Yemen

Yemen
Many forces are at work in the current crisis in Yemen, including regional tensions, social movements, foreign powers seeking to either escalate or resolve the conflict, and opportunistic terrorist entities. The three key parties of the conflict are Ali Abdullah Saleh, Abd Rabbuh Mansour Hadi, and the Houthis.

Ali Abdullah Saleh served as Yemen’s president for three decades but was ousted from power as a result of the Yemen Spring in 2011. He built his regime on patronage, installing elites and relatives in positions of power and fostering a close relationship with the military while doing little for his people. Saleh remains an influential politician as the head of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) and as part of an alliance with the Houthis in opposition to the Hadi government.[i]

Abd Rabbuh Mansour Hadi serves as the de facto president of Yemen, though he was militarily forced out of the presidency in 2015. Hadi quickly rescinded this coerced resignation and – according to the latest democratic election – remains the most legitimate leadership in Yemen.[ii] Hadi’s efforts to bring order to Yemen focus largely on crushing the rebel forces while discounting the humanitarian crisis.[iii]

The Houthis, who refer to themselves as “Ansar Allah,” are a rebel force lead by Abd al-Malik al-Houthi. The group originated in North Yemen as a moderate theological movement in the 1990s based in Zaydism, which praises willingness to fight against injustice and oppression.[iv] The organization provided religious lectures, debates, theater performances, and athletic events at established community centers. A more politically conservative sect later broke from the original civic-minded organization and moved to militant activity opposing the Yemeni government because of its local actions and the West because of its fundamental ideals and its historical involvement in the Middle East. The Houthis rose to prominence during the Yemen Spring in 2011 to resist Saleh and later Hadi. The Shia Houthis want to increase their political power in Yemen and resist foreign – especially Western – involvement, though they have so far failed to provide an alternative government as effective as the existing entities.[v]

References

[i] Brehony, Noel. 2015. Yemen and the Huthis: Genesis of the 2015 Crisis. Asian Affairs 46 (2): 232.

[ii] Khaled Fattah. 2009. “Yemen: A Slogan and Six Wars.” Conflicts Forum.

[iii] Brehony, Noel. 2015. Yemen and the Huthis: Genesis of the 2015 Crisis. Asian Affairs 46 (2): 232.

[iv] Lucas Winter. 2012. “Yemen’s Huthi Movement in the Wake of the Arab Spring.” Combatting Terrorism Center. https://www.ctc.usma.edu/posts/yemens-huthi-movement-in-the-wake-of-the-arab-spring.

[v] Brehony, Noel. 2015. Yemen and the Huthis: Genesis of the 2015 Crisis. Asian Affairs 46 (2): 232.

Since ancient times, Yemen has largely been administrated by tribal powers through independent sultanates, emirates, and sheikhdoms. Situated in the West of the Arabian Peninsula, its advantageous position in trade routes to India and to the Islamic holy cities Mecca and Medina has made Yemen a desirable conquest. As a result, the Ottoman Empire – beginning in the 16th century – and the British Empire – beginning in the 19th century –fought each other and native forces such as the Qasimi Imams, based in the northwest highlands of Yemen, for domination of the region. Yemen’s lingering regional, tribal, and class divides have resulted in a history filled with violence and fundamental differences within the country, contributing to the enduring sectarian conflict.[i]

1904 – After centuries of competitive colonialism and empire building, Yemen was split in two when Britain and the Ottoman Empire agreed to southern and northern rule, respectively. This divide put the North and the South on divergent developmental tracks, influenced by numerous leaders and both foreign and local powers.[ii]

1918 – Following years of Yemeni resistance – lead by Imam Yahya Muhammed Hamid ed-Din and Emir Muhammad ibn Ali al-Idrisi – and declining influence due to religious differences, the crumbling Ottoman Empire withdrew from North Yemen.[iii]

1926 – Itally recognized Yahya Muhammed Hamid ed-Din as the King of Yemen, intiating other countries’ acceptances of the Kingdom of Yemen, including Britain and the US.[iv]

1948 – Yahya Muhammed Hamid ed-Din was assassinated and his son, Imam Ahmad bin Yahya Hamidaddin, assumed rule of Yemen.[v]

1955 – Reformists within the Yemini Army displeased with Ahmad’s harsh rule unsuccessfully attepted a coup.[vi]

1962 – Ahmed dies of an illness and military officers in North Yemen, including Ali Abdullah Saleh, established the Yemen Arab Republic to contest the influence of the Ahmed’s successor, Muhammad al-Badr. Republican infighting – influenced by Egyptian troops and Imam loyalists supported by Saudi Arabia – led to eight years of civil war.[vii] [viii]

1967 – British forces withdrew from South Yemen, the after five years of insurgent opposition to British rule, headed by the National Liberation Front and the Front for the Liberation of Occupied South Yemen, two nationalist organizations. Backed by the Yemen Arab Republic in North Yemen, the paramilitary organization the National Liberation Front took control of South Yemen from the Front for the Liberation of Occupied South Yemen. [ix] [x]

1970 – The National Liberation Front rebranded itself as the Marxist Yemeni Socialist Party and renamed South Yemen the People’s Democratic Republic of Yemen. Communist states including the Soviet Union backed the Marxist Yemeni Socialist Party, which is reflected in the socialist influences of the southern half of Yemen and its ideological differences from North Yemen despite their past alliance against British forces.[xi]

1978 – After decades of strife and the assassinations of two military leaders, Ali Abdullah Saleh entered the presidency in North Yemen, a culmination of his involvement in installing the Yemen Arab Republic.[xii]

