Hopes faded that the expired truce would be revived in November, as Houthi authorities dug in their heels over maximalist demands that caused the talks’ collapse and then upped the ante with a series of drone and missile attacks on southern ports. The attacks crippled oil and gas revenues, though International Monetary Fund, Saudi, and Emirati support has given the government the lifeline it needs for now. Following the international financial agreements, the government-run Central Bank of Yemen in Aden moved to increase its oversight of banking data. Though there has been no return to full-scale war, intense if low-level clashes were seen in Taiz, Lahj, and Hudaydah.
Reports persisted of back-channel Houthi-Saudi talks, but they appear to have stalled for now over Houthi demands for salary payments. The talks could become problematic for the government if they go beyond the question of the truce and extend to a unilateral settlement, which would be contrary to its interests. Divisions continued to wrack the Presidential Leadership Council, whose head Rashad al-Alimi was the sole member to spend significant time in Aden when he returned in early December after a regional tour that included Egypt, Jordan, and the UAE.
The STC-Islah dispute, which has been at the heart of PLC wrangling, eased up slightly under UAE and Saudi pressure as their priority shifts to preventing a fiscal collapse after the Houthi strikes on oil facilities. This led to Alimi removing a key Islah military official in Hadramawt governorate, where STC-led protests were threatening to descend into violent clashes. The PLC’s Tareq Saleh strengthened his position as the scion of the Saleh family, leading government-backed celebrations to mark the death of former president Ali Abdullah Saleh in 2017. The opening of Al-Mokha airport raises the importance of his UAE-backed National Resistance forces, which guard a critical section of the Red Sea coast.
This issue of the Yemen Review was prepared by (in alphabetical order): Musaed Aklan, Ryan Bailey, Nick Brumfield, Casey Coombs, Yasmeen Al-Eryani, Andrew Hammond, Khadiga Hashim, Abdulghani Al-Iryani, Yazeed Al-Jeddawy, Maged Al-Madhaji, Farea Al-Muslimi, Elham Omar, Ghaidaa Al-Rashidy, Lara Uhlenhaut, Ned Whalley and the Sana’a Center Economic Unit.