Military Intervention

The Thaba’t area of Taiz City on February 9, 2019, which has recently seen heavy clashes between Houthi and anti-Houthi forces // Photo Credit: Hussam al-Qalia’ah On March 26, 2015, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates led a coalition of Arab states in launching a military intervention in Yemen. Dubbed ‘Operation Decisive Storm’, the […]

Economic Confidence Building Measures – Civil Servant Salaries

In December 2018, 23 of Yemen’s leading socioeconomic experts convened in Amman during the Fourth Development Champions Forum to discuss economic confidence-building measures in the peace process in Yemen. The discussions at the Forum, which is part of the Rethinking Yemen’s Economy initiative, touched on a number of economic mechanisms that could be implemented to build confidence. These included supporting the Central Bank as an independent institution that serves all of Yemen; ensuring the deposit of public revenues in all governorates at the Central Bank headquarters in Aden; and opening ports and ensuring the free movement of goods, humanitarian aid and people between governorates. The Forum focused on the payment of salaries and pensions to all civil servants due to the critical importance of the issue; this policy brief presents the outcomes of this discussion.

The Apology of Aid

Of the 40 nations and international organizations that offered up funds at last month’s High Level Pledging Event for the Humanitarian Crisis in Yemen, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates were by far the largest donors. Between them they committed more than half of the US$2.62 billion raised. These two nations, given how they have pursued their military intervention in Yemen since 2015, also bear primary responsibility for creating and perpetuating the country’s humanitarian crisis. The next largest donor was the United Kingdom which, along with the United States, has provided crucial political and military support to the Saudi-led military coalition and leveraged its permanent seat at the UN Security Council to undermine attempts to hold the parties of the conflict accountable for war crimes.

Diplomacy Sinking at Hudaydah Port – The Yemen Review, February 2019

Al-Muhdhar mosque in Tareem, Hadramawt governorate, which appears on the 500 rial Yemeni banknote, is thought to have been built in the 5th century by the ruler at the time, Omar al-Muhdhar bin Abdul Rahman al-Saqqaf. The surrounding town is a historic center for Islamic scholarship. Pictured here on February 3, 2019 // Photo Credit: […]

Addressing Social Fragmentation in Yemen

After nearly five years of conflict, Yemen is more fragmented than at any time in recent history. The war has exacerbated long-standing grievances and created new fractures in Yemen’s social fabric. While the origins of the conflict lie in a political struggle for power, fighting has awakened a sectarian narrative, revived calls for secession in the south, and generally eroded Yemen’s social cohesion. These fissures are a legacy of the war and they threaten to destabilize the country long after a political peace settlement is achieved.

Federalism in Yemen: A Catalyst for War, the Present Reality, and the Inevitable Future

The 2014 proposal to partition Yemen into a federal system was one of the major causes of the current conflict. The plan, proposed by President Abdo Rabbu Mansour Hadi, was supposedly intended to put the country on the path to a more peaceful future by addressing long standing regional grievances toward the central government. These resentments stem largely from a sense of injustice regarding inequitable development in the country and the monopolization of political, economic and military authority in the capital, Sana’a. However, rather than achieving the goal of ensuring peace and the equitable distribution of resources in the country, the flawed and rushed proposal served to further fragment the country, exacerbate divisions, and harden demands for increased local autonomy.

Researching Local Peace Prospects in Marib and Hadramawt

The Hadramawt and Marib Strategic Forum held its third meeting in Amman, Jordan on February 24 – 27. The meeting was organized by the Sana’a Center for Strategic Studies and the Oxford Research Group.

Trump and Counterterrorism in Yemen: The First Two Years

A US military MV-22B Osprey aircraft, similar to the one that crashed near the Yemeni village of al-Ghayil during a US Special Forces raid shortly after President Donald Trump took office in January 2017 // Photo Credit: DVIDSHUB By Gregory Johnsen Introduction The United States (US) has traditionally viewed Yemen as both a counterterrorism problem to […]

The Sana’a Center Speaks at the High-Level Pledging Event for the Humanitarian Crisis in Yemen

The 2019 High-Level Pledging Event for the Humanitarian Crisis in Yemen brought together 40 countries and dozens of international organizations in Geneva, Switzerland, on February 26. The panel discussion, entitled ‘The Challenges of Food Security and the Role of the Economy’  featured Amal Nasser, non-resident economist at the Sana’a Center, among its speakers. Also speaking […]

US Military’s Ambiguous Definition of a ‘Legitimate’ Target

US Air Force personnel practice tactical operations for a MQ-1 Predator drone at Holloman Air Force Base in New Mexico, US // Photo Credit: US Air Force Commentary by Gregory Johnsen After three months of no official drone strikes in Yemen, the United States carried out its first strike of 2019 on New Year’s Day. […]

Revitalizing Yemen’s Banking Sector: Necessary Steps for Restarting Formal Financial Cycles and Basic Economic Stabilization

By Farea al-Muslimi Executive Summary Yemen’s banking sector faces a litany of challenges stemming from the country’s ongoing economic collapse and the warring parties’ competition for financial control. The most critical challenge is the division of the central bank between Sana’a and Aden and the fierce competition between these two branches over the administration and […]

Stockholm Agreement Meets Yemeni Reality – The Yemen Review, January 2019

The sun sets behind a Dragon Blood Tree in the Deksem area of Socotra Island on January 14, 2019 // Photo Credit: Naif Alnajm Contents Stockholm Agreement Meets Yemeni Reality Overview: Lofty Aims Face Challenging Reception UN Efforts to Support the Agreement Stockholm Agreement’s Shaky Start in Yemen Hurdles to Implementation in Hudaydah Cammaert’s Early […]

Priorities for Government Policy in Yemen

This policy brief outlines recommendations for the immediate priorities of the Government of Yemen, both to achieve quick wins and to prepare the ground for medium and long-term success. These recommendations are the outcomes of in-depth discussions held during the fourth Development Champions Forum convened on December 8-11, 2018, in Amman, Jordan. They are designed to offer Prime Minister Maeen Abdulmalik Saeed and his cabinet a set of practical measures to help the government build on the momentum and increased visibility it achieved in the final quarter of 2018.

Houthis Must Release Awfa Al-Naami Immediately

The undersigned local, regional, and international organizations condemn in the strongest possible terms the unlawful detention of Saferworld Country Director Awfa Al-Naami by Houthi authorities in Sana’a, Yemen. We call for her immediate and unconditional release.

Workshops in Marib and Hadramawt to discuss the provinces’ urgent priorities and issues

The Sana’a Center for Strategic Studies and the Oxford Research Group held a series of workshops in Yemen’s Hadramawt and Marib on January 20-29 to explore opportunities for peace between the two governorates.

Over 50 participants, including academics, activists, local authority representatives and journalists, discussed local issues related to prospects for peace and stability. The workshops drew a high proportion of women.

