Jemenkrieg-Mosaik 728 - Yemen War Mosaic 728

Yemen Press Reader 728: 19. März 2021: Jemen-Rückblick, Januar-Februar 2021: Die Huthis vor Marib usw. – Bidens Problem im Jemen: Die Huthis gewinnen – Marib und die Endphase des Jemenkrieges ..
Bei diesem Beitrag handelt es sich um ein Blog aus der Freitag-Community

Eingebetteter Medieninhalt

Eingebetteter Medieninhalt

... Das Lebensalter einer jemenitischen Frau – Wie Jemens alte Ordnung die Hoffnungen auslöschte – Können europäische Rüstungsunternehmen für Kriegsverbrechen im Jemen haftbar gemacht werden? – Wie die USA und die arabischen Staaten zum Machterhalt die religiöse Autorität manipulieren – und mehr

March 19, 2021: The Yemen Review, January-February 2021: Houthis at the gates of Marib etc. – Biden’s problem in Yemen: The Houthis are winning – Marib and the closing bell of the Yemen War – The life phases of a Yemeni woman – How Yemen’s old order snuffed out the hopes – Can European arms companies be held liable for war crimes in Yemen? – How the U.S. and Arab States manipulate religious authority to maintain their power – and more

Schwerpunkte / Key aspects

Kursiv: Siehe Teil 2 / In Italics: Look in part 2:

Klassifizierung / Classification

Für wen das Thema ganz neu ist / Who is new to the subject

cp1 Am wichtigsten / Most important

cp1a Am wichtigsten: Coronavirus und Seuchen / Most important: Coronavirus and epidemics

cp2 Allgemein / General

cp2a Allgemein: Saudische Blockade / General: Saudi blockade

cp3 Humanitäre Lage / Humanitarian situation

cp4 Flüchtlinge / Refugees

cp5 Nordjemen und Huthis / Northern Yemen and Houthis

cp6 Separatisten und Hadi-Regierung im Südjemen / Separatists and Hadi government in Southern Yemen

cp7 UNO und Friedensgespräche / UN and peace talks

cp8 Saudi-Arabien / Saudi Arabia

cp9 USA

cp9a USA-Iran Krise: Spannungen am Golf / US-Iran crisis: Tensions at the Gulf

cp10 Großbritannien / Great Britain

cp11 Deutschland / Germany

cp12 Andere Länder / Other countries

cp13a Waffenhandel / Arms trade

cp13b Kulturerbe / Cultural heritage

cp13c Wirtschaft / Economy

cp14 Terrorismus / Terrorism

cp15 Propaganda

cp16 Saudische Luftangriffe / Saudi air raids

cp17 Kriegsereignisse / Theater of War

cp17a Kriegsereignisse: Schlacht um Marib / Theater of War: Marib battle

cp18 Kampf um Hodeidah / Hodeidah battle

cp19 Sonstiges / Other

Klassifizierung / Classification




(Kein Stern / No star)

? = Keine Einschatzung / No rating

A = Aktuell / Current news

B = Hintergrund / Background

C = Chronik / Chronicle

D = Details

E = Wirtschaft / Economy

H = Humanitäre Fragen / Humanitarian questions

K = Krieg / War

P = Politik / Politics

pH = Pro-Houthi

pS = Pro-Saudi

T = Terrorismus / Terrorism

Für wen das Thema ganz neu ist / Who is new to the subject

Ältere einführende Artikel u. Überblicke für alle, die mit den Ereignissen im Jemen noch nicht vertraut sind, hier:

Yemen War: Older introductory articles, overviews, for those who are still unfamiliar with the Yemen war here:

cp1 Am wichtigsten / Most important

(** B H K P)

Houthis at the Gates of Marib – The Yemen Review, January-February 2021


Yemen at a Glance

State of the War

The Battle for Marib

Houthi forces edged closer to Marib city in February, repeatedly firing missiles on the capital of Marib governorate during a fresh push to capture the last major northern city under government control. The fall of Marib city would be a catastrophic blow for the government. It also would compel thousands of civilians – including internally displaced persons (IDPs) who fled their homes earlier in the war and settled in Marib – to leave the city for other areas, in order to escape the conflict. Some IDPs have already left camps in the vicinity of Marib Dam, on the border between Serwah district and Marib city.

The Houthis began their latest push toward Marib city in the first week of February, after sending reinforcements to frontlines in Serwah and Medghel districts. In the second half of 2020, the Houthis appeared to be focused on pushing toward Marib city from the south of the governorate, but government lines in Jabal Murad and Al-Abdiyah districts held relatively well, and tribes in those areas rebuffed Houthi entreaties to either join them or grant them safe passage through tribal territory. The main axis of the Houthi offensive came from the direction of Serwah district, as the Houthis attempted to move east toward Marib city.

Heavy fighting between the Houthis and the internationally recognized Yemeni government, along with its allied tribal forces, took place in Al-Makhdarah area of southern Serwah; Al-Buhayshaa in southeastern Serwah; and Haylan, Adhuf and Al-Mashja’ in eastern Serwah. The fighting has, at the time of writing, resulted in a large number of casualties on both sides and limited Houthi territorial gains in the direction of Marib city.

Other Frontlines

Cross-Border Attacks


The Political Arena

Developments in Government-Controlled Territory

New Security Chief Appointed in Aden

Reunified GCC Backs Yemen’s Internationally Recognized Government

UN Envoy Travels to Aden

STC Leader Reaffirms Secession Goal

Cracks Emerge in Aden’s Power-Sharing Government

STC Meets with Russian Foreign Ministry

Hadrami Tribal Alliance Urges Hadi to Declare Hadramawt a Federal Region

The Stockholm Agreement

Prisoner Exchange Talks End Without a Deal

Growing Calls for the Government to Withdraw from Stockholm Agreement

Developments in Houthi-Controlled Territory

Houthis Release a Circular Banning Online Events

Court Resumes Prosecution of Baha’i Religious Minority

Authorities in Sana’a Police Gender Roles and Women’s Rights

Houthis Delay Inspection of FSO Safer Oil Tanker

International Developments

US State Department Labels Houthis a Terrorist Group — Briefly

Biden Administration Prioritizes Diplomacy in Yemen

Iranian Official Declares Yemen Extension of Islamic Revolution

More Houthi Figures Added to UN, US Sanctions Lists

Economic Updates

In Government-Controlled Territory

UN Report Accuses CBY-Aden of Embezzling US$423 million

Government Appoints Ernst & Young for External Audit

Yemeni Rial Depreciates in Government Areas after Temporary Improvement

First Fuel Shipment Arrives to Qana, Shabwa

Developments in Houthi-Controlled Territory

Renewed and Prolonged Hudaydah Fuel Import Standoff


The Panel of Experts Err on Yemen by Rafat Al-Akhali

Marib and the Closing Bell of the Yemen War by Abdulghani Al-Iryani

Washington’s Lack of Options in Marib by Charlotte Kamin

Myth of Batarfi’s Arrest Plays into Weakened AQAP Narrative by Hussam Radman

Don’t Import the Libyan Model to Yemen by Maysaa Shujaa Al Deen

In Focus

A Body Without a Leg in a Country Without a Head by Abdelnasser Ahmad Aqlan

A Day in Line by Farah Al-Wazeer

(** B K P)

Biden’s Problem in Yemen: The Houthis are Winning

What comes after the dust settles will inevitably be a unique product of the past six years of civil war and human suffering. Any realistic foreign policy that Washington adopts in relation to Yemen must accept this, and certain other de facto realities, to engage with the war-ravaged country on pragmatic terms.

The Houthi rebels currently feel emboldened in Yemen’s war. The Iran-aligned movement believes that it is winning this gruesome conflict. This belief is well-founded.

Why Stop a War You’re Winning?

A major dilemma for the Biden administration is how to deal with the Houthis’ resolve to continue fighting. Because the Houthis are currently on the offensive, it will be extremely difficult for the U.S. leadership to figure out how to incentivize them to lay down their arms and trust a peace process that will require them to make concessions to their domestic, regional, and international adversaries. Much of the difficulty for Biden’s team stems from the fact that the U.S. has basically zero direct influence over the Houthis. By virtue of Washington’s support for Saudi Arabia in the war, the Houthi rebels understandably see the U.S. as an enemy

Marib First, Negotiations Later

Indeed, the Saudi bombing campaign’s greatest achievements have been negative. It has built up extreme vitriol and worsened tribal and sectarian divisions in Yemen, which makes it far harder for sufficient or even minimal levels of trust to form among the warring parties. Ansar Allah is concerned that disarming without sufficient guarantees for protection of the Houthis would be too risky. Ultimately, the Houthis justifiably fear being attacked by their Yemeni and Saudi enemies after they have been defanged through peace negotiations. Within this context, Houthi fighters have been pressing on with their offensive on Marib and their increasingly sophisticated rocket and drone attacks against Saudi targets. As the rebels see it, both serve to increase Houthi leverage prior to roundtable talks.

There is a certain short-term logic to this strategy. If serious negotiations on peace begin after a Houthi takeover of Marib, Ansar Allah would be in a far stronger position to dictate terms.

On the other hand, Ansar Allah is taking significant risks in its push to capture more land prior to negotiations. The Houthis’ aggression in their quest to conquer Marib may unite the previously divided anti-Houthi forces against them. It also might make the Biden administration less open to engaging in dialogue with a group clearly committed to an escalation, rather than a reduction, of the conflict.

Bringing the Houthis to the Table

In line with Biden’s expressed commitment to resolving the Yemen war diplomatically, how could Washington give Ansar Allah reason to see a ceasefire as a better path than continued warfare? To begin, the U.S. could demonstrate goodwill by convincing Saudi Arabia to end the blockade of Yemen, including the airport in Sana’a and the port at Hodeida, both under Houthi control. This siege has had a minimal effect on the Houthis’ ability to fight, but has been directly responsible for the deaths of countless Yemenis. Such a step would signal the Biden administration’s commitment to concrete steps aimed at helping to wind down this conflict and address unfolding humanitarian concerns. In the process, if the Saudis agree to lifting the blockade, the Houthis could, in turn, agree to halt all attacks on Saudi territory to address Riyadh’s legitimate security concerns.