1990 – In the mutual interests of both territories, North and South Yemen peacefully united as the Republic of Yemen, though efforts towards integration were largely neglected, particularly between the two militaries. With vastly different populations, though one nationality, the two Yemens rejoined to strengthen their appeal to Arab and Western investors in the midst of an economic crisis.[xiii] The South perceived that it was left marginalized because the more populated North had heavy representation in parliament and because of President Saleh’s Northern heritage.[xiv] Additionally, the South voiced that the North was unfairly profiting from the southern oil-rich lands.[xv] [xvi]

1992 – The Houthis formed “The Believing Youth,” their first organization, which focused on religious education in response to the patronage and corruption within the Saleh government as well as the dissemination of Saudi-influenced ideologies in Yemen. [xvii] This organization filled a void for Yemeni youth considering the dearth of government centers and job opportunities.[xviii] [xix]

1994 – The separatist and socialist South Yemen made a bid for independence, declaring its land the Democratic Republic of Yemen after claims of violence towards the Yemeni Socialist Party and grievances around the South’s perceived marginalization in the creation of the united government. The resistance collapsed after two months, with many South Yemen leaders fleeing into exile. The Yemeni Socialist Party lost much of its influence as a result, worsening the country’s environment of political and economic deprivation.[xx]

2000 – “The Believing Youth” centers split between “moderate” and “conservative” ideologies, with the conservative movement headed by Hussein al-Houthi, a political and military leader of the Houthi movement. Hussein al-Houthi’s sect became more politically active in opposition to the West and their government’s involvement with the West. The Houthis’ grievances were markedly different from the South’s, but the Houthis echoed the South’s discontent to contest their common enemy, the Yemeni government. [xxi]

2003 – Al-Houthi’s followers staged anti-U.S. and anti-government protests consisting of chanting and vandalism in the capital, leaving Saleh concerned about the group’s increasing influence and potential for violence.[xxii]

2004 – Saleh directed Yemeni army forces to arrest Hussein al-Houthi to quiet the movement’s government opposition. Instead, the army sparked an insurgency by killing Hussein al-Houthi when he resisted arrest. His death contributed to the radicalization of the group and the intensification of the conflict.[xxiii]

2011 – Inspired by surrounding Arab uprisings, mass protests against government repression, corruption, and Saleh’s continuing reign erupted in Yemen. The Houthis participated in the Yemen Spring alongside the “revolutionary youth” to increase their influence. As government control crumbled, the Houthis seized control of parts of the Sa’dah province, which they had had footholds in for over 10 years.[xxiv] [xxv]

23 November 2011 – After lengthy opposition to relinquishing power, Saleh was ultimately forced to step down from his presidency as a result of the Gulf Cooperation Council Initiative – negotiated by Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and United Arab Emirates. The purpose of the deal was to facilitate the peaceful transition of power to Abd Rabbuh Mansour Hadi in the face of protests and violence across Yemen. Saleh signed the deal in exchange for immunity for himself and his family. [xxvi] The United Nations Security Council heavily encouraged the agreement in efforts to stabilize Yemen.[xxvii] However, Saleh remained the head of the General People’s Congress and maintained an unofficial influence over the military because of the loyal individuals he had previously installed. Although the transition deal left many issues to be resolved, it nonetheless soothed the crisis incited by the Yemen Spring.[xxviii]

21 February 2012 – Hadi, who had served as Saleh’s vice president and acting president during the Yemini uprising, assumed power officially as part of a two-year transition after Saleh resigned. He was elected in a race where he was the sole candidate. In drafting Yemen’s new constitution, Hadi fell into the same pitfalls as his successor and ostracized the Houthis and the South.[xxix]

8 November 2014 – In response to demands of many political factions, particularly the Houthis, Yemen formed a new government to diffuse political tensions and to degrade Saleh’s influence.[xxx] Hadi – continuing to serve as the president – and former United Nations Representative Khaled Bahah – named the Prime Minister – made a concerted effort to disperse political influence to the gamut of political parties and regions with their appointments.[xxxi]

2014 – Former foes, Saleh and the Houthis, forged a tacit alliance in efforts to fight the Hadi government and to oppose the Yemeni Congregation for Reform (al-Islah), a loose political and religious coalition founded in 1990 in affiliation with the Muslim Brotherhood.[xxxii] The alliance presents a united front against their common enemies and has served to represent their common interests of rejecting Western influence and federalism in Yemen’s political sphere. [xxxiii] Forces loyal to Saleh have also joined the Houthis, bringing military prowess and weaponry. [xxxiv] Saleh, while in power, was known to play rival groups off of one another, including the Marxists versus the Sunni and tribal Islamic militias, and later these militias versus the Believing Youth.[xxxv]

22 January 2015 – The Houthis militarily coerced Hadi to resign after seizing the presidential palace, but he escaped to Aden and rescinded his submission, denouncing the Houthi takeover. As the Houthis gathered momentum, Hadi’s methods of repression – particularly after the coup – exacerbated the already despondent sentiment of the common people of Yemen. Notably among these methods are the naval and air blockade that prevent basic and necessary resources to be distributed throughout the country. With the support of Saudi Arabia, Hadi seeks to reclaim Yemen for the official leadership.[xxxvi]

25 March 2015 – The struggle evolved into an armed conflict when a pro-Hadi Saudi-led coalition began an air campaign targeting the Houthis. [xxxvii] The Houthis possess both a military wing and a political wing. The powerful military wing manipulates the terrorist threat of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) to seize territory and artillery in the interests of protection and security.[xxxviii] It also uses its power as a tool to extract concessions from the elected government, such as Hadi’s resignation. [xxxix] Meanwhile, the Houthi’s political wing, Ansar Allah, galvanizes the Yemini people by appealing to populist sentiments.[xl] Its capacity for governing, however, is yet to be proven. These deficiencies have resulted in human rights abuses reminiscent of the Hadi government that the Houthis oppose.[xli]

References

[i] Brehony, Noel. 2015. Yemen and the Huthis: Genesis of the 2015 Crisis. Asian Affairs 46 (2): 232.