Yemen in 2018: Beyond the Brink

The Sana’a Center Editorial Yemen is no longer “on the brink” of catastrophe. Rather, it has already been pushed into the abyss and therein continues to fall. After four years of war, Yemen has suffered the destruction of its infrastructure, economy, social fabric, and much more. Yemenis are a nation traumatized by human loss and […]

Starvation, Diplomacy and Ruthless Friends: The Yemen Annual Review 2018

Hani al-Moalem overlooks Taiz from the wreckage of his café. He used to own six such businesses in the city, all of which the war has left either fully or partially destroyed // Photo Credit: Anas al-Hajj The Sana’a Center Editorial: Beyond the Brink Yemen is no longer “on the brink” of catastrophe. Rather, it […]

Yemen’s obligations to respect, protect, and fulfil the right to mental health

Submission to the UN Universal Periodic Review for Yemen Submitted by: Sana’a Center for Strategic Studies Columbia Law School Human Rights Clinic Brown School at Washington University in St. Louis Third Cycle 32nd Session Human Rights Council January-February 2019   I. Summary The Sana’a Center for Strategic Studies (Sana’a Center), Columbia Law School Human Rights […]

International Community Must Respond to Mental Health Crisis in Yemen, Say Human Rights Experts

The Columbia Law School Human Rights Clinic and Sana’a Center for Strategic Studies traveled to the UN to bring attention to the grave situation of mental health in Yemen, and to push for improvements in how the Government of Yemen and the international community respond to the mental health needs of Yemenis.

Yemen’s War Profiteers Are Potential Spoilers of the Peace Process

The Sana’a Center Editorial Even as economic and state collapse have propelled millions of Yemenis toward famine, the war economy that has developed over almost four years of conflict has also allowed a select cadre of individuals to become incredibly wealthy. These people – many of whom hold the highest positions of authority on either […]

The Yemen Review – November 2018

Residents in the Tha’abat area of Taiz City inspect a home in November that was damaged by shelling from Houthi forces // Photo Credit: Anas Alhajj Executive Summary Representatives from Yemen’s warring parties sat at a negotiating table for the first time in more than two years at the beginning of December. The peace consultations – […]

The Iran Nuclear Deal and Yemen’s War: An Opportunity for EU Statecraft

By Farea al-Muslimi Introduction As the foreign military intervention in Yemen approaches its fourth year, world events have come together to create a rare window of opportunity to bring the conflict to an end. This, however, will require a powerful global actor to sheppard the process, and the European Union is currently the most well-positioned […]

Islah’s Political and Military Ascent in Taiz

Since August 2018, the Yemeni Congregation for Reform, otherwise known as the Islah party, has taken major steps towards consolidating political and military power in Taiz City. Islah officially supports the internationally recognized Yemeni government of President Abdo Rabbu Mansour Hadi; however, the party’s increasing capacity to act independently in Taiz represents a further erosion of the state’s purview within areas the government supposedly controls. Islah’s rise in Taiz, if solidified, is likely to complicate United Nations-led efforts to secure a peace agreement between the Houthi leadership and the internationally recognized Yemeni government. It also threatens potential post-conflict efforts to stabilize the country’s political and security environments and establish effective state sovereignty.

The Yemen Review – October 2018

Executive Summary: In October, the United Nations warned that Yemen could become the worst famine the world has seen in a century, with some 14 million people – half the population – facing starvation. This crisis is primarily due to the collapsing value of the Yemeni rial: Yemen is overwhelmingly dependent on imports to feed itself […]

Beyond the Business as Usual Approach: Combating Corruption in Yemen

Corruption, or the abuse of power for private gain, is deeply entrenched in the Yemeni political economy. For decades Yemen has witnessed state capture, with political leaders at the highest level extracting rents from state institutions to benefit a select few. Administrative corruption, too, has been commonplace in Yemen: low-level bribery and favoritism have become a part of everyday life. There is arguably a cultural acceptance — even an expectation — of corruption in politics and business, as informal networks have come to wield more influence than official institutions.

Policy Brief: Corruption in Yemen’s War Economy

Executive Summary Corruption, or the abuse of power for private gain, has been deeply entrenched in the Yemeni political economy for decades. Over the course of the ongoing conflict, however, as the war has fragmented and regionalized the country, state capture in Yemen has become far more complex. In the war economy, patronage networks are […]

What Does the New Head of the Internationally Recognized Government Mean for Yemen?

Days ago, Yemeni President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi sworn in Maeen Abdul Malik as his new prime minister, making him the latest member of the government-in-exile in the Saudi capital of Riyadh. This followed Hadi’s sacking of the previous prime minister, Ahmed Obaid bin Dagher who, since his appointment in April 2016, had become the president’s partner in failure. Notably, bin Dagher had become prime minister following an implicit coup which he and Hadi had launched against his predecessor, Khaled Bahah. So what is the context and background of this new appointment, and what will its implications be?

Civil Society Statement: 10 Priorities for Peace and Justice in Yemen

The undersigned local, regional, and international organizations follow with great concern the military operations across Yemen and the collapsed September 2018 Geneva peace talks. The Yemen war has led to an economic and social collapse, including a currency crisis which puts millions of Yemenis on the verge of famine.

Advertisement for local researchers

The Sana’a Center for Strategic Studies is calling on Yemeni researchers to submit proposals for articles regarding the following topic areas: The UN-led peace process in Yemen; the post-conflict transitional process; US interventions in Yemen.

Generating new employment opportunities in Yemen

Decades of political instability and cyclical armed conflict have curtailed Yemen’s economic growth, job creation and labor productivity. Before the current conflict, much of the country’s working population was engaged in unskilled labor, working in rural agriculture or informally employed in small businesses. More recently, the ongoing conflict has destroyed normal commerce and left millions of Yemenis without a means of supporting themselves or their families. Even those not directly affected by the fighting now face brutal economic hardship. The economic crisis has become the primary driver of what the United Nations has called the world’s largest humanitarian catastrophe. In the midst of this crisis, the need for job creation is paramount.

Famine at Hand Without a Reunified Central Bank to Protect the Yemeni Rial

The Sana’a Center Editorial The largest threat facing millions of Yemenis today is not the violence of war but the collapse of the local currency the war has brought on. Put differently, while bullets and bombs harm the individuals on the receiving end, a collapsing currency – in a country overwhelmingly dependant on imports – […]

The Yemen Review – September 2018

In September, the Yemeni rial’s recent decline accelerated precipitously, with the currency’s value dropping to record lows by month’s end. While the rial has been under multiple, intensifying pressures stemming from the war for several years, a large increase in the money supply – through a 30 percent increase in civil servant salaries – and the collapse of peace talks last month appear to have spurred a rial sell-off in the market.
A nation-wide fuel shortage ensued. Retail fuel stations closed en masse and prices for available petrol on the black market jumped an average of 130 percent relative to August, and as much as 230 percent in some areas.