Additionally, Washington should take advantage of all future opportunities to engage the Houthis in constructive dialogue in search of trust-building measures and achievable outcomes, generating momentum for eventual negotiation of a political settlement. The U.S. will most likely depend on other countries that can facilitate dialogue between Washington and the Iran-aligned rebels whom the U.S.-backed Saudi coalition has been fighting for six years. States uniquely qualified to play this role include Oman, Qatar, and possibly Russia — all of which have some history of engagement and dialogue with the Houthis.

Regardless of how the Biden administration approaches the Houthi movement, it is safe to say that the future of large areas of northern Yemen will remain under Houthi control, even after an end to the fighting with the Houthis which is but one of several zones of conflict in Yemen today. In terms of the country’s political landscape, there will be no return to past eras in Yemeni history.

Looking ahead, it is safe to assume that Yemen will remain a deeply fractured country that needs far more international aid than it currently receives. However, there is no doubt that the continuation of the armed conflict is the main reason why outside groups are unable to provide the necessary help to the millions of Yemenis.

Ultimately, the Biden administration would be wise to back up its words about addressing humanitarian disasters in Yemen with concrete actions that prioritize the need to save lives above any other purpose. The only way that this can be done is through more engagement between Washington and the Houthis, and President Biden’s negotiating team must use these channels to slowly add to the scope and scale of negotiations – by Kristian Coates Ulrichsen and Giorgio Cafiero =

(** B P)

Marib and the Closing Bell of the Yemen War

For several years, I have been speaking about five obstacles to peace in Yemen.

The first is the war economy. The collapse of the Yemeni state, and the extraordinary conditions of war, have made it possible for people in the right places to profit in ways they could never manage in peacetime.

On the Houthi side, the need to ‘defend Yemen against international aggression’ has been used to muffle voices of protest against naked looting that turned semi-literate Houthi apparatchiks, known as supervisors (mushrifeen), into billionaires overnight. Salaries are not paid and services are not delivered, freeing up hundreds of billions of Yemeni rials for corruption. Properties of Yemenis who opposed the Houthis were confiscated or outright looted by members of the movement. Harsh, often arbitrary, tax collection raised revenues by 500 percent, according to a credible source in Sana’a. The collection of illegal fees – from businesses, property owners, farmers and even school children – has reached absurd levels. Surcharges on petroleum products, imported mostly by companies owned by members of the movement, were at one point equal to the entire tax revenue that Houthi authorities collected, according to the same source. Humanitarian assistance by the World Food Programme (WFP) is routinely and widely diverted. Real estate in Sana’a, in the middle of war and a crushing economic crisis that leaves many teetering on the edge of famine, has witnessed a boom not seen in a long time.

Corruption and war profiteering is equally rampant on the side of the internationally recognized government. The government’s main source of funds is Saudi Arabia. According to a cabinet-level Yemeni government official who spoke with the Sana’a Center, the Saudi government was meant to transferred the sum of 40 billion Saudi riyals (US$10.66 billion) to the internationally recognized government in 2019, though it received only SR25 billion (US$6.66 bn). The official said the Yemeni government representatives receiving the payment had to give the Saudi officials delivering it SR10 billion, a common practice in the Kingdom. Two-thirds of the remaining SR15 billion went directly to the pockets of the top Yemeni leadership, and the remaining SR5 billion – one-eighth of the originally intended transfer – was used to meet government operational expenses and pay salaries. With this massive sum going only to a small circle at the top, other officials below them were forced to line their pockets with money from other sources. Revenues from crude oil and cooking gas sales are often not deposited in the Central Bank of Yemen. Humanitarian aid provided by the Saudi King Salman Center is also subject to massive diversion – for instance, political party leaders in Taiz told me that the Center makes monthly allocations of thousands of food baskets to distribute to loyalists at their discretion, with many of these sold on to commercial traders. Often, ill-gotten profits from the conflict have gone to purchasing real estate in Cairo, Istanbul and a host of other destinations.

Following the failed Kuwait peace talks in 2016, there was a preponderance of evidence that the war economy was the salient factor in the conduct of the war.

The United States and the United Kingdom were complicit in that travesty. Both continued supporting Saudi Arabia despite knowledge of its untenable situation. No one was willing to tell the emperor he had no clothes.

The UN mission to Yemen, most notably the office of the special envoy, has been equally culpable in failing to recognize the centrality of the war economy to the Yemen conflict. Rather, it has continued to chase the mirage of a peace that will somehow materialize out of thin air.

A third obstacle to peace is the obsolete legal framework of the peace process. UN Security Council Resolution 2216 (2015) stipulates that the Houthis must surrender their weapons and withdraw from Sana’a. These conditions of outright surrender left the Houthis no option but to keep fighting. The international community is now ready to modify resolution 2216 with another more conducive to peace, several European diplomats told the Sana’a Center, if Houthis demonstrate good faith.

Another problematic international framework for Yemen is the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) Initiative, which led to former President Ali Abdullah Saleh stepping down in the wake of Yemen’s 2011 uprising and was intended to serve as a roadmap for a democratic transition in the country. However, the initiative’s stipulations no longer reflect the current challenges or actors in the conflict. The time seems ripe to modify the GCC Initiative as well.

The fourth obstacle to peace is the lack of proper representation for Yemeni stakeholders in the peace process. Much of the blame for this is due to President Abdo Rabbu Mansour Hadi. Weaponizing the concept of ‘unity’ against his longtime southern rivals, Hadi has done his utmost to monopolize southern representation in the peace process. This left the majority of southern factions, particularly those in favor of secession, out in the cold. These actors, most notably the Southern Transitional Council, with the support of UAE, then fought to earn their inclusion, which was ultimately enshrined in the Riyadh Agreement.

The last obstacle to peace is the division within the anti-Houthi camp and the overall lack of leadership.

With the five obstacles decreasing or disappearing, Yemenis are in all likelihood on their way to an uneasy peace, dominated by fractious militias, and the beginning of the long march toward restoring their state – by Abdulghani Al-Iryani, senior researcher at the Sana’a Center for Strategic Studies

(** B H)

The Life Phases of a Yemeni Woman

This study examines the diversity of experiences of women and girls in Yemen who face differing gender dynamics and challenges at various stages in their lives. It explores age-specific issues during five phases of life for girls and women in the following categories:

Birth, Infancy and Childhood (0-9 years of age);

Puberty and Adolescence (10-17 years of age);

Youth (18-29 years of age);

Middle Age (30-49 years of age);

The Twilight Years (50+ years of age).

This study looks at underlying gender dynamics and cultural, social, political and economic challenges at each phase, as well as noting salient changes in the context of the war and the massive humanitarian crisis in Yemen. Proverbs are presented in each section to illustrate commonly encountered attitudes and beliefs about women at various stages in their life, which reflect complexities in Yemeni society and encompass contradictory ideas and norms. Each section also includes profiles which are composites of real women and girls whom the author has encountered over decades of living, working and conducting research in Yemen. The study seeks to present information that can contribute to gender-sensitive programming in Yemen. The final section includes recommendations for each age category addressing key issues examined in the study.

Findings and Recommendations

The following table presents findings from this study and recommendations organized by age group. These offer guidance for donors and those implementing programs to better address the needs of girls and women.


With the conflict, school enrollment rates have deteriorated for all children, including girls. Education is critical to addressing a wide range of gender issues. In the current crisis the government and local authorities face challenges to maintain the functioning of the education system.

It is suggested that efforts to improve girls’ enrollment seek community and family support to provide incentives for female teachers, engage mothers and fathers in awareness raising efforts about girls’ education and emphasize that education for girls can contribute to better employment and income earning opportunities.

Corporal punishment of children is a challenge both in the home and in school. This phenomenon negatively impacts the emotional and educational development of children.

In more stable areas of the country, consider piloting an awareness raising campaign combatting corporal punishment, potentially as part of a broader social cohesion initiative addressing conflict dynamics and the increase in violence in schools.

PUBERTY AND ADOLESCENCE (10-17 years of age)

Cultural gender beliefs in Yemen (i.e. women being categorized as du’afa, the potential for fitna and conceptions of family honor) shape ‘protective’ practices designed to shelter girls and women.

Organize tandem workshops for young women and their maharim to: magnify the impact of training; foster changes in family gender dynamics; and support women’s careers, as well as contribute to employment readiness for young men.

Child marriage has been a challenging issue in Yemen for decades, but since 2015 it is believed to have increased significantly as a negative coping strategy for destitute families to mitigate economic vulnerability and insecurity.

Seek to implement interventions to improve income-earning capacities and skills with girls at risk and survivors of child marriage and other forms of gender-based violence, mixed with other categories of vulnerable women (to mitigate against stigmatizing individuals), folded into broader economic empowerment activities.

YOUTH (18-29 years of age)

Entrepreneurship and resilience are hallmarks of Yemeni culture and have mitigated the devastating impact of the current crisis, with women playing an active role, particularly in urban areas, though humanitarian and development efforts seeking to improve income earning often reinforce gender roles.

It is suggested to conduct low profile research among female entrepreneurs to provide strategic insights. Microfinance and income-generating activities for women should seek to build self-confidence, negotiating skills and creative problem solving. Explore ways for such activities with vulnerable women to engage men in the family.

A positive development observed has been that with increasing economic activity among women there is now growing social acceptance of such activities, which may signify more enduring changes to gender norms. It is unclear if such changes are temporary in nature.

Consider launching a broad public campaign that highlights the positive contributions of women during the conflict, seeks to impact the public discourse on gender and celebrates the positive roles of both men and women during the crisis. The campaign could engage public opinion influencers such as imams, tribal leaders and media figures.