[ii] Tharoor, Ishaan. 2010. “A Brief History of Yemen: Rich Past, Impoverished Present.” Time Inc.

[iii] Tharoor, Ishaan. 2010. “A Brief History of Yemen: Rich Past, Impoverished Present.” Time Inc.

[iv] Arielli, Nir. 1975. Fascist Italy and the Middle East, 1933-40. Palgrave Macmillan, New York; Houndmills, Basingstoke, Hampshire.

[v] Arielli, Nir. 1975. Fascist Italy and the Middle East, 1933-40. Palgrave Macmillan, New York; Houndmills, Basingstoke, Hampshire.

[vi] Arielli, Nir. 1975. Fascist Italy and the Middle East, 1933-40. Palgrave Macmillan, New York; Houndmills, Basingstoke, Hampshire.

[vii] Brehony, Noel. 2015. Yemen and the Huthis: Genesis of the 2015 Crisis. Asian Affairs 46 (2): 232.

[viii] Arielli, Nir. 1975. Fascist Italy and the Middle East, 1933-40. Palgrave Macmillan, New York; Houndmills, Basingstoke, Hampshire.

[ix] Tharoor, Ishaan. 2010. “A Brief History of Yemen: Rich Past, Impoverished Present.” Time Inc.

[x] Brehony, Noel. 2015. Yemen and the Huthis: Genesis of the 2015 Crisis. Asian Affairs 46 (2): 232.

[xi] Tharoor, Ishaan. 2010. “A Brief History of Yemen: Rich Past, Impoverished Present.” Time Inc.

[xii] Tharoor, Ishaan. 2010. “A Brief History of Yemen: Rich Past, Impoverished Present.” Time Inc.

[xiii] Central Intelligence Agency. 1990. “North and South Yemen: In Search of Unity.” https://www.scribd.com/document/51196986/CIA-Study-on-Yemeni-Unification.

[xiv] Central Intelligence Agency. 1990. “North and South Yemen: In Search of Unity.” https://www.scribd.com/document/51196986/CIA-Study-on-Yemeni-Unification.

[xv] Tharoor, Ishaan. 2010. “A Brief History of Yemen: Rich Past, Impoverished Present.” Time Inc.

[xvi] Brehony, Noel. 2015. Yemen and the Huthis: Genesis of the 2015 Crisis. Asian Affairs 46 (2): 232.

[xvii] Khaled Fattah. 2009. “Yemen: A Slogan and Six Wars.” Conflicts Forum.

[xviii] Khaled Fattah. 2009. “Yemen: A Slogan and Six Wars.” Conflicts Forum.

[xix] Brehony, Noel. 2015. Yemen and the Huthis: Genesis of the 2015 Crisis. Asian Affairs 46 (2): 232.

[xx] Brehony, Noel. 2015. Yemen and the Huthis: Genesis of the 2015 Crisis. Asian Affairs 46 (2): 232.

[xxi] Khaled Fattah. 2009. “Yemen: A Slogan and Six Wars.” Conflicts Forum.

[xxii] Khaled Fattah. 2009. “Yemen: A Slogan and Six Wars.” Conflicts Forum.

[xxiii] Khaled Fattah. 2009. “Yemen: A Slogan and Six Wars.” Conflicts Forum.

[xxiv] Lucas Winter. 2012. “Yemen’s Huthi Movement in the Wake of the Arab Spring.” Combatting Terrorism Center. https://www.ctc.usma.edu/posts/yemens-huthi-movement-in-the-wake-of-the-arab-spring.

[xxv] Brehony, Noel. 2015. Yemen and the Huthis: Genesis of the 2015 Crisis. Asian Affairs 46 (2): 232.

[xxvi] T Brehony, Noel. 2015. Yemen and the Huthis: Genesis of the 2015 Crisis. Asian Affairs 46 (2): 232.

[xxvii] “Security Council Report.” 2016. http://www.securitycouncilreport.org/chronology/yemen.php.

[xxviii] T Brehony, Noel. 2015. Yemen and the Huthis: Genesis of the 2015 Crisis. Asian Affairs 46 (2): 232.

[xxix] Brehony, Noel. 2015. Yemen and the Huthis: Genesis of the 2015 Crisis. Asian Affairs 46 (2): 232.

[xxx] Mohamed Ghobari. 2014. “Yemeni Parties Mandate Formation of New Government by President Hadi.” Reuters.

[xxxi] Brehony, Noel. 2015. Yemen and the Huthis: Genesis of the 2015 Crisis. Asian Affairs 46 (2): 232.

[xxxii] Berkley Center for Religion, Peace, and World Affairs at Georgetown University. 2016. “Yemen Congregation for Reform.” https://berkleycenter.georgetown.edu/organizations/yemeni-congregation-for-reform.

[xxxiii] Brehony, Noel. 2015. Yemen and the Huthis: Genesis of the 2015 Crisis. Asian Affairs 46 (2): 232.

[xxxiv] Yara Bayoumy and Phil Stewart. 2016. “Exclusive: Iran Steps Up Weapons Supply to Yemen’s Houthis via Oman.” Reuters.

[xxxv] Brehony, Noel. 2015. Yemen and the Huthis: Genesis of the 2015 Crisis. Asian Affairs 46 (2): 232.

[xxxvi] Brehony, Noel. 2015. Yemen and the Huthis: Genesis of the 2015 Crisis. Asian Affairs 46 (2): 232.

[xxxvii] Brehony, Noel. 2015. Yemen and the Huthis: Genesis of the 2015 Crisis. Asian Affairs 46 (2): 232.