The Need to Build State Legitimacy in Yemen

The ongoing conflict in Yemen has severely strained state legitimacy in the country. Legitimacy, a key component of state sovereignty, reflects a “social contract” between the state and the people it governs: an agreement on how power is exercised and how resources are distributed. A state’s legitimacy derives in part from its ability to deliver public services, ensure economic stability, and provide security. After three years of conflict, Yemen’s already fragile state institutions are unable to meet the most basic needs of the Yemeni people, intensifying the country’s economic and humanitarian crises.

The Sana’a Center for Strategic Studies is seeking a full-time editor

The Sana’a Center for Strategic Studies is seeking a full-time editor. The Center’s editorial department is the hub between the center’s various programs, which currently examine the socioeconomic, political, security, gender, humanitarian, and human rights issues at play in Yemen. As an editor you would work immediately under the chief editor and in close cooperation […]

The Sana’a Center for Strategic Studies organizes a visit of the international press to the governorate of Hadramawt

The Sanaa Center for Strategic Studies yesterday concluded an international press delegation visit to Hadramawt in eastern Yemen, where senior correspondents from major global news outlets were briefed on developments in the governorate. During the visit, which took place from September 3-7, 2018, the delegation met former Central Bank of Yemen Governor Mohammed bin Hummam at his home in Ghail Bawazir, where he gave a detailed briefing on the ongoing currency crisis and its impact on the economic and humanitarian situation in the country, as well as ways to address the collapse of the Yemeni rial and through reunifying the CBY.

The Yemen Review – August 2018

In the last six days of August the Yemeni rial entered one of its steepest and most rapid declines in value since the conflict began, resulting in sudden price spikes for basic foodstuffs. Given Yemen’s overwhelming dependence on imports to feed the population, such changes in the rial’s value have direct implications for the country’s humanitarian crisis.

Private Sector Engagement in Post-Conflict Yemen

Yemen has spent much of the past 60 years embroiled in armed conflict and political crisis, with this cyclical instability and insecurity among the primary factors that have stymied both private sector development and the establishment of a strong state with well-functioning public institutions. The vast majority of the Yemeni private sector is made up of small or very small businesses, providing almost 70 percent of working Yemenis with their livelihood. The largest employment sector within the private sector is rural agriculture, which has traditionally provided work for more than half the population.

Yemen at the UN – July 2018 Review

Executive Summary: At the end of July the Yemen conflict seemed poised to take on much broader regional and global dimensions, as Saudi Arabia halted oil shipments through the Bab al-Mandeb Strait off Yemen’s Red Sea coast. Iran declared the sea “no longer secure,” and Israel threatened military intervention if Houthi forces attempted to close […]

Local Governance in Yemen Amid Conflict and Instability

Local councils are among Yemen’s most important state institutions. Responsible for providing basic public services to millions of Yemenis, local councils represent official governance and the Yemeni state for vast swathes of the population. The intensification of the Yemen conflict since March 2015 has undermined the councils’ ability to operate effectively in most areas of the country. The councils depend heavily on central government financing and, to a lesser degree, local sources of revenue such as taxes on basic utilities and telephone usage. As such, Yemen’s precipitous economic collapse, the subsequent decline in government revenues and the incapacitation of the Central Bank of Yemen (CBY) have compromised local councils’ ability to operate. The non-payment of civil servant salaries and Yemenis’ decreased purchasing power have contributed to Yemen’s grave humanitarian crisis while limiting local councils’ ability to extract local sources of revenue.

The Third Yemen Exchange Conference Concludes

The third Yemen Exchange conference, hosted by the Sana’a Center for Strategic Studies was held in Beirut, Lebanon, from June 26 to July 1, 2018.

Challenges for Yemen’s Local Governance amid Conflict

Local councils are among Yemen’s most important state institutions. Responsible for providing basic public services to millions of Yemenis, local councils represent official governance and the Yemeni state for much of the population. The intensification of the conflict between the internationally recognized government, its regional backers and the Houthi group since March 2015, however, has heavily impacted funding and security for local councils, undermining their ability to provide services effectively in most areas of the country.
In many areas, this absence of effective official governance has created fertile ground for non-state actors to exert their influence. In the areas under Houthi control, Houthi supporters closely monitor local council activity. In the southern coastal city of Aden, local councils are caught among competing armed militias that form part of a broader power struggle between southern secessionists and the internationally recognized Yemeni government.

Yemen at the UN – June 2018 Review

In June, the Saudi-led military coalition and associated ground forces began their long-anticipated offensive against Houthi-held Hudaydah city. The ports of Hudaydah and nearby Saleef, along Yemen’s Red Sea coast, are the entry point for the majority of the country’s commercial and humanitarian imports. This creates the potential for catastrophic humanitarian fallout from the offensive given that 8.4 million Yemenis are already on the verge of famine.
United Nations Special Envoy for Yemen, Martin Griffiths, spent most of June engaged in shuttle diplomacy with the belligerent parties to the conflict, and in consultations with the UN Security Council (UNSC), pushing a plan to preempt the attack by having Houthi forces turn control of Hudaydah port over to UN monitors (see ‘The UN Special Envoy’s Plan for Hudaydah Port’).

An open letter regarding Hudaydah

The Yemen Development Champions discussed the latest developments in Hudaydah governorate while convening for the latest Development Champions Forum. The Champions are concerned by the impact of escalating military operations on the humanitarian situation in Yemen as a whole and Hudaydah governorate in specific; in addition to the damage that would be caused to vital economic infrastructure. The effect on the economic situation in the country would be catastrophic. Hudaydah governorate is the third most densely populated governorate in Yemen and has more than 36,000 economic facilities. It is home to the most important port in the country, through which the majority of goods and humanitarian aid are brought into Yemen.

Job opportunity announcement: Project coordinator

Job Title: Project coordinator Reporting to: The Sana’a Center’s Program Director Responsibility: Coordinating the work of Sana’a Center’s gender programs in Yemen. Location: Sana’a Duration: Six months, with possibility of extension subject to performance and funding.   About the Sana’a Center: The Sana’a Center for Strategic Studies is an independent think-tank that seeks to foster […]

Yemen at the UN – May 2018 Review

Executive Summary: In May, Houthi forces were clearly on the defensive across most of Yemen, in particular losing ground in Hudaydah governorate as various anti-Houthi groups, backed by Emirati airpower, advanced on Hudaydah city. A Saudi-led coalition plan for a military offensive on the city last year was derailed due to a lack of US […]

An Institutional Framework for Post-Conflict Reconstruction

The ongoing conflict in Yemen has imposed grievous costs on the country’s people, damaging lives, property and infrastructure and ravaging the country’s already fragile economy. And yet the conflict will eventually subside. While some reconstruction projects have begun, they have generally been undertaken haphazardly and not as part of a comprehensive and structured plan. Post-conflict reconstruction following the war must address the basic needs and rights of the Yemeni population and put the country on the path toward sustainable peace and development.