MIDDLE AGE (30-49 years of age)

The lack of affordable female-friendly transportation options in rural and urban settings exacerbates gender disparities in accessing services and existing gender biases.

Options to explore in urban areas could include: mobile phone taxi apps in cities (similar to Kareem or Uber); transportation vouchers for vulnerable women; and women-driven taxis. Outside of cities options could include motorcycles operated by women, and hybrid taxis.

Yemeni women’s experiences and gender dynamics are diverse; humanitarian response efforts too often prioritize quick impact activities, thus potentially harming the elderly, disabled and socially marginalized groups, including girls and women.

It is suggested that gender analysis is integrated into all project phases, with meaningful input from qualified local gender specialists. Support local academic and civil society activities to build additional capacity in the area of gender analysis to improve gender-sensitive programming.

THE TWILIGHT YEARS (50+ years of age)

Despite the depth of the crisis in the country, Yemenis demonstrate high levels of resilience, both at the individual and communal level. Support networks contribute to resilience and women play a significant role in building and maintaining social solidarity through various practices.

Consider supporting research on sources of resilience in the Yemen context, examining how social solidarity works in specific areas and exploring the role of women in resilience. Additionally, small scale research initiatives can explore resilience factors among women to help inform interventions that will sustain and not damage such elements.

The elderly, with a preponderance of older women, and the disabled, often face challenges in collecting food rations and other aid. Such challenges lead to a reduction in assistance, as vulnerable beneficiaries often have to give a portion of their ration to others for collection and transportation.

Ensure that distribution sites accommodate the needs of the physically vulnerable such as elderly women. Engage third party monitoring entities to assess if such practices are in place. If such distribution arrangements prove too complex, those with mobility issues could be provided additional rations or cash to cover transportation costs.

Full study:

(** B P)

How Yemen’s Old Order Snuffed Out the Country’s Hopes for a New Dawn

Ten years ago, inspired by revolts in Egypt and Tunisia, Yemenis challenged an authoritarian ruler and dared to dream of a new future for their country. But a backlash by Yemen’s old guard and interference by foreign powers crushed those hopes and plunged the country into war.

Ten years later, Yemen is reaching the end of its sixth year of civil war. That conflict has been significantly worsened by an international intervention from the Saudi-led coalition, as it is officially known — a coalition composed of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, fielding troops from Sudan and other countries, with diplomatic and technical support as well as military supplies from Western countries such as the United States, the United Kingdom, and France.

While the foot soldiers of this war simply want their paychecks, their leaders need to keep on the right side of the coalition powers who finance them. Even so, a number of states like Pakistan and Egypt, whose participation the Saudi leadership had taken for granted, failed to deliver. The international intervention has made the political and humanitarian crisis far worse than it already was, but at root, this is a civil war involving numerous rival Yemeni factions.

What went wrong? Could the enthusiastic revolutionaries of early 2011 have succeeded? Why did Saleh remain a powerful figure until his Houthi allies assassinated him in December 2017? Why did the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) intervene in 2011? Could civil war have been avoided? Can any of the ambitions of the 2011 movement now re-emerge beyond the period of war?

Yemen and the Arab Uprisings

Much is being published about the Arab Spring to coincide with its tenth anniversary. Although the movements in all the countries shared certain characteristics, each one also possessed its own national specificities — social, political, and economic. They were all determined to rid themselves of corrupt, superannuated, autocratic leaders, who had enriched themselves at the expense of the population. They also wanted an end to the systems those leaders administered through cronyism, kleptocracy, the stifling of free speech, and recipes of economic neoliberalism that impoverished the majority.

On the constructive side of things, the revolutionaries all sought new political institutions that would be more equitable and more responsive to the needs of ordinary people, with greater respect for human rights. For the most part, they also called for a “national economy” and better social services.

Sit-ins and demonstrations had started in the Yemeni capital of Sana’a many months before the trigger events in Tunisia and Egypt. However, the successful ousting of the rulers in those countries proved to be a great boost to the Yemeni movement, expanding its scope and levels of participation. After decades of stasis, the fact that people had removed their leaders elsewhere gave hope to millions that change was possible.

Turning Point

The events of March 18 fundamentally altered the dominance of independent political thinkers expressing a range of demands. Although there had been clashes in previous weeks between the revolutionaries and Saleh’s forces, including groups of thugs employed as provocateurs, the movement had ensured that its “peaceful” slogan was respected — by its own side, at any rate. But there were hospitals and medical posts in the square ready to deal with injuries.

That Friday, Saleh’s snipers settled on the roof of a nearby building and shot at the crowd after prayers. They killed fifty-two demonstrators and wounded hundreds more. The day became known as the “Friday of dignity.”

March 18 was a crucial turning point that transformed the movement and the whole political situation. In its immediate aftermath, the party-political opposition — known as the Joint Meeting Parties (JMP) and led by the Islamist/tribal Islah party — formally joined the revolution. Ali Mohsen al Ahmar, who had been the senior military commander in Saleh’s war against the Huthi movement, deserted the president, and now expressed his determination to “protect” the revolution with his powerful First Armored Brigade.

Secondly, the split in the government led to the intensification of military clashes between forces loyal to Saleh and those opposed to his continued rule. Leading Yemeni politicians got involved in seeking a way out of the crisis through some form of compromise, given the effective stalemate between Saleh supporters and the broad opposition.

Thirdly, the international community became actively engaged, through the mediation of the ambassadors representing the “Friends of Yemen,” a group set up a year earlier. A Gulf Cooperation Council initiative formalized this intervention, which led to the GCC Agreement that Saleh signed in November 2011, agreeing to relinquish the presidency by February 2012. The primary aim of international involvement was to remove Saleh from power without disrupting the neoliberal regional order or encouraging others in an Arabian Peninsula dominated by hereditary rulers to seek democratic change.

Abortive Transition

Along with his control of the military/security apparatus, Saleh enjoyed a surprising residual popularity that was rooted in widespread popular perceptions of him as a nationalist leader who had achieved Yemeni unity. Many people had also appreciated the material support that his patronage system provided in various places, whether this took the form of roads, schools, or other projects. Saleh’s military and political strength prevented his removal from the political scene.

The GCC Agreement demonstrated the extent of Saleh’s remaining influence. Not only did he remain head of the GPC, the pact also formally guaranteed his immunity from prosecution, to the fury of many thousands of demonstrators. The GPC received half the ministries in the government of national unity established for the two-year transitional period imposed by the agreement. The opposition took the rest. This included the formal JMP and the new forces emerging from the street revolutions: women, youth, and civil society.

The transitional government allowed Saleh’s ministers to continue using the institutions they controlled to consolidate their support. The Islah party dominated the other half of the coalition and did just the same, while the minor parties (Socialist, Baath) and the new revolutionary forces had little influence. As a result, the government was both ineffective and corrupt.

During this two-year period, there was a National Dialogue Conference (NDC) that was supposed to represent the whole population, giving voice to the new forces in particular. In practice, however, the traditional ruling elite dominated this space as well. The people at large and the majority of revolutionaries had vacated the squares. They continued to debate, and some took part in the NDC, but most felt that the course of events constituted a betrayal of the revolution, as they saw no improvements in their lives.

Living conditions for ordinary Yemenis continued to deteriorate

While the transition was unfolding, as Saleh’s influence waned, he began to cooperate with his previous arch-enemies, the Huthi movement (also known as Ansar Allah), in opposition to the transitional regime. Away from the cities, the Huthi movement widened its area of influence and power. In the far south, separatist tendencies grew stronger, while frustration was increasing everywhere in Yemen.

Outbreak of War

By mid-2014, when the Huthi-Saleh partnership encouraged uprisings against the removal of fuel subsidies, they had the support of thousands who should have demonstrated against that alliance. The government had lost any credibility as an administration representing a shift away from cronyism and corruption. This allowed the Huthi movement to bloodlessly take over the capital in September, and soon thereafter to control about a third of the country’s land. The civil war started in early 2015.

Throughout the war, the different Yemeni factions have been responsible for almost all ground fighting, but the intervention of the Saudi-led coalition has received the greatest international attention – by Helen Lackner

(** B K P)

Can European arms companies be held liable for war crimes in Yemen?

An investigation into the involvement of Italian-made weapons in a deadly Saudi-led coalition airstrike raises the possibility of greater accountability for corporate actors in Yemen's war.

The UN, civil society and media have amassed an ever-growing body of evidence of serious breaches of international human rights and humanitarian law committed by all parties to the conflict.

But the strike was rare in one sense. Remnants of the bombs were found at the scene and, on a suspension lug, a serial number revealed their origin: a factory on the Italian island of Sardinia operated by RWM Italia, a subsidiary of German arms manufacturer Rheinmetall.

Just as unusual was the paper trail accompanying the fragments. In an industry notorious for its opacity, the MK80 series bombs could be traced to one of several licenses issued to RWM for export to Saudi Arabia after the conflict had begun, and, importantly, after grave abuses by coalition forces had been widely reported.

If confirmed by a court, the transfer would violate both domestic and international laws which bar arms sales where there is known risk they could be used to facilitate war crimes.

Armed with this evidence, in April 2018, NGOs - the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR), Rete Italiana Pace e Disarmo and Mwatana - filed a criminal complaint with the public prosecutor in Rome calling for investigations into alleged abuses of power by Italian licensing authorities and complicity in murder by both authorities and RWM managers.

The case raises a question rarely tested in courts: can arms companies be liable for crimes committed in war, regardless of whether they received state export authorisation?

Following an initial dismissal by the prosecutor in 2019, last month a judge ordered the investigation to continue, expanding its scope to include an examination of all licensing decisions since March 2015. Although only the beginning, the ruling is significant.

Attempts to prosecute corporate actors for crimes during war can be traced back to the Nuremburg trials, in which several major industrialists, including suppliers of poisonous gas to the Nazi regime, were tried for war crimes.