[xxxviii] Lucas Winter. 2012. “Yemen’s Huthi Movement in the Wake of the Arab Spring.” Combatting Terrorism Center. https://www.ctc.usma.edu/posts/yemens-huthi-movement-in-the-wake-of-the-arab-spring.

[xxxix] Brehony, Noel. 2015. Yemen and the Huthis: Genesis of the 2015 Crisis. Asian Affairs 46 (2): 232.

[xl] Brehony, Noel. 2015. Yemen and the Huthis: Genesis of the 2015 Crisis. Asian Affairs 46 (2): 232.

[xli] Lucas Winter. 2012. “Yemen’s Huthi Movement in the Wake of the Arab Spring.” Combatting Terrorism Center. https://www.ctc.usma.edu/posts/yemens-huthi-movement-in-the-wake-of-the-arab-spring.

The United Nations Security council has been increasingly concerned with the crisis in Yemen since the conflict began in 1994. Press statements are regularly released to urge cooperation in the peace process or to condemn violent acts in Yemen.

23 November 2011 – Saleh agreed to transfer the position of the presidency to Hadi, his vice president, in the Gulf Cooperation Council Initiative – involving Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and United Arab Emirates – with international pressure from the US and the European Union. This agreement was successful in the short term because it led to the peaceful transition of power, but lingering conflict makes it evident that this solution to mounting tensions in Yemen failed to address underlying issues contributing to the destabilization of the country. The Gulf Cooperation Council transition deal ignored enduring Houthi concerns of marginalization and inadequate representation within the government. Additionally, Saleh was left with enough power – acquired through patronage within the Yemen military – to undermine the authority of the internationally supported arrangement.[i]

2014 – The Six-Federation Plan, a proposal of the Hadi government, divided Yemen into four regions in the North – comprising Azal, Saba, Janad and Tahama – and two in the formerly independent South – Aden and Hadramawt. The Houthis and the South spurned this attempt at compromise, arguing that it would unfairly divide Yemen into wealthy and poor districts. Additionally, it would have been an unappealing deal for the Houthis because it did not give them governance over land with access to oil, gas, or the sea. In the context of a bargaining framework, the Houthis had too much territory and momentum to settle for the Six-Federation Plan and the Hadi government failed to recognize the opposition’s power in this proposed constitution.[ii]

May 2015 – After months of escalating violence and Houthi advances, international powers urged peace talks based in Geneva involving all Yemeni stakeholders. The Secretary-General called for participation without preconditions.[iii]

28 May 2015 – The talks were postponed and eventually disintegrated. In this case, it appears that negotiations failed because of a lack of participant interest. Though other nations harbored great concern for the humanitarian crisis in Yemen, they failed to motivate the warring parties of Yemen. Following the collapse of the Geneva talks, the United Nations Security Council reemphasized the need for all parties to observe an “unconditional humanitarian pause.”[iv]

11 September 2015 – United Nations Special Envoy Ismaïl Ould Cheikh Ahmed announced forthcoming peace talks, but the Hadi government decommitted to these talks days later amidst a coordinated Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant suicide bombing in Sana’a.[v] [vi]

October of 2015 – The Hadi government and the Houthis made the decision to engage in direct negotiations, which the United Nations Security Council welcomed. This spurred discussion of humanitarian relief efforts, particularly from Saudi Arabia, on 28 October 2015.[vii] [viii]

20 December 2015 – The peace talks fell apart because, though hostilities were reduced, violence continued. The lack of compliance with the ceasefire fostered further discord and mistrust, ultimately leading to the termination of negotiations before they truly began. Members of the Council publicly urged Yemen to reconsider peace talks.[ix]

11 April 2016 – A cease-fire was announced to end hostilities in Yemen in preparation for the long-awaited peace negotiations. Violations continued on either side of the conflict.[x]

18 April 2016 – Peace talks were intended to begin in Kuwait, but were delayed due to the absence of the Houthi party.[xi]

21 April 2016 – Peace talks began in Kuwait to discuss security measures, territorial withdrawals, surrender of weaponry, and renewal of political dialogue.[xii]

25 May 2016 – The Secretary-General issued a plan to support the negotiations and the De-escalation and Coordination Committee.[xiii]

21 June 2016 – United Nations Special Envoy Ismaïl Ould Cheikh Ahmed presented a plan to establish a national unity government, but again the warring sides could not agree on the timing of the steps that the plan outlined.[xiv]

6 August 2016 – The recent United Nations -sponsored Kuwait negotiations between the Hadi government and the Houthi-Saleh alliance collapsed when the Hadi government pulled out of the talks. This failure was due to obstinacy on both sides of the conflict. Hadi demands that the Houthi forces withdraw and forfeit their weaponry to a third party before any concessions will be made. Meanwhile, the Houthi-Saleh side requires that, before it relinquishes control of any cities, a consensus-based government must be created. It also calls for prisoner releases and amnesty for the Houthi fighters.[xv] [xvi]

25 August 2016 – A meeting to relaunch peace talks was held, with US Secretary of State John Kerry, United Kingdom Minister for the Middle East and Africa Tobias Ellwood, United Nations Special Envoy for Yemen Ismaïl Ould Cheikh Ahmed, and foreign ministers of Saudi Arabia and the Gulf Cooperation Council in attendance. Talks have yet to resume.[xvii] [xviii]

October 2016 – For peace talks to resume, the Houthis have demanded Hadi’s resignation to be included in any peace plan that the United Nations proposes. There has been no official response, but a sense of urgency is mounting among concerned international parties considering the humanitarian crisis.[xix]

References

[i] Tharoor, Ishaan. 2010. “A Brief History of Yemen: Rich Past, Impoverished Present.” Time Inc.

[ii] Brehony, Noel. 2015. Yemen and the Huthis: Genesis of the 2015 Crisis. Asian Affairs 46 (2): 232.