An Institutional Framework for Post-Conflict Reconstruction in Yemen

Previous reconstruction efforts in Yemen following conflict or natural disaster have suffered from lack of coordination with and unrealistic expectations from international donors, as well as the Yemeni government’s limited capacity for aid absorption and project implementation; as a result, there was little tangible long-term impact.
In light of lessons learned from similar post-conflict contexts and Yemen’s own history of reconstruction efforts, this policy brief proposes an institutional structure for a future reconstruction process in Yemen: a permanent, independent, public reconstruction authority that empowers and coordinates the work of local reconstruction offices, established at the local level in areas affected by conflict or natural disasters. This proposal does not arise only from these lessons learned, but also from the immediate need for such an institution to begin planning and implementing reconstruction work to the greatest extent possible.

The Sana’a Center is Seeking Interns

Yemen The Sana’a Center for Strategic Studies announces immediate openings for research interns based inside Yemen. The Sana’a Center will produce policy papers regarding post-conflict state building that would provide a reliable source of information to guide the strategic policy-making related to Yemen. The interns will have the opportunity to be part of this project […]

Yemen at the UN – April 2018 Review

In April, Saleh Ali al-Samad, a senior Houthi official and the head of the Supreme Political Council in Sana’a, was killed by an air-to-ground missile strike in Hudaydah city. Al-Samad was one of the most prominent political figures within the Houthi leadership structure and is the group’s most senior member to have been killed thus far in the conflict. His death will likely have far reaching implications for both the Houthis and the UN’s renewed mediation efforts to end the Yemen conflict.

International Neglect Fuels Risk of Mental Health Crisis in Yemen

Yemenis face serious mental health risks due to war-related trauma exposure, but the issue is being neglected by both domestic authorities and the international community, warn experts from the Sana’a Center for Strategic Studies, and Columbia University’s Human Rights Clinic and Mailman School of Public Health.

The Third Yemen Exchange: An Intensive Course on Yemen

The Yemen Exchange is an intensive course offered by the Sana’a Center for Strategic Studies (Sana’a Center) in partnership with MiddleEastWire.com. Held in Beirut, Lebanon, the course is designed to provide unique access to information and analysis on Yemen for both those seeking to develop a working background on the country and those already well versed in Yemeni dynamics. During the six-day program

Increasing the Effectiveness of the Humanitarian Response in Yemen

The second Development Champions Forum of the “Rethinking Yemen’s Economy” initiative recently brought together more than 20 of the leading socio-economic experts on Yemen to discuss the most critical challenges facing the country. Among the key topics included were the need to increase the coverage and efficiency of the campaign international humanitarian organizations and United Nations agencies are undertaking to address Yemen’s humanitarian crisis. Among the major issues the Development Champions identified during discussions were:

Yemen at the UN – March 2018 Review

Executive Summary: In March, the Saudi-led military coalition intervention in Yemen, dubbed ‘Operation Decisive Storm’, entered its fourth year. To mark the occasion, Houthi forces fired seven ballistic missiles into Saudi Arabia shortly before midnight on March 25, which the Saudi military claimed its defense systems intercepted. Riyadh responded by accusing Iran of having supplied […]

International Aid Organizations and the Yemeni Private Sector: The Need to Improve Coordination in Humanitarian Crisis Response

The current humanitarian crisis in Yemen has been precipitated by almost three years of civil war and regional military intervention, with the United Nations declaring the country the world’s largest humanitarian emergency in January 2017. At the end of last year the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) released its 2018 Humanitarian Needs Overview (HNO) in which it reported that roughly 22.2 million Yemenis were in need of some kind of humanitarian protection or assistance, of which 11.3 million were in acute need.

Yemen at the UN – February 2018 Review

Executive Summary: In February, the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) formally adopted a highly politicized UN Panel of Experts report on Yemen. The report – one aspect of which asserts Iran is in non-compliance with the UN arms embargo on Yemen – was seized upon by the United States and its allies at the UNSC […]

Yemen at the UN – January 2018 Review

In January, widespread violence erupted in Yemen’s southern port city of Aden between ostensible allies in the coalition of forces fighting on behalf of the country’s internationally recognized government. On January 21, the Southern Transition Council (STC), a secessionist group back by the United Arab Emirates, issued an ultimatum to Yemeni President Abdo Rabbu Mansour Hadi to dismiss his prime minister and other cabinet members for alleged corruption. On January 28 the ultimatum expired and clashes broke out between the Presidential Protection Forces and STC-allied armed groups, with STC forces quickly routing Hadi-allied units from positions across the city and from nearby military bases.

Restoring central bank capacity and stabilizing the rial

As part of the “Rethinking Yemen’s Economy” initiative, more than 20 of the leading socioeconomic experts on Yemen converged for the second Development Champions Forum on January 14-16 in Amman, Jordan. Among the urgent topics of discussion was the deterioration of the value of the Yemeni rial (YR), the magnifying impact this is having on the humanitarian crisis, and the need to re-empower the Central Bank of Yemen (CBY) as the steward of the rial and the economy generally. This policy brief is an outcome of those discussions, and the recommendations it includes collectively underline the need for the CBY to function in a more coherent, assertive manner – whereby its various branches operate as a united entity that is able to draft and implement monetary policies for Yemen as a whole. This paper includes further input from the Development Champions following the announcement by Saudi Arabia on January 17 of a $2 billion deposit to the CBY.

A Year of Hunger and Blood: Yemen at the UN / Special Issue – 2017 in Review

Executive Summary: In early 2017 the United Nations (UN) declared that Yemen was enduring the single largest humanitarian crisis in the world. By year’s end, UN agencies estimated that 17.8 million people in Yemen were food insecure and 8.4 million were at risk of famine. Economic and public service collapse left more than 16 million […]

Trump and the Yemen War: Misrepresenting the Houthis as Iranian proxies

By Adam Baron, Waleed Alhariri and Anthony Biswell Executive Summary: The involvement of numerous foreign actors on all sides of the Yemen war has not changed the fact that fundamentally the conflict remains tied to local dynamics. This is particularly true with regard to the Houthis, the militant group currently controlling much of Yemen’s north […]

The Last Stronghold of Yemenis: How Has the War Changed Ma’rib?

At first glance, Ma’rib appears to be an intense Yemen resisting collapse. One of the last strongholds for the “Republic of Yemen” as a state for all its citizens. This might sound as overloading the place with symbolism, but even this stems from a profound feeling that very place inspires, despite all the challenges it is facing. It also stems from the city’s stubborn clinging to its “Yemenihood” rather than “Ma’ribiness”, whereby all other Yemeni regions resort to and are nervous about tiny identities and pre-national identifications.