Prosecution is complicated by an evolving debate surrounding the nature of "intent" required to establish complicity. Under a restrictive interpretation of international criminal law and some national legislations, the accused not only must knowingly contribute to the commission of a crime, but also intend for that crime to occur.

"That is obviously a requirement that is not adapted to the reality of how business actors contribute to crimes," said Lavite, who is also involved in a case against cement giant Lafarge for activities in Syria.

Drawing on legal precedent, ECCHR and others argue that knowledge of the crime and consciousness that one's actions are contributing to it are sufficient intent. Moreover, while most cases have focused on individual businesspersons violating arms embargos, experts argue executives of multinational corporations should not be immune to liability just because their deals have state approval.

Global standards on business and human rights oblige companies to conduct due diligence to identify, prevent and address the human rights impacts of their products and services. "Just because they can export, doesn't mean they are released from their responsibilities," explained Lavite, "it doesn't mean they must export."

A 2019 report by Amnesty International found that major arms exporters did not conduct adequate due diligence, instead restricting their reviews to supply chain issues and internal labour practices. Even in France where a 2017 law mandates corporate due diligence, compliance has been superficial.

"The plans companies have presented…don't actually mention anything about the one area of their business which is extremely high risk: i.e. transferring weapons into conflict zones and into countries experiencing political upheaval," said Patrick Wilcken, an arms control specialist with Amnesty.

The complex system of production, which sees parts and stages of assembly split between numerous companies in various countries, makes conducting due diligence - and demanding accountability when it fails - especially difficult.

Moreover, the tendency to view arms transfers as a matter of foreign policy means information on how decisions are made and agreement specifics are often hidden from the public, parliaments, and in some cases, even from judges.

"No one really knows in detail about the licenses or, on the corporate side, the terms of the contracts that have been signed," explained Wilcken. This not only blocks oversight, but stymies efforts to build legal cases, effectively buffering officials against legal accountability.

Pursuing arms companies became one way they could fight for justice, even if not against the direct perpetrators of the attacks. To meet the high threshold of criminal law, they must find clear evidence a particular company's products were used in a specific crime, not an easy task in the Yemen context. "It's very, very rare that we find remnants," said Gamal. Often local residents or authorities remove the fragments before investigators arrive, and blasts can be so huge that pieces are widely scattered. Those that are found, often cannot be identified.

The RWM Italia case fits into a broader European movement to end arms exports to Saudi Arabia and the UAE and investigate corporate crimes in Yemen – by Tara Brian

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More Moderate Than Thou: How the U.S. and Arab States Manipulate Religious Authority to Maintain their Power

After 9/11, Muslims around the world watched warily as the U.S. launched the “Global War on Terror” abroad and passed the Patriot Act at home, with its consequent surveillance of the American Muslim community. The fact that the U.S. military response started with the invasion of Afghanistan but then pivoted to Iraq, a country that had nothing to do with the 9/11 attacks, made it clear that the U.S. juggernaut might take aim at any Muslim-majority country and that the American public would do little prevent it.

The use of “democracy promotion” as a justification for the occupation of Iraq was particularly troubling for the many non-democratic rulers dominating the Middle East. Bush’s notion that Iraq would be the first domino to fall in a chain reaction of democratic transitions made these rulers nervous.[i] Rulers were well aware of public dissatisfaction with the rampant corruption and lack of opportunities for economic or political engagement that characterized life for the majority of their citizens. The Bush administration had correctly identified democracy and good governance as important ingredients in efforts to prevent violent extremism. Arab rulers were eager to deflect attention from the ways in which their reliance on repression fostered disaffection and sometimes violence. For this reason, “radical Islam” became a useful scapegoat that reduced the risk that the U.S. might pressure rulers to democratize or address other systemic failures.

Characterizing Islam as the primary driver of violence, specifically the “wrong” interpretation of Islam, served a second purpose: rulers could paint Islamist political opposition groups as driving violent extremism. As a result, crackdowns on Islamist groups could be characterized as “countering terrorism.” Simultaneously, rulers could portray their own preferred interpretation of Islam, or “moderate Islam,” as preventing violence, thereby garnering international support for their continued rule. Arab rulers portrayed themselves as the only alternative to Islamists, knowing that most non-Muslim publics lacked the nuance or inclination to discern between an “Islamist” and a “terrorist.” (To clarify, in my usage, the term “Islamist” refers to an individual or organization that advocates for a greater role for Islam in public life.)

Despite an initial focus on democracy promotion, the Bush administration did little to combat the role of Islamophobia in linking terrorism with Islam and Islamist movements. As early as January 2003, American commentators acknowledged that democracy promotion might empower “anti-American elements,” by which they meant Islamist groups.

The narrative that terrorism resulted from misinterpretations of Islam, rather than the structural factors that drove some individuals to violence, benefitted American administrations as well as ruling Arab governments, as it allowed them to maintain their mutually beneficial relationships. In 2007, the RAND corporation suggested the need to “build moderate Muslim networks.”

Arab governments encouraged “moderate Islam,” whose lack of a clear definition allowed it to be repurposed in multiple forms.

The use of “moderate Islam” as a public relations strategy became more prominent after 9/11, while the uprisings of 2011 reinforced the perceived threat posed by Islamists. As a result, the definition of “moderate” shifted: for example, the Muslim Brotherhood had previously been considered “moderate” because they repudiated violence, yet after 2011 many governments feared their manifest ability to win power, as demonstrated in Tunisia and Egypt, and designated them a terrorist organization.[x] Meanwhile, more governments began to adopt the language of moderate Islam as an alleged means of preventing violent extremism, including Egypt, Morocco, the UAE, and eventually even Saudi Arabia.[xi]

As violence escalated in the aftermath of the uprisings, some governments escalated the rhetoric that they represented the only alternative to terrorists.

The increasing competition to speak for moderate Islam in the region resulted in part from a rise in U.S. demand for interlocutors: 2009 witnessed the emergence of “a veritable cottage industry of Muslim engagement activities in U.S. foreign policy.”[xiv]

Yet, such efforts sometimes had unintended effects. For example, they tended to reify the authority of formal religious institutions and actors. This reinforced the power of individuals who typically represented codified religious doctrine—who tended to be older and overwhelmingly male—rather than the individuals pushing the boundaries of religious belief, who were more likely to include people who were younger, potentially female, and more marginalized.

The pitfalls of this approach became apparent in Obama’s second term, after the turbulence of the Arab uprisings in 2011 eventually resulted in the rise of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) in 2014. The group claimed to represent the reincarnation of the Prophet Mohamed’s caliphate in its adherence to the most “authentic” interpretation of Islamic law, a notion of authenticity grounded in decades of Saudi propaganda that intolerance corresponded to the most orthodox form of Islam. The group’s declarations to have established a true Islamic state appealed to many, especially the young and marginalized, and thousands traveled to join them. The sometimes geriatric members of the formal religious establishment had few tools to compete with a social media savvy group of young and savage zealots.

Under Trump, the pendulum of American policy swung dramatically in the direction of officially sanctioned Islamophobia with policies like the “Muslim Ban.”

Thus far, the new Biden administration does not appear to possess the same appetite for outreach to the Muslim community, which may in fact be preferable to the sometimes unintended consequences of Obama-era policies. But in general, the U.S. continues to arm despotic governments while largely ignoring their abuses of their own citizens, content with the fiction that stable autocracy is preferable to the chaos witnessed in the aftermath of 2011. The U.S. retains its status as military hegemon in the region, despite numerous assertions that the U.S. ought “to pivot to Asia” in order to focus on China.

Since 9/11, the decision to blame acts of political violence committed by Muslims on their faith, specifically on an alleged misinterpretation of Islam that could be corrected by a “moderate” interpretation of Islam, has had the effect of reinforcing the appearance that the War on Terror was in fact a war on Islam, which has exacerbated the threat of violent extremism committed by Muslims. Twenty years after 9/11, insufficient efforts have been made to educate Americans about Islam, such that efforts to link violence with Islam would appear as preposterous as to claim such a link with Christianity.

Rulers continue to benefit from international fears of Islam, use it to repress Islamist groups, and face minimal external censure for doing so. If they targeted another category of dissidents in a similar manner, they would likely arouse more concerns about human rights violations. However, as the U.S. continues to demonstrate with the ongoing presence of detainees in Guantanamo Bay, individuals classified as “terrorists” do not merit the same legal and moral protections as other individuals – by Annelle Sheline

cp1a Am wichtigsten: Coronavirus und Seuchen / Most important: Coronavirus and epidemics

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89 new cases of coronavirus reported, 3,126 in total

The supreme national emergency committee for coronavirus reported on Thursday, 89 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the governorates of Hadramout (36), Aden (29), Taiz (11), al-Mahra (5), Marib (4), Lahj (3) and Shabwa (1).
The committee also reported in its statement the death of 10 coronavirus patients; Taiz (5), Hadramout (3) and Aden (2), in addition to the recovery of 12 patients in Hadramout (6) and Aden (6).
According to the daily counts over the past hours, the total number of confirmed cases of coronavirus has reached 3,126, including 723 deaths and 1,520 recoveries.
Yesterday, 68 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 reported in six governorates. Yemen's first confirmed case of coronavirus was announced on 10 April 2020.

and also

(* A H)

68 new cases of COVID-19 reported, 3,037 in total

The committee also reported in its statement the death of 6 coronavirus patients and the recovery of 1 patient in Shabwa.

(B H)

Development of number of Coronavirus cases: Yemen

In Yemen there have been 3037 confirmed cases of COVID-19. Of those, currently 816 are still sick. That is one in every 36000 inhabitants.

cp2 Allgemein / General

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Interactive Map of Yemen War

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Yemen War Maps Daily Updates

March 18:

March 17:

March 16:

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Brief von Ansarullah-Führer führte zum Rückzug der VAE aus saudisch geführter Koalition

Ein Mitglied der jemenitischen Ansarullah-Bewegung berichtete über einen Brief des Führers der Bewegung, Abdul Malik al-Houthi, an die Vereinigten Arabischen Emirate, VAE. Es heißt, der Brief habe Jemens Angriffe auf die VAE gestoppt.