[iii] “Security Council Report.” 2016. http://www.securitycouncilreport.org/chronology/yemen.php.

[iv] “Security Council Report.” 2016. http://www.securitycouncilreport.org/chronology/yemen.php.

[v] “Security Council Report.” 2016. http://www.securitycouncilreport.org/chronology/yemen.php.

[vi] “Chronology: Yemen.” 2015. The Middle East Journal 69 (1): 131-133. http://proxyau.wrlc.org/login?url=http://search.proquest.com.proxyau.wrlc.org/docview/1659979462?accountid=8285.

[vii] “Security Council Report.” 2016. http://www.securitycouncilreport.org/chronology/yemen.php.

[viii] “Chronology: Yemen.” 2015. The Middle East Journal 69 (1): 131-133. http://proxyau.wrlc.org/login?url=http://search.proquest.com.proxyau.wrlc.org/docview/1659979462?accountid=8285.

[ix] “Security Council Report.” 2016. http://www.securitycouncilreport.org/chronology/yemen.php.

[x] “Chronology: Yemen.” 2016. The Middle East Journal 70 (4): 655-656. http://proxyau.wrlc.org/login?url=http://search.proquest.com.proxyau.wrlc.org/docview/1831194967?accountid=8285.

[xi] “Chronology: Yemen.” 2016. The Middle East Journal 70 (4): 655-656. http://proxyau.wrlc.org/login?url=http://search.proquest.com.proxyau.wrlc.org/docview/1831194967?accountid=8285.

[xii] “Security Council Report.” 2016. http://www.securitycouncilreport.org/chronology/yemen.php.

[xiii] “Security Council Report.” 2016. http://www.securitycouncilreport.org/chronology/yemen.php.

[xiv] “Security Council Report.” 2016. http://www.securitycouncilreport.org/chronology/yemen.php.

[xv] “Security Council Report.” 2016. http://www.securitycouncilreport.org/chronology/yemen.php.

[xvi] Aljazeera. 2016. “Yemen: Hadi’s Government Withdraws From UN Talks.”

[xvii] “Security Council Report.” 2016. http://www.securitycouncilreport.org/chronology/yemen.php.

[xviii] Lackner, Helen. 2016. “Who, Apart From its People, Wants Peace in Yemen?” Open Democracy.

[xix] Ghobarl, Mohammed. 2016. Reuters. “Yemen’s Houthis Voice Conditions for Possible Peace Talks.”

Since March 2015, the conflict in Yemen has escalated and conditions on the ground have deteriorated, observed in Yemen’s poverty rates, dearth of governance, and violations of international humanitarian law. The year 2016 has marked 14.4 million people in need of food (with 7.6 million characterized as severely food insecure), 19.4 million people in need of clean water and sanitation, and 14.1 million people in need of healthcare. An estimated two million Yemenis have been displaced from their homes. Yemen’s economy has also been ravaged, resulting in failures to pay government salaries and provide public services. In this state, the warring parties continue to grapple, leaving civilians to suffer the effects of blockades and airstrikes.[i]

Politically, the Houthi leadership appears to be ceding more control within their alliance to the General People’s Congress and Saleh. On 15 August 2016, after the collapse of the Kuwait negotiations, the Supreme Political Council formally replaced the Higher Revolutionary Committee. This new council consists of five Houthis and five General People’s Congress Saleh supporters, signaling a shift from formal Houthi dominance to a governing force split between the Houthi leadership and Saleh. In this act, Saleh has definitively reclaimed more power and now possesses a 50 percent stake in the decision-making. On a wider scale, this announcement also aims to legitimize Houthi rule. The Houthis are also bolstering their military campaign in some aspects. The Yemini rebel group acquired what appears to be an anti-ship missile from Iran and fired it at a United Arab Emirates military vessel on 1 October 2016. Greater military capability gives the Houthi rebels a more advantageous position when bargaining for a peace deal with the Hadi government.[ii]

The introduction of sophisticated weapons also presents the potential for AQAP to grow its arsenal and increase the scale of attacks. The US launched 31 airstrikes in 2016 as of October to combat AQAP. Though the US has increased its airstrike campaign to target AQAP leadership and degrade the organization’s safe haven, the group still controls territory along the coast and in the rural South.[iii] The key cities in its swath of influence are al Shihr, al Mukalla, Azzan, Habban, al Mahfad, Ahwar, Shaqra, Zinjibar, Ja’ar, and Hawata. Within the contested territory, coalition forces hold on to al Hazm, Ma’rib, Ataq, al Anad, and Aden.[iv] Pro-Hadi forces cleared Lawder city of AQAP presence in August 2016, and the Saudi-led coalition launched an initiative to clear Shaqra, Zinjibar, and Ja’ar and the Abyan governorate of AQAP militants days earlier. Uncontested control in the Abyan governorate remains elusive due to ongoing attacks. The group may be losing ground as of late, but it faced the same situation in 2012, and responded with a resurgence with the help of local support that opposed the Houthis.[v]

The failure of the Kuwait negotiations has seen a renewal and even an increase in Saudi-led coalition airstrikes throughout Yemen. There have been as many as over 100 airstrikes in one day.[vi] Additionally, the Saudi-led coalition is now conducting direct strikes on the southern areas harboring al Qaeda and ISIL fighters. Before, the US was the lone force striking these areas. The accuracy of this targeting remains unsatisfactory, evidenced by the destruction of another Médecins Sans Frontières hospital on 15 August 2016.[vii] One of the deadliest attacks in the Yemen civil war occurred on 8 October 2016 when a Saudi-led coalition airstrike killed approximately 150 mourners at a funeral for the father a Houthi interior minister. This most recent attack has incited outrage from foreign powers – including the United Nations, the European Union, and the US – and Yemenis. Thousands of people assembled at the United Nations headquarters to demand an international investigation. The Arab coalition has denied responsibility.[viii]

In addition to the Hadi government’s blockade and control of airspace, Hadi is now attempting to break the opposition by relocating the neutral Central bank of Yemen to Aden and replacing its senior officials. This would certainly exacerbate the already desperate condition of the Yemini people by creating more difficulties for importers of food and fuel. Already, half of Yemen’s population is classified as “food insecure” and seven million people are close to starvation.[ix] [x]

References

[i] United Nations Office for the Coordination of Human Affairs. 2016. “Crisis Overview.”