Yemen after Saleh

Former Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh’s killing last week reverberated throughout Yemen and the wider region. As the most dominant figure in the country for more than 30 years, the implications of his demise are formidable. To garner a deeper understanding of how the outlook has changed for the ongoing conflict and the country in […]

Yemen at the UN – November 2017 Review

Summary: In November, long-simmering tensions between the Houthis and the allied forces of former Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh erupted into armed clashes on the streets of Sana’a. Sana’a Center analysis identified a decisive factor in the battles being that the tribal groupings surrounding the capital largely abandoned Saleh; this helped Houthi fighters seize the […]

Serious Risk of Mental Health Crisis in Yemen, Say Experts

Yemenis face serious mental health risks, but the issue is being neglected, says a new study released today by the Sana’a Center for Strategic Studies, Columbia Law School’s Human Rights Clinic, and the Mailman School of Public Health. The groups announced the start of a groundbreaking new joint project to research and improve mental health in Yemen.

The Impact of War on Mental Health in Yemen: A Neglected Crisis

Much of the Yemeni population faces frequent exposure to serious stressors, harm and trauma, whether from food insecurity, unemployment, cholera, arbitrary detention, torture, indiscriminate attacks, air strikes, or weak to non-existent basic public services. The ongoing conflict in Yemen thus has immediate implications for the mental health and well-being of Yemenis.

The Sana’a Center is seeking policy and advocacy interns

The Sana’a Center for Strategic Studies (SCSS) has an immediate opening for a policy and advocacy intern to assist in the expansion of its Washington D.C. operations. Remote work is a possibility.

Sana’a Center organizes unprecedented international press visit to Yemen

The Sana’a Center for Strategic Studies organized an international press delegation visit to Yemen’s Marib governorate during the first week of November, including senior correspondents from North American and European print and broadcast media.

Yemen at the UN – October 2017 Review

Summary: In October, the annual United Nations Children and Armed Conflict report stated that Saudi Arabia was guilty of grave violations of the rights of children for its military actions in Yemen. This placed Saudi Arabia on the report’s so-called “child killer” list. Other belligerent parties to the Yemeni conflict named to the list were […]

“There are many devils” – A conversation with Governor of Taiz Ali al-Mamari

Taiz city and the wider governorate have been an active frontline in the Yemeni conflict for more than two and a half years. Fighters from the Houthi movement and allied forces of former President Ali Abdullah Saleh first stormed Taiz in early 2015, with local resistance groups soon taking up arms against them. Fighting has […]

Yemen Economic Bulletin: Renewed rapid currency depreciation and diverging monetary policy between Sana’a and Aden

Summary: Through October Yemen’s domestic currency, the rial (YR), lost almost 10 percent of its value relative to the United States dollar (USD) in market trading, dropping from YR 375 to the USD to YR 412. This drop was roughly equivalent to the loss in value over the previous six months and the second time […]

The Yemen Exchange – October 11-15, 2017

The second Yemen Exchange conference, co-hosted by the Sana’a Center for Strategic Studies and the Mideast Wire, took place October 11 – 15 in Beirut, Lebanon.

Mental Health and the Psychological Impact of War on Individuals, Families, and Communities in Yemen: A project to advance research, services, and advocacy

Executive Summary: The ongoing war in Yemen has spurred the world’s largest food security emergency and the largest cholera epidemic ever recorded. Millions have been sent into abject poverty, the nation’s economy has been destroyed, and basic public services have evaporated. At least 50,000 civilians have been killed or wounded during the conflict, with the […]

Yemen at the UN – September 2017 Review

In September, more than two dozen heads of state highlighted the plight of Yemenis and the need to end the conflict in speeches before the United Nations General Assembly.
At the 36th session of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, a resolution was adopted to establish an international group of experts to investigate human rights abuses in Yemen since the beginning of the war. This comes after more than two years of lobbying by UN officials, UN member states and human rights groups for an international inquiry into war crimes in Yemen.
In Belgium, the European Union hosted several dozen tribal leaders from Yemen in exploratory talks regarding potential new avenues for conflict resolution and track II negotiations.

The evolution of militant Salafism in Taiz

The rise of Salafi militias in the Yemeni city of Taiz has contributed to the now frequent outbursts of violence there between ostensibly pro-government factions. It has also helped foster an environment conducive to extremist groups such as al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP). If not addressed directly, these developments are likely to continue destabilizing the city and wider governorate well after any potential resolution to the larger conflict in Yemen.

Yemen at the UN – August 2017 Review

In August, a confidential draft of the United Nation’s “Children and Armed Conflict” report recommended that the Saudi-led military coalition intervening in the Yemen war be named to the so-called “child killer” list. This annual UN list names government forces, terrorist organizations and armed groups that perpetrate wanton acts of violence against children in conflicts around the world. Through the latter half of August, the Saudi-led coalition staged various UN-affiliated events at which it emphasized the breadth and depth of its humanitarian assistance to Yemen.

Yemen Economic Bulletin: How currency arbitrage has reduced the funds available to address the humanitarian crisis

The disparity between the official exchange rate and the market exchange rate of the Yemeni rial that developed during the current conflict led to large-scale profiteering through currency arbitrage. In particular, Yemeni banks exchanging foreign funds for international humanitarian organizations reaped significant profits at the expense of the intended aid recipients in Yemen.

Yemen at the UN – July 2017 Review

In July, Yemen’s cholera epidemic became the largest ever recorded in one country in a single year, with the World Health Organization recording 430,000 suspected incidents and almost 2,000 associated deaths with the disease by month’s end. This comes following the UN declaring Yemen the world’s largest food security emergency earlier this year.

The destabilizing legacy of US military aid and counterterrorism efforts in Yemen

ince the administration of United States President George W. Bush, Washington has provided military assistance to the Yemeni government under the stated goal of bolstering the Yemeni Armed Forces’ capacity to combat Yemen’s local branch of al-Qaeda. This assistance was fairly consistently provided up until the outbreak of the most recent conflict in 2015, irrespective of the domestic upheaval taking place in Yemen.

Yemen at the UN – June 2017 Review

In June, the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) adopted a Presidential Statement regarding the Yemeni crisis – the first council outcome on Yemen in almost 14 months. A UNSC Presidential Statement, while important as a statement of council policy, is considered less weighty than a UNSC resolution and lacks the mandatory enforcement power of a Chapter 7 resolution.

Iran and Houthis: Between political alliances and sectarian tensions

Houthis’ missiles targeting Saudi Arabia became more developed and far-reaching during the current war, thus prompting questions about Iran’s role in Yemen. Many stories circulated about Iran smuggling weapons to Houthis despite the blockade and tight control on all air, land and sea ports in the country. It is also believed that Iranian experts are developing Houthis’ weapon capacities.

Dramatic Increase in Lethal Strikes in Yemen Under Trump, Urgent Need for Greater Transparency and Accountability

NEW YORK, June 13, 2017 –The U.S. government must take urgent steps to account for the hundreds of reported civilian deaths it has caused over more than a decade in Pakistan, Somalia, and Yemen, said the Columbia Law School Human Rights Clinic and the Sana’a Center for Strategic Studies, in a comprehensive report released today covering 15 years of U.S. counterterrorism strikes.