Mohammad Ali al-Houthi, ein Mitglied des Obersten Politischen Rates der Ansarullah-Bewegung, schrieb auf seiner Twitter-Seite über den Grund für die Einstellung der jemenitischen Angriffe auf die VAE: "In einem Brief an die VAE riet Seyyed Abdul Malik al-Houthi den Emiraten, ihre Angriffe auf den Jemen zu beenden, woraufhin die VAE offiziell ihren Rückzug aus der von Saudi-Arabien geführten arabischen Koalition ankündigten." Er fügte hinzu, dass der Jemen daraufhin auch die Vergeltungs-Angriffe auf die Vereinigten Arabischen Emirate eingestellt habe.

Das Mitglied des Obersten Politischen Rates im Jemen betonte, dass wenn Saudi-Arabien ebenso wie die VAE aufhören werde, den Jemen anzugreifen, werde man die Vergeltungsschläge auf Saudi-Arabien ebenfalls einstellen.

Mein Kommentar: Echt jetzt?

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Joint Statement of the Governments of France, Germany, Italy, the United Kingdom, and the United States of America on Houthi Attacks

We, the governments of France, Germany, Italy, the United Kingdom, and the United States of America, condemn the sustained Houthi offensive on the Yemeni city of Ma’rib and the major escalation of attacks the Houthis have conducted and claimed against Saudi Arabia. Their determined attack on Ma’rib is worsening an already dire humanitarian crisis.

Our renewed diplomatic efforts to end the Yemen conflict, in support of the UN Special Envoy, with the support of Saudi Arabia, Oman, and the international community, offer the best hope for ending this war. We urge the Houthis to seize this opportunity for peace and end the ongoing escalation.

We reiterate our firm commitment to the security and integrity of Saudi territory, and to restoring stability and calm along the Saudi/Yemeni border. We reaffirm our strong support for a swift resolution of the Yemeni conflict, which will bring much-needed stability to the region and immediate benefit to the people of Yemen.

My comment: Western governments claim tu support peace, but demask themselves as parties in the conflict.

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Angriff auf den letzten Zufluchtsort

Die Provinz Marib im Norden des Jemens blieb vom Krieg bisher ausgespart. Nun rücken die Huthi-Rebellen vor, Hunderte flüchten. Es könnte die entscheidende Schlacht sein.

Nur die Stadt und gleichnamige Provinz Marib wird im Nordosten noch von Verbündeten der Regierung gehalten. Dort droht nun eine der entscheidenden Schlachten des Krieges.

Die Kämpfe waren in den vergangenen Tagen laut Augenzeugen zwar weniger intensiv, doch vorbei sind sie nicht. "Die Huthis dachten, sie könnten Marib schnell einnehmen", sagt al-Sakani. "Deshalb haben sie gleich alle Mittel eingesetzt, die ihnen zur Verfügung stehen." Die Huthis greifen Marib mit Drohnen und Raketen von mehreren Fronten aus an. Dafür haben sie einige ihrer Kämpfer aus anderen Regionen abgezogen, etwa aus der Region Taiz, wo sie ebenfalls um die Kontrolle kämpfen. Die Regierungstruppen versuchen, die Huthis zurückzuschlagen. "Es sind die brutalsten Kämpfe seit Kriegsbeginn", sagt al-Sakani. Sie könnten eine Wende bedeuten.

Sollten die Regierungstruppen den Kampf um Marib verlieren, wäre das ein schwerer Rückschlag für Präsident Hadi. Wenn die Huthis die Provinz einnähmen, würden sie auch einen Großteil der Öl- und Gasproduktion kontrollieren – was ihnen in dem völlig verarmten Land eine starke Machtposition verschaffen würde. Dann, so sagen viele Experten, hätten die Huthis den Krieg wohl für sich entschieden.

Die intensiven Kämpfe verschärfen die ohnehin katastrophalen Lebensbedingungen der Zivilisten.

Auch in Marib kämpfen Helfer und Behörden darum, die vielen zusätzlichen Bedürftigen zu unterstützen. In der Provinz sind die meisten Binnenvertriebenen untergekommen. Vor dem Krieg lebten in Marib rund 400.000 Menschen, heute sind es laut offiziellen Angaben etwa 2,7 Millionen. Die meisten sind vor den Angriffen durch Ansar Allah (Unterstützer Gottes) geflohen, wie die Huthi-Bewegung offiziell heißt, und leben nun in den 134 Lagern, die rund um Marib-Stadt errichtet wurden.

Die Infrastruktur ist mit dem rasanten Bevölkerungswachstum nicht mitgewachsen. Vor allem in den Lagern gibt es kaum sanitäre Einrichtungen und fließendes Wasser.

"Viele Menschen haben in den Kriegsjahren ihre gesamten Einkommensquellen verloren und sind nun abhängig von Hilfslieferungen", sagt Ballerstedt.

Corona, die näher rückende Front, die fehlende Aussicht auf Frieden: Das alles belaste viele Jemeniten und Jemenitinnen auch psychisch enorm. "Viele wissen einfach nicht mehr, wohin."

Im Jemen gibt es kaum noch einen Ort, an dem die Menschen sicher wären.

Für den Journalisten Ali al-Sakani in Marib ist klar, was nun passieren muss. Die Regierung müsse in diesem Kampf die Oberhand behalten, sagt er. Sie müsse die Huthis schwächen und zurückdrängen. "Sonst geht der Krieg immer weiter." – von Andrea Backhaus

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One war, many battles: The struggle over Yemen's Marib

At a local level, the escalation is caused by increased Houthi military operations, intimidation strategies and other war-mongering efforts targeting the Marib province, particularly since the beginning of February 2021.

The second regional reason is the successive Houthi attacks against Saudi territories, oil facilities and residential areas as well as the gradual consolidation of strategic relations between the Houthis and the Iranian regime.

Within this context, the battle for Marib strongly pertains to the Houthis’ military and political strategy in Yemen. But on the other hand, the incursions into Saudi soil and the increasingly intertwined alignment between the Houthis and the Iranian regime are shaped by regional and international political conjuncture as well.

After 2016, the Houthis were expelled from Aden and by 2017 the STC had been formed and began to gain political and military ground in Aden with extensive UAE support, making the legitimate government inoperable and vulnerable in the new capital.

Thus, although not all state institutions were officially relocated, the Marib province emerged as one of the most important strongholds of the legitimate government.

The prominence of Marib province is due to geo-economic and geopolitical reasons. The city of Marib, from a geo-economic point of view, could be referred to as the center of oil and natural gas resources in Yemen.

The Houthis view the city of Marib as a source of economic income due to its natural resources.

After 2015, Marib, which was to a degree isolated from the destructive implications of the war compared to the northern, western and southern provinces in Yemen, became a region to which internally displaced persons (IDPs) flocked.

It is said that the large tribes living in Marib have close relations with Saudi Arabia and the UAE. From the 1980s onward, the UAE leaders carried out socioeconomic projects worth millions of dollars in Marib, including the Marib dam, and established close ties with Marib tribes and leading tribesmen.

Similar to the UAE, Saudi Arabia also allowed Marib tribesmen to work in the kingdom and many students who originated from Marib are studying and working in Saudi Arabia.

However, there are also religious identities in Marib, such as the Shafi'i and Zaidi tribes, which is a testament to the richness of tribes and identities in Yemen.

In this respect, certain tribes and tribesmen, especially those belonging to the Zaidi tribe, are said to feel an ideological and political affiliation – albeit at a low rate – with the Houthis.

The outcome of the war in Yemen could be drastically altered if the Houthis are to seize Marib. But for the legitimate government of Yemen and its supporters, protecting Marib seems to be tantamount to survival.

In this light, Saudi-led coalition officials and the local Marib authorities have been cooperating, and efforts are being made to strengthen Marib’s local capacity to ward off the Houthis.

The Houthis were able to exploit the regions' they captured military weaknesses due to the legitimate government and Saudi-led coalition's inability to strengthen local capacities.

Therefore, a strategic mistake or unwillingness to strengthen a region's ability to defend itself could cost the Saudi-led coalition and the Yemeni government one of its strongholds.

Political motivations, as well as military and geopolitical concerns and implications, can shape Marib’s future – by Gökhan Ereli

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24 hours of violence in Yemen: how Biden should respond

Given Yemen's complex conflict, Biden's administration should not try to take control, but instead focus on bringing the parties to the negotiating table

All of these developments do not bode well for the Biden administration's efforts to achieve a diplomatic solution to the now six-year-old war and end the humanitarian disaster in Yemen.

It is clear that Biden will put pressure on the coalition members to come to the table and forge a diplomatic solution with the help of the US. The first steps will be to "impose a ceasefire, open humanitarian channels, and restore long-dormant peace talks," something the UN has been trying to do for six painstaking years.

Many in the Hadi unity government in Yemen likely see Biden's moves to end US support for the war as a bad omen for their political efforts and dealings with the Houthis.

They supported Saudi Arabia's efforts to get Houthis designated as a terrorist group to deprive them of the resources needed to sustain their insurgency and maintain territorial control. But the suspension of US arms sales and other support to the Saudi campaign makes it clear that Hadi and his regional backers cannot achieve a military solution to the war.

The Houthi leadership also understands the implication, which may be why they have escalated attacks on strategic fronts, notably the city of Marib

It is unlikely that the Houthis will cease their offensive because the more territory, population, and resources under their control, the stronger position they will have in negotiations to end the war.

Some observers believe that Biden should be cautious and not stretch the limits of US action. This is a Yemeni civil war in the most basic sense, and Washington's efforts may only disrupt a future peace process. While Biden's actions so far have put pressure on the Saudi-backed coalition to come to the table, they have only strengthened the Iran-backed Houthis over whom Biden may enjoy more limited leverage.
Moreover, the Houthis have not demonstrated commitment to cease-fires thus far in the six year war, and claim a divine right to rule which flies in the face of democratic principles.