[ii] Toumaj, Amir. 2016. The Long War Journal. “Yemini Houthis Fire at Ship with Iranian-Supplied Missile.” Public Multimedia Inc.

[iii] Roggio, Bill. 2016. The Long War Journal. “US Military Kills 5 AQAP Members in Central Yemen.” Public Multimedia Inc.

[iv] Katherine Zimmerman. 2016. “AQAP Expanding Behind Yemen’s Frontlines.” Critical Threats. http://www.criticalthreats.org/yemen/zimmerman-aqap-expanding-behind-yemens-frontlines-february-17-2016.

[v] Nicholas Jonsson. 2016. “2016 Yemen Crisis Situation Report: August 25.” Critical Threats. http://www.criticalthreats.org/yemen/yemen-crisis-situation-reports-august-25-2016.

[vi] Aljazeera. 2016. “Yemen: Arab Coalition to Probe Sanaa Funeral Attack.”

[vii] Aljazeera. 2016. “Yemen: Arab Coalition to Probe Sanaa Funeral Attack.”

[viii] Aljazeera. 2016. “Yemen: Arab Coalition to Probe Sanaa Funeral Attack.”

[ix] Lackner, Helen. 2016. “Who, Apart From its People, Wants Peace in Yemen?” Open Democracy.

[x] Aljazeera. 2016. “Yemen: Hadi’s Government Withdraws From UN Talks.”

Many foreign powers have competing interests in Yemen. The conflict in Yemen, as well as the counteroffensives to end the conflict, have strengthened AQAP, which already presented a capable threat to US national security.[i] Taxes and looting have enriched the terrorist organization, allowing it to expand, gain recruits with specialized skills, and grow to one of al Qaeda’s “most potent affiliates.”[ii] AQAP’s technical expertise and international ambitions concern make it motivated and capable of carrying out attacks against US targets at home and abroad. An example of AQAP’s power and ambition is its memorable 2009 Christmas Day bombing attempt on a US-bound airliner. Instability in the region provides a safe haven for AQAP to operate and hold territory with mitigated pressure from the government and US counterterrorism measures. Accordingly, the US carries out military operations and drone strikes to degrade AQAP. The US is further invested in seeing the return of a Hadi government because the Houthis tote anti-Western rhetoric and are decidedly opposed to US involvement. This complication has resulted in further obstacles as the Houthis advance in Yemen, causing the US to curtail its air campaign.[iii] [iv]

The Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) established a Yemeni Wilayat in 2014 in an effort to extend its caliphate. The affiliate has carried out local attacks beginning in 2015, including a suicide operation that killed over 120 people and wounded over 300 people, leading to ISIL-Yemen’s designation as a Foreign Terrorist Organization according to the US Department of State.[v] ISIL-Yemen has largely struggled to establish itself amongst existing forces, particularly its terrorist competitor, AQAP. Instead of occupying swaths of territory, the group operates through small cells to conduct attacks focused in Aden and al Mukalla. ISIL’s territorial struggles in Syria and Iraq, declining brand, decreasing pay for ISIL fighters, and increasing tensions with the local ISIL leadership have discouraged the organization’s influence in Yemen.[vi]

Saudi Arabia and Iran also have vested interests in the conflict in Yemen, giving this civil war the undertones of a proxy war. Situated on the Bab al-Mandab strait, Yemen is in immediate proximity to the waterway that ushers out much of the world’s oil supply. Naturally, Shia-ruled Iran and Sunni-ruled Saudi Arabia both object to their opposing neighbor gaining more control in this strategic region. Saudi Arabia openly backs the Hadi government, while Iran has denied supporting the Houthis financially or militarily. China has publically pledged its support to the Hadi government and Saudi Arabia in the interest of peace in the Middle East, though it has taken no bold action to backup this support. In 2009 the Yemeni government claimed it uncovered several caches of Iranian-made weaponry in the Sa’dah and Amran provinces, including explosives, machine guns, and missiles. Speculation exists as to whether Iran advised the Houthis in regards to structuring their military and political wings, possibly through the Lebanese Hezbollah. [vii]  More recently, advanced Iranian weaponry, including missiles, is being delivered at a faster tempo to the Houthis to bolster their military capability.[viii] Saudi Arabia has gone as far as to add the Houthis to its designated list of terrorist organizations.[ix] [x] [xi]

Russia stands alongside the competing interests of Iran and Saudi Arabia, backing both the Houthi-Saleh and the Hadi sides of the conflict simply to gain influence in Yemen. Russia has urged both parties to engage in peaceful negotiations, but it has also remained keenly aware of its interests with Saudi Arabia and therefore the Hadi government while praising the Houthi-Saleh Supreme Political Committee. Saleh consequently invited Russia to use bases, airports, and ports in Yemen to combat terrorism. Russia seeks to benefit from either side of the conflict, unlike the contest between Iran and Saudi Arabia.[xii]

The civilian casualties as a result of the Saudi-led coalition airstrikes in Yemen have provoked policy discussions from many third parties. The Netherlands and the EU halted weapons sales to Saudi Arabia in 2015. The US continues logistical, tactical, and intelligence support to Saudi Arabia, but a bipartisan resolution introduced to the US Congress on 8 September 2016 could suspend arms sales to Saudi Arabia in response to the humanitarian crisis in Yemen. The United Kingdom’s parliament is divided on whether weapons sales should be suspended as charges of violations of international humanitarian law accumulate. British leadership, however, has steadfastly defended its arms sales to Saudi Arabia. Recently, the 8 October 2016 airstrike has provoked an unprecedented amount of international pressure on Saudi Arabia. The US, for example, has begun an immediate review of its support to Saudi Arabia in response to the civilian casualties.[xiii] [xiv] [xv]

References

[i] Yara Bayoumy, Noah Browning, and Mohammed Ghobari. 2016. “How Saudi Arabia’s War in Yemen Has Made Al Qaeda Stronger – and Richer.” Reuters.