OUT OF THE SHADOWS

Families around the world suffer devastating loss when their relatives are killed in U.S. drone strikes and other attacks. Their suffering is magnified and prolonged by uncertainty and injustice when the U.S. government does not officially acknowledge their loss or explain the strikes, as has frequently been the case for U.S. strikes in Pakistan, Somalia, and Yemen. Continual non-recognition or denial of their harm suggests to families that their loved ones are dispensable, not even worthy of minor recognition.

Yemen at the UN – May 2017 Review

In May, a cholera epidemic swept Yemen at terrifying speed. Between the beginning and the end of the month the number of suspected cases of cholera and acute watery diarrhea (AWD) nearly tripled to 70,000, with some 600 associated deaths. At the beginning of June, UNICEF regional director Geert Cappelaere said that without significant intervention the number of cases could rise to 300,000 “within a few weeks’ time.”

Addressing Yemen’s Most Critical Challenges: Practical Short-Term Recommendations

Over the past six years Yemen has been experiencing a period of widespread destabilization, which intensified in September 2014 and resulted in full-blown civil war and international military intervention in early 2015. While the violence has been vicious and destructive, by far the most damaging consequences for the wider Yemeni population have been how the conflict has undermined the systems by which the country functions – devastating the economy, social integration, the humanitarian situation and developmental progress. The result is that millions of people in Yemen are now enduring severe economic deprivation and near-starvation.

Iran’s Role in Yemen Exaggerated, but Destructive

Since March 2015, Saudi Arabia and ten other countries have been conducting a bloody airstrike campaign against the Houthi rebel forces in Yemen. The campaign, meant to counter what Saudis call the “Iranian Threat” in the Arabian Peninsula, had received limited support from the Obama Administration, but Saudi Arabia and its coalition partners are now operating with a freer hand from the Trump White House.

UN Security Council must act to end man-made humanitarian crisis in Yemen

We the undersigned organisations call upon UN Security Council members to take action to bring about an immediate ceasefire in Yemen, end the humanitarian crisis and support the UN Special Envoy’s efforts towards an inclusive political solution to the conflict.

Yemen at the UN – April 2017 Review

In April, the Saudi-led military coalition’s proposed assault on the rebel-held Red Sea port of Hudaydah, and the likely humanitarian catastrophe it would precipitate, was again the focus of most international policy discussions regarding Yemen. By month’s end, however, widespread opposition to the operation within the US, at the UN, within the humanitarian community and elsewhere appeared to gain purchase with both the Saudi-led coalition and American policy makers contemplating United States military support for the action, with these latter two groups apparently re-evaluating Saudi-led coalition plans for an offensive and exploring political alternatives to the attack.

The endless battle in Taiz

Taiz is the site of the longest-running battle ground in the Yemen war, which began when Houthi forces took over the city on March 25, 2015. Initially, the Houthis were confronted by peaceful demonstrations which they repressed heavily, killing six demonstrators in the process. The situation rapidly developed into armed conflict when the war erupted after the Houthis invaded the south, prompting the Saudi-led coalition to launch a counteroffensive on March 26, 2015. Taiz is centrally located in Yemen, and is the country’s third most populous city. Although large parts of Taiz were reportedly liberated from Houthi dominance, the “Taiz liberation operation” was never launched with serious intent.

The Yemen Exchange

The first Yemen Exchange conference, co-hosted by the Sana’a Center for Strategic Studies and the Mideast Wire, took place April 12 – 16 in Beirut, Lebanon.
Participants included diplomats, security experts, scholars and journalists from around Europe, North America, the Middle East and China, who were brought together with a wide spectrum of Yemeni experts, actors and thought leaders – including current and former ministers, general secretaries of political parties, diplomats, bureaucrats, economists, historians and tribal leaders – representing the various warring parties in Yemen’s ongoing war and a diverse array of local power brokers from across the country.

Yemen at the UN – March 2017 Review

In March, the prospect of a Saudi-led military coalition offensive on the rebel-held city of Hudaydah dominated Yemen-related policy discussions at the United Nations and in the United States.

Discussions among UN Security Council member states generally centered around how such an offensive would radically exacerbate Yemen’s humanitarian crisis – given that Hudaydah is the main entry point for humanitarian and commercial goods, and that the country is already facing the world’s largest food security emergency.

Rapid currency depreciation and the decimation of Yemeni purchasing power

International financial intervention is urgently needed to protect the value of the Yemen’s domestic currency. If this support is not forthcoming in the immediate near-term the Yemeni rial faces rapid depreciation; in a country that imports nearly 90 percent of its nutritional needs this depreciation would decimate the ability of most Yemenis to purchase food and other basic necessities.
The two-year-old civil war and regional military intervention in Yemen has already helped create the world’s largest food security emergency, with millions of people currently facing starvation; a steep decline in remaining per capita purchasing power would significantly accelerate the spread of famine.

Rethinking Yemen’s Economy

The European Union and the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Yemen are proud to announce the launch of a new initiative to identify the economic and development priorities in Yemen. The initiative is implemented through a partnership between DeepRoot Consulting, Sana’a Center for Strategic Studies (SCSS) and the Center for Applied Research in Partnership with the Orient (CARPO)

The Limits of US Military Power in Yemen: Why Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula continues to thrive

Similar to US counterterrorism efforts in Yemen under President Barack Obama, the newly minted White House administration of Donald Trump has shown little appetite to explore non-military policy options to supplement the use of American firepower in Yemen. Indeed, shortly after taking office President Trump authorized the escalation of drone strikes and special forces operations in Yemen. The Trump administration’s 2017 budget proposal to congress also outlines massive cuts in US diplomatic and humanitarian spending, even as the UN declared last month that Yemen faces the largest food security emergency in the world. Such a myopic focus on the military option in the battle against Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) indicates a failure to grasp why AQAP has expanded so successfully in Yemen despite well more than a decade of US counterterrorism efforts in the country.

Sana’a Center is seeking interns

The Sana’a Center for Strategic Studies (SCSS) is seeking communications, editorial and research interns to assist in its expansion of operations in Sana’a, Beirut, Washington D.C. and New York. Remote work is a possibility.

Yemen at the UN – February 2017 Review

In February, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations stated that “Yemen is facing the largest food security emergency in the world”, and estimated that the country’s domestic reserves of wheat would be completely exhausted by the end of March 2017.

The UN human rights commission raised credible reports that war crimes were committed by both the main warring sides during battles for the Red Sea port town of Mukha. These battles saw the forces backing Yemeni President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi capture the town from the Houthi movement and its main ally, former President Ali Abdullah Saleh.