There are diplomats working on Yemen and Middle East issues who consider that parallel diplomatic efforts between the United States and Iran and Yemeni diplomacy may have a complementary effect.

Outside of diplomatic arrangements, Biden could take a more combative approach around the recent Houthi attacks by pursuing more aggressive naval interdiction of Iranian weapons shipments to Yemen, as the United States has in the past. Effectively blocking arms shipments to the Houthis could increase security in Saudi Arabia and put pressure on the Houthis to consider a ceasefire.

Whatever policies the Biden administration's new foreign policy team adopts in addressing US relations with Saudi Arabia and its participation in the Yemen war, it is vital that they do not oversimplify the multi-layered and multi-partied conflicts at hand.

While a quick diplomatic solution between the two sides seems appealing, it would leave important voices out of negotiations and likely lead to more conflict. Biden should not try to take control of the situation but instead focus on bringing the parties to the table for talks mediated by the UN.
In the meantime, Washington should continue to hold Saudi Arabia accountable for its part in civilian deaths and the humanitarian disaster. It can and should take action to reach a cease-fire and alleviate the dystopian conditions of food and water insecurity, famine, widespread disease outbreaks, and the destruction of healthcare and transportation infrastructure.
Lastly, it should work with the international community and UN to work towards stabilising the Yemeni currency, supporting local governance, and defending human rights.

My comment: Biden certainly should not “take a more combative approach around the recent Houthi attacks by pursuing more aggressive naval interdiction of Iranian weapons shipments to Yemen”, as this naval blockade is the main driver of Yemen’s famine crisis. There only is one other way: Connect a lifting of the blockade to an end of the Marib offensive: .

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‘Shall I Take You Back to War? You Know Exactly What War Means.’

Yemen was historically called Arabia Felix (Happy Arabia). Today the United Nations calls it the worst humanitarian crisis in the world.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Radhya Almutawakel is the 2020 recipient of the Anna Politkovskaya Award for women human rights defenders from war and conflict, which is presented by RAW in WAR (Reach All Women in War). This is her letter to Anna Politkovskaya, published on the day Almutawakel received an award named in Politkovskaya’s honor at “Refusing to be Silenced,” part of the Women of the World UK Festival 2021.

Today, Yemen has become a country entirely controlled by armed groups and besieged by Arab countries, supported by Western countries. The very worst human rights violations are being committed against its people, one of which is starvation, used as a weapon of war.

Nevertheless, none of this happened suddenly. The war had many beginnings but there were two catastrophic turning points. The first was in September 2014, when an armed group, called the Houthis, took control of the capital, Sana’a, besieging the government and expanding towards other governorates. The second was in March 2015, when a military intervention by several countries, led by Saudi Arabia and the UAE, took place at the request of the Yemeni government.

We, just like you, believe in the importance of truth in confronting war, so one of the most important things we do in Mwatana is documenting the violations of all parties to the conflict in Yemen. We consider information to be power, and that it is the first basis for any intervention which follows.

Mwatana also works in the field of advocacy at the international level, to expose the violations of the warring parties in Yemen

We then began to pay attention to accountability. Accountability is the missing word in Yemen. By accountability, I mean criminal accountability. Today the parties to the conflict know they can act with impunity.

You must now be wondering how we can protect ourselves, and what are the risks to which we are exposed. In fact, no one is safe in Yemen—or, as I always say, we are all just safe by chance in this country, where anything could happen to anyone

In fact, we have no protection but our neutrality, professionalism, and our reputation, which has grown from the local level and has now reached the international level. However, none of us, of course, remains fully protected.

Despite all the complications, peace in Yemen remains very possible.

The efforts of everyone who wants to make a difference, for the benefit of the people, will not be wasted. Nor will your efforts be wasted, Anna. May your soul rest in peace – By Radhya Almutawakel

(* B P)

Don’t Import the Libyan Model to Yemen

In early February, the UN announced that 74 influential Libyan politicians and factional and tribal representatives gathered in Geneva had successfully negotiated the formation of an interim national government, which aims to hold national elections later this year. That fledgling success, coupled with the dire state of the war in Yemen – currently characterized by a Houthi offensive in Marib and a desperate humanitarian situation – may tempt some to believe a similar approach might work in Yemen.

But that would be a mistake. Yemen is not Libya, and what worked in one country will not necessarily work in another.

Divergent Conflict Histories

Save for the war in 2011 that overthrew Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi and the civil war that followed, Libya’s modern history has been relatively stable. Yemen, on the other hand, has lurched from one conflict to another.

The current conflict in Yemen stems from a number of factors, including past wars, regional and sectarian conflict, three decades of Ali Abdullah Saleh’s corrupt rule, and the failure of the transitional process after 2012.

Libya does not have a similar record of conflict; under Gadhafi, violence was largely monopolized by the state.

No Economic Incentive for Yemeni Parties to Stop Fighting

The 2019 UN Panel of Experts report noted several examples of Yemeni government corruption, particularly focusing on billionaire businessman Ahmad al-Essi’s shady dealings in the oil sector. Al-Essi is close to President Abdo Rabbu Mansour Hadi’s son Jalal. (See the Sana’a Center’s interview with Al-Essi)

Meanwhile, Houthi authorities illegally collect taxes, bringing in an estimated US$1.8 billion in 2019 while failing to pay civil servant salaries in full or provide basic services for the people living in areas under their control. The Houthis also have routinely looted humanitarian food aid, diverting it to supporters and fighters or selling it for profit.

The war also provides both the Houthi authorities and Hadi’s government with an excuse for poor governance. Yemen’s three wealthiest governorates – Marib, Shabwa and Hadramawt – are also among Yemen’s most stable, and, not surprisingly, these three governorates have developed a significant degree of political autonomy over the past six years.

Nature and Complexity of Divisions Vary

In Libya, fault lines are primarily regional, tribal and ethnic. Yemen suffers divisions that are regional and tribal as well, but also from sectarian tensions. Although tribal and regional divisions might be solved through power-sharing arrangements, sectarian divisions are less easily accommodated.

In Yemen, the Zaidi Shia Houthi movement does not recognize the current constitution and refuses to do more than pay lip service to national elections. For the Houthis, authority is a divine right bestowed upon descendents of the Prophet Mohammed, and no one else.

On the other side of the Yemeni equation is the Islah party, a Sunni group affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood. Islah believes the solution for Yemen is a federal system that would divide the country into six regions, a plan that was roundly rejected by the Houthi movement and southern factions when it was unveiled in 2014. Islah wants elections because it thinks it can win at the ballot box, given its ability to mobilize nationally and the fact it has turned out a large number of voters in past elections.

Meanwhile, many southerners, particularly the STC, envision an independent South Yemen. Other southern factions, such as the Salafist fighters associated with the Giants Brigades, are unwilling to compromise or be part of a state in which a Zaidi Shia group like the Houthis wields significant influence.

How, given these competing agendas and contradictory ideologies, can all of Yemen’s warring parties ever come together to form a functioning and unified government?

Regional Interests and the Luck of Geography

In Libya, foreign powers have intervened due to a number of different motivations, ranging from economic and geo-strategic to regional rivalries and backing preferred proxies. But in Yemen, Saudi Arabia intervened because it believes that Iranian influence in the country is an existential threat. For Iran, backing the Houthi movement is relatively low cost and low risk. With Yemen far enough from Iran’s borders to ensure any fallout from the conflict will be limited, Tehran is under little pressure to compromise.

There is no easy or obvious solution to the war in Yemen. Indeed, the UN may need to limit its ambitions. An inclusive, overarching political solution is not a necessary precursor to the cessation of conflict. Instead, a declaration of cease-fire on the current frontlines could swiftly end the fighting, with international monitors deployed to prevent violations.

These peace initiatives could be accompanied by increased international support for local governance and concerted efforts to address urgent problems, such as the potential threat posed by the abandoned FSO Safer oil tanker – which, if it were to rupture, would spark an environmental and humanitarian crisis on Yemen’s western coast.

It is also crucial to decrease the humanitarian suffering in Yemen, by, for starters, permitting the reopening of Sana’a airport and lifting the Houthi blockade of Taiz city. If the war machine could be stopped for a while, only then would space be created to deal with political issues – by Maysaa Shujaa Al Deen

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‘Businessmen are not prohibited from engaging in politics’ – A Q&A with Ahmad al-Essi

Officially, Ahmad al-Essi is a businessman who dabbles in politics – he’s the chairman of the Alessi Group as well as the deputy head of Yemen’s presidential office. Unofficially, Al-Essi may be the most powerful Yemeni alive. Certainly, he’s one of the richest.

Twice, once in 2015 and again in 2016, he provided a financial lifeline to President Abdo Rabbu Mansour Hadi – the first time just after Hadi fled Sana’a for Aden, the second after Hadi fired Prime Minister Khaled Bahah and, incensed, the Saudis had cut off Hadi credit. Al-Essi and Hadi had been close for years, dating back to the early 1990s when Hadi was Minister of Defense.

Al-Essi also leveraged his close relationship with the president and his sons to further his business empire, securing a monopoly on fuel imports into Aden. Like Jeff Bezos and Amazon, Al-Essi can supply almost everyone with almost anything. He has sold food and fuel to Saudi and Emirati troops in Yemen, helped keep the Yemeni army and government afloat, and collected a thousand and one favors along the way.

His home, an apartment in Cairo, is the fixed center of the Yemeni universe. Former prime ministers, tribal sheikhs, businessmen, members of parliament and military officers all patiently wait for their audience. Each appointment is written on a single piece of paper in Al-Essi’s own hand.

