Summer has been dominated by rising tensions among the Saudi-led coalition, as competition between Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates continues to undermine the internationally recognized government. The current phase of the rivalry is centered on Hadramawt, the vast eastern governorate bordering Saudi Arabia that has seen repeated bouts of political and military agitation. Saudi talks with the Houthi group (Ansar Allah) are currently on hold, hung up on now-familiar disagreements over the kingdom’s belligerent status and payment of public sector salaries.
Perhaps stung by its lack of progress in the negotiations, Saudi Arabia announced new support for the government, totaling some US$1.2 billion. The funding rescued a government in financial crisis: battered by an effective Houthi blockade of oil and gas exports, it could not even afford to keep the lights on. Lengthening blackouts during the hottest months of the year and the cratering value of the Yemeni rial led to protests and political recriminations as the situation grew more desperate.
But the faltering peace talks may also augur new rounds of violence. Houthi forces have deployed in increasing numbers outside Marib, and may yet renew their aspirations to capture the city and nearby oilfields. Foreign observers and senior Houthi military commanders have been on hand at maneuvers in the governorate. Tensions are also building on the Red Sea Coast, where the Houthis are mobilizing naval forces on islands near international shipping lanes. Pro-government forces have also moved to the sea, competing to occupy bases near the strategic Bab al-Mandeb Strait.
This issue of the Yemen Review was prepared by (in alphabetical order): Murad Al-Arefi, Ryan Bailey, William Clough, Casey Coombs, Andrew Hammond, Khadiga Hashem, Yazeed Al-Jeddawy, Elham Omar, Ghaidaa Al-Rashidy, Miriam Saleh, Lara Uhlenhaut, Ned Whalley, and the Sana’a Center Economic Unit.