Yemen at the UN – January 2017 Review

In January, the UN Special Envoy to Yemen Ismael Ould Cheikh Ahmed entered a period of shuttle diplomacy in an attempt revive the same peace proposal he’d put forward in December 2016 – a proposal Yemeni President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi had at that time flatly rejected. The UN 2140 Sanctions Committee’s Panel of Experts reported last month that neither side in the conflict has “demonstrated sustained interest in or commitment to a political settlement or peace talks”, while pro-Hadi forces appear poised to further capitalize on recent battlefield advances.
UN Emergency Relief Coordinator Stephen O’Brien said the Yemeni conflict is driving the single largest food insecurity crisis in the world and warned of the likelihood of famine in 2017; simultaneously the UN and humanitarian partners launched the largest ever international humanitarian appeal for Yemen: US$2.1 billion to provide life-saving assistance to some 12 million people.

TRUMP’S VISA BAN HARMS FAMILIES AND WAR VICTIMS, DAMAGES CRUCIAL EDUCATION AND RESEARCH EFFORTS

President Donald Trump’s Executive Order banning entry into the United States for people from seven Muslim-majority countries is discriminatory, and will force families apart, deny refuge to persons escaping war and persecution, end education opportunities for students, and damage critical international research, say advocates at the Columbia Law School Human Rights Clinic and the Sana’a Center for Strategic Studies, a leading Yemeni think tank.

Yemen at the UN – December 2016 Review

In December, the internationally recognized government of Yemeni President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi officially rejected the latest UN proposal to end the conflict in Yemen. The Hadi government then laid out new conditions for any future peace agreement that effectively preclude the possibility of a negotiated end to the war.
The Houthi movement and allied forces of former President Ali Abdullah Saleh sought out but failed to garner international recognition for their recently formed “Government of National Salvation” (GNS), following which the GNS was affirmed through a vote of confidence in the Houthi-Saleh controlled Parliament in Sana’a.

Yemen at the UN – November 2016 Review

In November, United States Secretary of State John Kerry announced that he had reached an agreement between Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and the Houthi movement to end the fighting in Yemen. He did so, however, without obtaining the agreement of the internationally recognized government of Yemen, one of the war’s main belligerent parties. The ceasefire was almost immediately violated and quickly failed.
The opposition Houthis and allied forces of former President Ali Abdullah Saleh announced the formation of a new government in Sana’a. The move was seen as an attempt to redress public outrage at the opposition’s brutal, corrupt and inept governance, as well as shore up the strained Houthi-Saleh alliance. The result is a government with a sprawling array of ministerial portfolios with vast overlaps of responsibility and authority. While the UN Special Envoy to Yemen called the move “a concerning obstacle to the peace process”, a position shared by various Security Council member states, the council as a whole was unable to agree to a statement in this regard.

Sana’a Center seeks lead researcher for year-long mental health study in Yemen

The Sana’a Center for Strategic Studies (SCSS), in coordination with the Human Rights Clinic (HRC) at Columbia Law School, seeks a Yemen-based Lead Researcher to head a year-long multidisciplinary study on the psychological impacts of war on individuals, families and communities in Yemen.
This study is to form the basis of a domestic and international advocacy strategy to advance the human rights, dignity, security, access to care, and social, economic and political inclusion of people enduring the mental health repercussions of the war in Yemen.

Trump and the Yemen war

Under the Obama administration, United States policy toward Yemen was largely driven by regional concerns and counter-terrorism initiatives, with the drone campaign targeting Al Qaeda leaders in Yemen today remaining among America’s most intense.

The Arab Spring uprisings, which reached Yemen in early 2011, complicated America’s regional relationships and seemed to sour Obama’s appetite for democratization. This became apparent in Yemen when the White House helped install a US-friendly administration in Sana’a after long-time ally President Ali Abdullah Saleh was ousted. Saleh was replaced with his own vice president, Abd Rabbu Mansour Hadi, who promptly announced plans to rout Al Qaeda’s Yemen franchise.

Yemen at the UN – October 2016 Review

In October, the Houthi forces’ use of anti-ship missiles targeting vessels in the Bab al-Mandeb Strait led to a brief but direct intervention in the Yemeni conflict by the United States navy.

Saudi-led coalition airstrikes on a funeral gathering in Sana’a caused massive casualties and brought widespread international condemnation, however the US and United Kingdom continued to oppose an international investigation into war crimes in Yemen, and Saudi Arabia was re-elected to a second term on the UN Human Rights council.

Yemen Without a Functioning Central Bank: The Loss of Basic Economic Stabilization and Accelerating Famine

  By Mansour Rageh, Amal Nasser and Farea Al-Muslimi   Executive Summary The Yemeni government’s decision in September to relocate the central bank and replace its governor has left the country without an institution capable of providing basic economic stabilization. While all the belligerent parties to Yemen’s armed conflict have sought to leverage economic factors, the […]

Yemen at the UN – September 2016 Review

United Nations efforts to end the conflict in Yemen made no effective headway in September, while political developments both at the UN and on the ground in Yemen will likely complicate future UN peace efforts.
The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights’ recommendation to establish an independent international commission to investigate war crimes by all sides to the Yemeni conflict was turned down by the UN’s Human Rights Council, which instead adopted a resolution to increase assistance to a controversial Yemeni committee investigating war crimes.

The Essential Role of Local Governance in Yemen

Yemen’s local councils are responsible for the day-to-day provision of basic public services to 26 million Yemenis and are amongst the most crucial institutions of governance in the country.

However, the outbreak of civil war in 2014 and the subsequent Saudi-led military intervention in Yemen in March 2015 has devastated local councils’ ability to provide these services: financial resources have evaporated, armed militias challenge their authority, and extremist groups such as Al Qaeda and the Islamic State have assassinated council members. Despite the challenges, local councils have been generally resilient and continue to operate in some form in most parts of the country, though they have been rendered ill-equipped to handle the largest humanitarian crisis in the country’s history.

Yemen at the UN – August 2016 Review

United Nations-mediated peace talks aimed at resolving the conflict in Yemen stalled during the month of August, while divisions regarding Yemen became increasingly apparent at the UN Security Council and violence escalated around the country.
The negotiations between the warring parties, held in Kuwait, ended in early August over an impasse regarding so-called “sequencing concerns” related to the UN-sponsored peace plan; these were essentially a disagreement over whether the Houthi rebels and allied forces should be required to cede capture territory and disarm before, or after, their place in a new unity government was established.

Yemen at the UN – July 2016 Review

United Nations efforts to resolve the Yemeni conflict were marked by disputes and setbacks during the month of July. Days before the originally scheduled conclusion of peace talks in Kuwait on July 31, the Houthi rebels and their allied General Popular Congress (GPC), led by former President Ali Abdullah Saleh, unilaterally established a governing council in Yemen that both leaves out the internationally-recognized Yemeni government and undermines the UN-led peace process. Although the Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Yemen, Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed, was subsequently successful in extending the peace talks through to August 6, they were concluded without having secured a peace agreement, prompting concerns about both a likely escalation in fighting and the ineffectiveness of UN efforts to help end the war.