In January, Al-Essi graciously invited the Sana’a Center to his home for a candid and expansive interview that explored a wide range of topics, including: Al-Essi’s recent visit to Moscow; his Southern ‘unionist’ project; the Houthi takeover’s impact on his business empire and how this empire also props up the Yemeni government; his feud with Prime Minister Maeen Abdelmalek; how Abu Dhabi will do business with him but still wants him dead, and why he should be Yemen’s next president.

'Businessmen are not prohibited from engaging in politics' – A Q&A with Ahmad al-Essi | Sana'a Center For Strategic Studies

Al-Essi: The establishment of the STC was one of the main reasons behind the formation of the SNC [Southern National Coalition. (The SNC is a southern-based political organization Al-Essi helped found in May 2018. )], but it’s not as you said: we are not only against the STC. After liberating southern governorates [from Houthi forces in 2015], we noticed that we have gone back to the totalitarian pattern which the Socialist Party had [adopted] to govern South Yemen and which former President Ali Abdullah Saleh solidified a part of under the pretense of controlling and maintaining unity. The STC only works with one party or one power and the rest do not have an opinion. The presence of political parties, the General People’s Congress (GPC), Islah, the Nasserists and all other parties in southern governorates appeared timid and invisible, and they cannot organize any activity, like it’s some sort of surrender to the STC.

We are from among the southerners, we call ourselves the unionists, and we stand with greater Yemen. Hence, we took an initiative in this regard based on our influence and presence in the southern arena – though at the beginning they used to tell me I wasn’t a southerner – to agree with 13 political parties, including the GPC, Islah, the Baath, the Nasserists – the Nasserist organization eventually withdrew though – Al-Nahda party and components from the Southern Hirak and the Hadramawt Inclusive Conference – and these are the majority of southern components – to be a strong bloc that confronts the STC or those seeking the separation of south Yemen in general. The bloc was formed, and we were going to organize an event to declare establishing it in Egypt’s capital, Cairo.

SC: How do the Houthis get their fuel supplies, then?

Al-Essi: Through the port in the city of Hudaydah, through the merchants they created. At the beginning, Tawfiq Abdelraheem helped them but they imprisoned him because they believed he opposed them, and currently, their merchants provide the fuel.

Before the war erupted, only myself and Tawfiq Abdelraheem worked in the oil sector. Currently, however, everyone is engaged in business in sectors that are not their specialty, like [Ahmed] Al-Muqbali (the largest fuel importer to Hudayah), for example, worked in the field of automotive spare parts but then shifted to oil trade.

SC: And all this happens with the knowledge of the government and the Coalition and goes through the procedures to attain licenses?

Al-Essi: Yes, hence violating the measures they have imposed.

SC: Who imposed them?

Al-Essi: The Coalition and the United Nations. In the beginning, oil supplies to the Houthis were only permitted via the government-controlled governorates, like Aden, but in the end they could not control this because the prime minister used to issue exceptional directives every year under which oil ships were allowed in.

Then they reached the agreement to implement the system of the economic committee which stipulated paying taxes and customs to the Central Bank in Aden, but they later agreed to pay them to the Central Bank in Hudaydah.

The goods that are brought in through the United Nations Verification and Inspection Mechanism, on condition that they do not come from Iran, are sold to the Houthis as well as in government-controlled areas on condition that taxes and customs are paid to an account in the Central Bank in Hudaydah. This account covers the salaries of some government employees and the rest of the salaries are paid by the Yemeni government. The government did in fact pay the salaries of employees at the ministries of education, health, etc. The sum of the money in the account at the Central Bank [in Hudaydah] reached around 38 billion Yemeni rials. The Houthis, however, violated the procedures that allowed them to bring in fuel so the Coalition prevented any ship carrying oil from entering the port of Hudaydah (leading to the June 2019 fuel crisis).

SC: I have a question. If I ask you to rank them, who are your enemies? The UAE, the Houthis, Maeen or the STC?

Al-Essi: Honestly, I do not think Maeen deserves to be described as an enemy but…

SC: The rest?

Al-Essi: The Emiratis insist on killing me.

SC: More dangerous than the Houthis?

Al-Essi: No, the Houthis are certainly more dangerous, but there’s nothing personal toward me. The Houthis’ problem is with the entire country, and I am part of the national component. The UAE is targeting me personally while the Houthis are in a defined position. We all acknowledge that the Houthis are an enemy who stole our property and prevented us from entering our country. There is no need to talk about this.

Regarding my relation with the UAE, the Houthis and Maeen Abdelmalek. When talking about the Houthis, I noted that they work for certain interests and business purposes. As for Maeen, he represents the government and he’s not supposed to be handling matters by making accusations through media outlets. =

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Yemeni rebel offensive threatens camps of those who fled war

Already displaced once in Yemen’s grinding civil war, Mohammed Ali Saleh fled with his pregnant wife and their three children to central Marib province last year to seek refuge in a region that has known some relative peace and stability because of well-protected oil fields nearby.

But now the fighting is moving toward them again.

Iran-backed Houthi rebels are pushing to capture the province from the internationally recognized government to try to complete their control over the northern half of Yemen. If they succeed, the Houthis could claim a strategic win after a largely stalemated battle in almost seven years of fighting.

The sounds of war terrify Saleh and his family.

The Houthi push in Marib also threatens to ignite more fighting elsewhere in Yemen. Government-allied forces, aided by a Saudi-led coalition, have ramped up attacks in other areas recently in an apparent attempt to force the Houthis to spread out their resources and make them more vulnerable.

The Marib offensive “is a fateful battle for the Houthis,” said political analyst Abdel-Bari Taher. “It will determine the future of their ability to rule” in northern Yemen.

The fighting in Marib could displace at least 385,000 people, according to the U.N. migration agency. Four displacement camps in the province have been abandoned since the start of the offensive, said Olivia Headon of the International Organization for Migration in Yemen.

The latest offensive has been among the fiercest, with the Houthis moving heavy weapons toward Marib. They have yet to achieve major progress amid stiff resistance from local tribes and government forces aided by airstrikes from the coalition.

But the fighting is coming close to civilians and the displacement camps. Houthi forces have hit the provincial capital, also called Marib, and its outskirts with ballistic missiles, explosives-laden drones and shelling, according to aid workers.

Sheikh Sultan al-Aradah, the provincial governor, told reporters that the coalition’s airstrikes helped fend off the Houthis. “Without their support, the situation would be very different,” he said.

Hundreds of fighters, most of them Houthi rebels, have been killed in the Marib campaign, according to officials from both sides.

“There are probably multiple agendas at play in Marib but the most urgent is the Houthis’ belief they can take Marib city and end the war for the north, while improving their economic sustainability and their bargaining position with Saudi Arabia,” said Peter Salisbury, Yemen expert at the International Crisis Group.

But their offensive could be backfiring.

Government-backed forces managed to retake swaths of territory from the Houthis in Hajjah and Taiz provinces. The battle for Marib also could be used as a justification for Hadi’s government to back out of previous partial cease-fires, such as the 2018 U.N.-brokered deal that ended fighting for the key Houthi-controlled port of Hodeida, which handles about 70% of Yemen’s commercial and humanitarian imports.

The escalation has left international observers at a loss on how to find a starting point for a long-sought peace.

Meanwhile, displaced families in Marib live in fear of what comes next.

and also

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Letters to the Editor: Diplomacy needed to avert disaster in Yemen

US President Biden’s efforts since his inauguration are welcome but if he is serious about stopping this war then more decisive action is needed. The Saudi blockade must be lifted. All arms sales to Saudi Arabia and the UAE should be suspended. A vast humanitarian aid relief effort should be accompanied by a ceasefire and a plan to hold peace talks.

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Yemen 2021: Islah, the Houthis & Jihadis

Islamism has influenced politics in Yemen since 1962, when a military coup ended a millennium of dynastic rule. The then-new Yemeni republic encouraged a moderate Islamist ideology to create distance from the strict adherence to Zaydi Islam practiced by the deposed monarchy.

Since the Arab Spring uprising in 2011, the unraveling of the Yemeni state has allowed Islamist groups that were previously on the fringes of Yemeni political and social life to reassert themselves in local and national governance. In early 2021, Yemeni Islamists fell into three categories:

Political Islamists, such as the Islah party, many of whom went into exile with the Yemeni government in 2014,

Zaydi Islamists, notably including the Houthis and other northern tribal families, who ousted the government in 2015,

And militant Islamists—including al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula and Ansar al Sharia—who sought to impose to their strict interpretation of Sunni Islam through violence.

Yemen’s principal Islamist political party, known as al Islah, or the Yemeni Congregation for Reform, was founded in 1990. It was closely associated with the Muslim Brotherhood. As of early 2021, it remained an important political player in Yemen’s government-in-exile, which has been based in Riyadh since 2015. Major General Ali Muhsin al Ahmar, the vice president-in-exile, has long been associated with Islah, even though he declared membership in the General People’s Congress, the party of Mansur Hadi, the president now in exile. Members of Islah have not, however, uniformly supported the Yemeni state or Ali Muhsin (as he’s popularly known). Not all members of Islah went into exile. Those who remained in Yemen have adapted to the tumultuous political and military situation. One Islah leader, Sheikh Mohammed Ali al Khuzaie even joined the Houthi movement in 2020.

But political allegiances in Yemen have long been fluid. An Islamist one day may become a socialist the next with the right political or economic incentives. Islamist groups have exploited Yemen’s political fragmentation; some opportunists have joined the secessionist movement in the south, while others have charted independent political paths. Without a central government capable of unifying the country,

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Film: War in Yemen back in full force

The situation in Yemen is worrying. Yemeni protesters stormed the residential Palace when cabinet members were inside. The UN's top envoy in Yemen says the war 'is back in full force'. WION's Palki Sharma tells you more.

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The Fight for Marib Threatens Millions of Lives in Yemen

Today, one of the most alarming, and under-appreciated, humanitarian issues in Yemen is the escalation of conflict in the governorate of Marib. As the fighting intensifies and moves closer to Marib city, hundreds of thousands of lives are potentially in danger.