[ii] Yara Bayoumy, Noah Browning, and Mohammed Ghobari. 2016. “How Saudi Arabia’s War in Yemen Has Made Al Qaeda Stronger – and Richer.” Reuters.

[iii] British Broadcasting Cooperation. 2016. “Yemen Crisis: Who is Fighting Whom?”

[iv] Khaled Fattah. 2009. “Yemen: A Slogan and Six Wars.” Conflicts Forum.

[v] U.S. Department of State, Office of the Spokesperson. 2016. “Terrorist Designations of ISIL-Yemen, ISIL-Saudi Arabia, and ISIL-Libya.”

[vi] Nicholas Jonsson. 2016. “2016 Yemen Crisis Situation Report: August 25.” Critical Threats. http://www.criticalthreats.org/yemen/yemen-crisis-situation-reports-august-25-2016.

[vii] Brehony, Noel. 2015. Yemen and the Huthis: Genesis of the 2015 Crisis. Asian Affairs 46 (2): 232.

[viii] Yara Bayoumy and Phil Stewart. 2016. “Exclusive: Iran Steps Up Weapons Supply to Yemen’s Houthis via Oman.” Reuters.

[ix] British Broadcasting Cooperation. 2016. “Yemen Crisis: Who is Fighting Whom?”

[x] Brehony, Noel. 2015. Yemen and the Huthis: Genesis of the 2015 Crisis. Asian Affairs 46 (2): 232.

[xi] Khaled Fattah. 2009. “Yemen: A Slogan and Six Wars.” Conflicts Forum.

[xii] Katherine Zimmerman and Jon Diamond. 2016. “Challenging the Yemeni State: ISIS in Aden and al Mukalla.” Critical Threats. http://www.criticalthreats.org/yemen/zimmerman-diamond-challenging-yemeni-state-isis-in-aden-al-mukalla-june-9-2016

[xiii] Lackner, Helen. 2016. “Who, Apart From its People, Wants Peace in Yemen?” Open Democracy.

[xiv] Summers, Juana and Labott, Elise. 2016. Cable News Network. “Lawmakers Seek to Stall $1B Arms Sale to Saudis.”

[xv] The Guardian. 2016. “MPs Split Over UK-Saudi Arms Sales Amid Bid to Water Down Report.”

The Hadi government, in conjunction with the Arab coalition made up of Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Morocco, Jordan, Sudan, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Qatar, and Bahrain, and the Houthi-Saleh alliance has shown little regard for the dire state of the people that they seek to govern. Even now the Saudi-led coalition has denied responsibility for the 8 October 2016 airstrike and has not taken any investigative action. The people of Yemen cannot continue to tolerate this apathy, but there is little indication of any of these actors altering their position or methods. The humanitarian crisis will only continue to deteriorate if left for the Hadi government and the Houthi-Saleh alliance to solve.

In this depreciating environment, AQAP will only flourish. With the introduction of sophisticated weapons like missiles as a result of the escalating proxy war, AQAP also has the potential to increase its capabilities and execute larger scale attacks. Defensive action in Yemen will continue to focus on the Houthis and give AQAP room to consolidate and plan, particularly in the current climate where ISIL is drawing much more universal opposition. ISIL’s brutal tactics have alienated much of the Muslim community, giving the al Qaeda franchise a more moderate perception. With this positive comparison, enduring anti-Western sentiments, and an enduring safe haven, AQAP is surely plotting its next move to attack the West and reinvigorate its position in the terrorism scene.[i]

Considering the shocking humanitarian losses and the distressing deprivation in Yemen, the United Nations and other influential countries cannot stand idly by. The UN should renew calls for a ceasefire in Yemen, the facilitation of critical humanitarian aid, and negotiations to resolve the civil war in Yemen. These are existing aims of the US government, but the US should prioritize these goals above preserving the Hadi leadership. An agreement similar to the GCC Transition Deal could provide peaceful transition of power and stifle the Houthi violence by urging the rebel movement into a legitimate political process.

These are arduous tasks that demand international efforts and redoubled humanitarian aid; individual countries can, however, independently address their support to Iran or the Saudi-led coalition. The proxy war between Iran and Saudi Arabia only serves to prolong and escalate the conflict in Yemen, and support to either side fuels the proxy war. The US and Britain in particular can cease support, particularly arms sales, to Saudi Arabia in response to the 8 October 2016 airstrike. Contributing to the Arab coalition is not solving counterterrorism concerns about AQAP, so countries with strong counterterrorism capacities should instead divert their resources to coordinating their own counterterrorism operations in Yemen by augmenting efforts to share intelligence.

Reference

[i] Daniel Byman. 2015. “Comparing Al Qaeda and ISIS: Different Goals, Different Targets.” The Brookings Institute.

Brehony, N., Al-Sarhan, S. S., & Georgetown Chimes Book Endowment Fund. (2015). Rebuilding Yemen: Political, Economic and Social Challenges.