THE SANA’A CENTER CONDEMNS THE ARREST OF EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR MAGED AL-MADHAJI

On the morning of July 24, 2016, the Sana’a Center for Strategic Studies’ Executive Director, Maged Al-Madhaji, was arrested at his home by security forces loyal to the Houthi rebel movement. Madhaji, one of Yemen’s most prominent intellectuals, was taken to Al-Wahda police station and interrogated, before being released later in the day.

Yemen at the UN – June 2016

United Nations efforts to bring about a cessation of the conflict in Yemen witnessed limited progress in June, and were marked by setbacks and controversies. It is uncertain whether any major breakthroughs will be achieved in the near term. That being said, the UN continued to play a role in a number of conflict-related issues, such as prisoner exchanges, facilitating commercial imports and confidence building measures between the belligerent parties.

The politics driving Yemen’s rising sectarianism

The current armed conflict in Yemen began, essentially, as a domestic struggle for power between political and tribal factions. This reality ran contrary to the conventional narrative in the international news media that Yemen was another sectarian arena in the proxy war between the Middle East’s two great Sunni and Shia rivals, Saudi Arabia and Iran, respectively.

How Yemen’s post-2011 transitional phase ended in war

The Gulf Cooperation Council and the international community brought together Yemen’s various political power brokers in 2011 to help end the crisis the country had entered following the so-called “Arab Spring” uprisings. These negotiations resulted in an agreement that became known as the GCC Initiative, which ushered Yemen into a “transitional phase”. This period was intended to pave the way for a peaceful transfer of power away from President Ali Abdullah Saleh, address citizen demands for democratic reform and transitional justice, empower the Yemeni state, curb the use of violence by political actors and prevent a return to authoritarianism.

Beware of the failure of Yemen’s central bank

For the past 18 months, Yemen has been going through one of the most chaotic times of its modern history. Since the Houthi takeover of the capital, Sanaa, on Sept. 21, 2014, the country has been witnessing a gradual collapse of the state, which was accelerated when President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi left Sanaa for Aden and then for Riyadh. By March 2015, the Houthi rebel group was the de facto power running the country.

How US counterterror strategy has crashed and burned in Yemen – and what to try instead

After 15 years of US efforts to combat terror and achieve stability in Yemen, a new study by Saferworld concludes that these efforts—as in the cases of Afghanistan andSomalia—have badly backfired. Today, Yemen requires not more military intervention, but strategies to counter corrupt and abusive government and to show its people that their security and rights matter.

Ensuring Yemen’s state structures survive the conflict: The imminent critical threats to the Yemeni riyal and government institutions

In whatever post-conflict scenario eventually prevails in Yemen, the domestic currency and the institutions of state will be essential to the rebuilding process. To date, both have persevered despite the enormous pressure of a vicious civil war and foreign bombing campaign. The Central Bank of Yemen’s actions have successfully protected the value of the Yemeni riyal against the American dollar – essential in a country that imports 90% of its food requirements – while the central government, which even at the best of times held tenuous authority over large swathes of the country, has managed to keep the structures of its institutions intact by operating them at a minimum capacity.

Geography of War and Agriculture in Yemen

Why is war a more common occurrence in some parts of Yemen than in others? Why do cities like Aden recover quickly from wars? And why do their youth rush to clean up streets and restore normalcy? Why do wars quickly cease in cities like Taiz and Ibb, but are quick to flare up over and over around Sanaa? It is basically a matter of the economy.
In the tribal North, where a war economy prevails, tribes thrive on conflicts. This contrasts sharply with the peasant tribes of central and southern Yemen that rely on an agriculture-based economy. In other words, war in Taiz hampers the agricultural economy and brings the lives of farmers to a grinding halt, while the war’s end in Amran results in unemployment and the demise of what has come to embody ‘normalcy.’

Yemen’s economic collapse and impending famine: The necessary immediate steps to avoid worst-case scenarios

This policy paper, published by the Sana’a Center for Strategic Studies in partnership with the Friedrich-Ebert Foundation, aims to provide a reading of Yemen’s current economic situation. It offers a contemporary context to the crisis, examines the economic impact of the ongoing civil war and Saudi-led military intervention, then discusses policy recommendations for stakeholders regarding how best to prevent the disintegration of Yemen’s economy and the onset of famine.

SANA’A CENTER CONDEMNS DEPORTATION OF ITS RESEARCHERS FROM BAHRAIN

The Sana’a Center for Strategic Studies strongly condemns the deportation of two of its researchers, Farea al-Muslimi and Sama’a al-Hamdani from Bahrain. The International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) invited Hamdani and Muslimi as independent Yemen specialists to participate in this weekend’s Manama Dialogue (October 30-31).

Sana’a Center Condemns arrest of its Executive Director, Maged Al-Madhaji, along with other civil society activists

The Sana’a Center for Strategic Studies (SCSS) strongly condemns the detention of its Executive Director, Maged Al-Madhaji, by armed forces loyal to the Houthi rebel movement. On Saturday morning, September 19th, Madhaji was arrested at a protest demanding freedom for Yemenis held extrajudicially by the Houthis and their allies, along with journalist Mahmoud Yassin , Bassim Al-Warafi and the founders of Mwatana Organization for Human Rights, Radhya Al-Mutawakel and Abdulrasheed Al-Faqih. Mutawakel has been released. Regretfully, the rest remain in detention.

United States Policy & Yemen’s Armed Conflict

The Yemen Peace Project (YPP), in partnership with Resonate! Yemen and Sana’a Center for Strategic Studies, has published a new report entitled United States Policy & Yemen’s Armed Conflict. The report examines the events leading up to the outbreak of the conflict in early 2015, assesses the successes and shortcomings of US foreign policy before and during the conflict, and presents realistic recommendations for a more peaceful and constructive American approach to Yemen’s crisis. The report focuses on five specific policy areas: diplomatic engagement, military intervention, humanitarian assistance, security and counterterrorism, and assistance to US citizens in Yemen, and it concludes with a set of additional recommendations for constructive US involvement in Yemen’s eventual post-conflict reconstruction effort..

The Role of Local Actors in Yemen’s Current War

As civil war persists in Yemen, it is crucial for international and local policymakers, as well as military leaders, to expand their understanding of the role of local actors, and the dynamics at play between them, in order to reach an inclusive long-term peace agreement. In the absence of this awareness, Yemen risks remaining in a state of conflict and in the face of a tenacious humanitarian catastrophe for the foreseeable future. This policy brief is the second in a series of policy briefs issued by the Sana’a Center for Strategic Studies and in cooperation with the Friedrich Ebert Foundation (FES) aiming to bring better understanding of Yemen’s multiple current crises..

The Roles of Regional Actors in Yemen and Opportunities for Peace

On the dawn of March 26th, 2015, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia launched Operation Decisive Storm, an internationally backed military campaign against the Houthis, a Zaidi Shi’a led rebel group, and forces allied to former president Ali Abdullah Saleh in Yemen. The operation has given rise to new roles for new, non-Yemeni actors in the country, leading to an unprecedented regionalization of Yemen’s conflict.