Discusses reconstruction addressing improved governance through a federal government, the patronage networks of the previous regime, Yemen’s human and natural resources, and women in security.

https://american.summon.serialssolutions.com/#!/search?bookMark=ePnHCXMw42JgAfZbU5khgwqWwO6DkYkZ-K5QS2AhCbrWyoSTQQCoF3rrs0IkaBiMm0HZzTXE2UM3ETpPEZ8OHhLOTQS2OuOBtQpow6cRN4MOHlWw6Zp4UDceaLMRcYYCAL_INEQ

Esfandiary, D., & Tabatabai, A. (2016). Yemen: An Opportunity for Iran-Saudi Dialogue? The Washington Quarterly, 39(2), 155-174. doi:10.1080/0163660X.2016.1204415

Discusses Iran and Saudi Arabia’s involvement in Yemen and the implications for international relations.

http://www-tandfonline-com.proxyau.wrlc.org/doi/abs/10.1080/0163660X.2016.1204415

Ghafarzade, B. (2016). Yemen: Post-conflict federalism to avoid disintegration. New York University Journal of International Law and Politics, 48(3), 933-1006.

Discusses intergovernmental relations, federalism, and institutional arrangements in relation to post-war reconstruction in Yemen.

https://american.summon.serialssolutions.com/#!/search?bookMark=ePnHCXMwNZ3NCsIwDICHePDnHaQHr4VtWbvUm6jDB_DiqbRxlR1koMPnN3HbvfTSkPZL6JdNtmRubRf_Zi6TSQmMRKMImWMDVjMMFTYv11l9lyLYQclkWk3TRwjViEdB_H8vNfTq-O27hzozxk8ChU6aibfmcjtd9TQxQD-xAF0TUgwYYg0VoeHLJ6JDEcSTSSblIWCbWgsWMRlngyvJpoAE0UWGygTbbDduK9nZyxEP70C-Mg4cB790p_fjgjlv-xClJEHDxxeiaARn-AH1A3YWSlg

Houthis, Saudis and Jihadis; Yemen. (2015, Dec 12). The Economist, 417, 49.

Provides and overview of the warring parties involved in the Yemen Civil War and how that has affected the jihadi environment. http://proxyau.wrlc.org/login?url=http://search.proquest.com.proxyau.wrlc.org/docview/1748568492?accountid=8285

Rabi, U. (2015). Yemen: Revolution, Civil War and Unification. London: New York, NY. I.B. Tauris.

Analysis of ecological, cultural and historical structures of Yemen, revolutions, the decline of the socialist and Arab nationalist revolutions, Yemen’s unification, Yemen as a “Failed State,” and the Arab Spring.

https://american.summon.serialssolutions.com/#!/search?bookMark=ePnHCXMw42JgAfZbU5kZuAzNLYCdZEvIfKEluLFqYWLIAY1sYMfEHHQUOCcDayRoIIybQcHNNcTZQzcROlMRDx2_ADZOgY14YDfDiJtBE4cS2ExNvKGZuaEJ6NpsIowDABVMLnI

Perkins, B. M. (2016). Yemen: Between Revolution and Regression. Studies in Conflict & Terrorism, 1-18. doi:10.1080/1057610X.2016.1205368

Applies theories of revolution in relation to the Arab Spring revolt and the conflict in Yemen to analyze the revolutionary environment and make future projections.

http://www-tandfonline-com.proxyau.wrlc.org/doi/full/10.1080/1057610X.2016.1205368

Ward, C. (. S. (2015). The Water Crisis in Yemen: Managing Extreme Water Scarcity in the Middle East. London: I.B. Tauris.

Addresses how dearth of water has affected the Middle East.

https://american.summon.serialssolutions.com/#!/search?bookMark=ePnHCXMw42JgAfZbU5kZuAzNLYCdZEsj8Lo_C2Cz2hB01hwHNLJBWzZNDEwMORkkgQGiUA5sWRUpADNKcWaxQmaeQiRocIybQcHNNcTZQzcROnsRDx3TADZYgU1pYEvbiJtBE4cS2OxNPLBDYAxMZaDL2AkaBwB9rDWq

Yemen Humanitarian Data Exchange, 2016

Dataset compiled by the International Organization for Migration featuring internally displaced persons residing in Yemen. List is baseline data based on direct observational and anecdotal evidence.

https://data.humdata.org/dataset/yemen-iom-dtm-dataset-april-2016

Effects of the 2008 Flood on Economic Performance and Food Security in Yemen

Long-term effects, considering region and level of impact, of the 2008 flooding on Yemen’s economy and food security.

https://www.ifpri.org/country/yemen

Yemen: Standard DHS, 2013

Demographic and Health Surveys on Yemen collected using survey questionnaires, biomarker testing, and geographic location. Standard DHS are household surveys evaluating indicators in the areas of population, health, and nutrition. Surveys feature large sample sizes and are conducted every five years.

http://dhsprogram.com/data/dataset/Yemen_Standard-DHS_2013.cfm

Quality of Government Institute Standard Dataset, 2016

A cross-sectional dataset with global coverage featuring cross-national comparative data on quality of government and correlating factors, including over 2000 variables.

https://knoema.com/QOGISD2016/quality-of-government-institute-standard-dataset-2016

Drone Wars Archives

Yemen: Reported U.S. covert actions 2016

Details on covert activity attributed to the U.S. gathered by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism. Includes total reported strikes, total reported killed, civilians reported killed, children reported killed, and total reported injured.

https://www.thebureauinvestigates.com/2016/01/18/yemen-reported-us-covert-actions-2016/

UMass Drone Database

Dataset of individuals killed in U.S. drone strikes, which began in 2002. Categories include suspected militants, apparent civilians, and unknowns.

http://umassdrone.org/yemen.php

CIRI Human Rights Data Project

http://www.humanrightsdata.com

Features quantitative data on 202 countries measuring government respect for 15 internationally accepted human rights.