Despite being left behind in the country’s development plans, Marib city has become a boom town in recent years. This is partly because, since the start of the current war in Yemen in late 2014, Marib has largely been spared from conflict, sheltered in the eye of a fierce storm of fighting raging all around it.

Now, Marib could become the site of Yemen’s most profound humanitarian calamity if the parties to Yemen’s war do not immediately agree to and observe a ceasefire. However difficult life has been for IDPs in Marib, more serious risks are now on their doorstep as the Houthis renew their military campaign to capture the governorate. Marib would be a strategic prize for the Houthis.

Civilians, and particularly IDPs, will pay a heavy price for fighting in Marib. Last year, when the frontlines were farther from the city, residents were subject to indiscriminate rocket and missile attacks.

Most IDPs in Marib hail from northern governorates and fear retribution and harsh treatment if the Houthis manage to take control of the area. Many have been forced to flee several times before finding safety in Marib and do not have the resources to move again but are likely to try anyway.

While it is unclear what it will take to stop their offensive in Marib, it is clear that the Houthis are attentive to global perceptions of the conflict. These perceptions have been largely shaped by citizens and legislators outside of Yemen who have rightly opposed their own governments’ unconditional support for and arms sales to the Gulf powers fighting in the war.

Congress and the American […] must not divert their attention from the deadly role other parties to the conflict are also playing – especially as a disaster of colossal proportions, not of Saudi Arabia’s making, unfolds before our eyes.

Right now, the United States and the international community must urgently exert pressure and practice deft diplomacy to end the fighting in Marib to avert catastrophe in the coming days and finally put Yemen on a path toward peace and recovery – by Scott Paul, Oxfam

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Saving the Yemen Peace Process by Blunting the Houthi Push for Marib

Losing Marib would discredit and debilitate the multilateral peace effort, so the United States should facilitate more energetic Saudi and Emirati support to the city’s defense.

If the city and its adjacent energy facilities fall, both Yemen’s fragile government and the U.S.-UN peace process will be in grave danger of disintegrating completely. This imminent risk necessitates robust steps to prevent a Houthi victory at Marib, which would essentially decide the war in their favor and reward their repeated breaches of UN de-escalation arrangements.

Why Marib Matters

Energy resources.

Alternative seat of government. The Houthis evicted President Abdu Rabu Mansour Hadi’s government from Sanaa when they seized the capital in 2015, and loyalist officials have only a tenuous presence in Yemen’s second-largest city, Aden. This makes Marib the largest Hadi-controlled city—and a strategically crucial one given its direct aviation and road links with Saudi Arabia, where the president currently resides. Marib also hosts three of the government’s regional military headquarters and the office of Defense Minister Mohammed Maqdashi, the senior ground forces commander.

Springboard for decisive offensives. Marib is situated at a key road junction connecting the southern governorates along the Gulf of Aden with Sanaa and Saudi Arabia. Seizing the city could allow the Houthis to mount rapid advances into oil-rich Shabwa governorate and toward the main Saudi border crossing.

Displaced persons.

Trade hub.

The Battle for Marib

The Houthi plan of attack has been simple and grindingly successful. It includes three elements:

Ground offensives.

Supporting bombardment of Marib.

Strikes on Saudi airbases.

Their apparent aim was to disrupt and distract Saudi air support to Marib, and this pattern persists today—Houthi advances are now timed to coincide with intensified rocket and drone attacks on Saudi Arabia’s main close air support base at Khamis Mushait and its drone and helicopter bases at Abha and Jizan. Rebels launched 29 such strikes this February and 27 in the first half of March, versus 5 in January before the latest offensive began.

Future U.S. Options

The U.S. government has rightfully condemned the Houthi push against Marib for threatening the peace process and accelerating the war.

Rhetorical condemnation will not be enough to deter the Houthis; words must be paired with the tangible prospect of military defeat at Marib and cascading reversals on other fronts. Accordingly, the administration should use U.S. channels with the Southern Transitional Council (STC) to ensure that secessionists do not distract from Marib’s defense by making opportunistic moves elsewhere. Washington and its partners should also privately encourage Saudi Arabia and the UAE to quietly reinsert a handful of medium artillery units—namely, self-propelled 155-millimeter howitzers, surveillance drones, and short-range air defenses. Although neither country is keen to redeploy ground troops, shuffling such units between desert bases outside Marib could have a decisive effect on the battle. For its part, Washington should consider providing targeting intelligence against Houthi frontline commanders in situations where such strikes are deemed safe, putting the crosshairs on personnel that the Houthis cannot so easily replace – by Michael Knights

and in tweets:

Comment: The Satloffian group with a history of mocking death of #Yemeni children has no place in discussing #Yemen or Arab affairs.

My comment: The author is a pro-Saudi hawk. Imagine what a strange proposal this is: make peace by war. The US claims it want to stops the war – now it should push it. The idea behind this proposal is that any peace should fit to the US geopolitical goals – this is weakening the Houthis. But, the US must decide whether it wants to stay a warirng party or whether it wants to be a peace broker.


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Washington’s Lack of Options in Marib

Strongly worded statements, however, are unlikely to change the reality on the ground. The US and international community cannot pursue a political settlement while the ongoing Houthi assault on Marib threatens to radically shift the balance of power in the war. A Houthi takeover of Marib could easily prove the most pivotal shift in the war to date and would have to be addressed before any renewed push for peace talks.

Halting the assault on Marib is an essential precursor to negotiations in Yemen. However, while the US can put pressure on the Saudi-led military coalition, the Biden administration lacks leverage with the Houthis. The inability to pressure the Houthis has also plagued the UN special envoy, who has been unable to coax the group into earnest peace talks or meaningful concessions.

The US has three basic options. The first, and unfortunately the most likely course, is that the US persists with its diplomatic approach to stop the Marib offensive. This won’t work. The UN has tried it numerous times. Diplomatic statements and demands to stand down haven’t worked before, and they are unlikely to prove successful this time.

It is possible that the Saudi-led coalition can fight the Houthis to a stalemate. But this would be temporary. The Houthis view Marib as existential, couching their offensive in religious terms, as they seek to gain control over much-needed natural resources in the governorate.

Option two is that the US recognizes that Marib falling will prove too disastrous from a military, political and humanitarian perspective, and does everything in its power to stop it from happening. To do this, the US will have to resort to the only true leverage it has over the Houthis: supporting a military intervention to quell the offensive. This is as unlikely to work as the first option, although for very different reasons. Namely, there is no appetite in either the Biden administration or Congress for direct military action in Yemen. Not to mention the fact that any direct US military intervention could backfire.

That leaves a third option. Understanding that words won’t stop the Houthis and that the US isn’t about to get directly involved in the fighting, the Biden administration could encourage Saudi Arabia and the UAE to redouble their efforts and re-engage in Marib. However, this would require Biden to walk back his rhetoric, at least tacitly, and reverse the administration’s signaling to Saudi Arabia. Instead of pressing the kingdom to draw down its war in Yemen, Biden would need to encourage a military pushback against the Houthis. Despite the UAE’s minimized role in Yemen since 2019, the US could request it to provide military support to help Saudi Arabia decisively roll back the Houthi offensive.

The US has no good options in Yemen. There are only bad options and worse ones. Encouraging the Saudi-led coalition to push back against the Houthis militarily is politically awkward so soon after declaring that the US would withdraw its support from the coalition’s offensive operations in Yemen. But allowing the Houthis to take Marib would be worse. Forcing a considerable Houthi retreat is the best deterrent to future offensives against the city. Further, containing the Houthis’ current lines of territorial control would deal a blow to the group’s aspirations and prove essential to pushing them into unconditional negotiations down the line.

A victory in Marib would likely cement Houthi control over much of north Yemen. Already, the Houthis see themselves as the primary beneficiaries of six years of war.

The Biden administration needs to accept that the US cannot end this war on its own. But if the US does want to put Yemen on the path toward peace and ensure that the country remains a single state, it is essential that the US does everything in its power to prevent Marib from falling to the Houthis. =

My comment: More war as option to end the war? This would not be a solution.

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Yemen’s prisoners of war and detainees: Lessons learned from local mediation

Prisoners of war and political and civilian detainees are two of the most important humanitarian issues in Yemen. As a result of the armed conflict, prisons were filled with thousands of prisoners and civilian detainees. The current conflict in Marib is said to threaten the lives of more than 500 prisoners, in addition to the risk it poses to prisoner exchange mediation efforts more broadly. A recent report on the situation facing detainees in Taiz’s Saleh Prison, the fate of whom is tied to the prisoner exchange lists, confirms seven prisoners have already died as a result of torture and medical negligence. This is out of a total of 956 abductees and detainees, of whom 60 are children.

As early as 2015 the Yemeni government submitted a list of 8,567 detainees to be released in exchange for 7,000 from the opposing side, the Houthi movement known as Ansar Allah. The fate of these men had been linked to each other for years, despite the apparent difference between an armed combatant captured on the front lines and a civilian illegally detained on political and security grounds. In both cases, Yemenis are held in various prisons and subjected to abuse, forced disappearance, and torture, including sexual violence. Of late they face the added risk of sickness or death as COVID-19 spreads rapidly within the prisons. All of this comes against the backdrop of a complete denial of the real number of prisoners and their places of detention, a total lack of humanitarian standards, and a complete disregard for the extent of the spread of the virus among them. Information from our sources suggests that in the central prisons of Ibb, Sanaa, and Taiz the degree to which the virus has spread is truly frightening.

International vs. local efforts

One of the reasons why internationally led mediation efforts are not able to make much progress is that they limit themselves to identifying lists of prisoners and detainees to be exchanged instead of going into the root causes of the conflict and the reasons behind the non-implementation of previous agreements.

By contrast, local mediation has had impressive results, and local mediators, including women, have become key players in resolving this humanitarian issue. Local mediation efforts, some of which I personally co-led since the beginning of the conflict, have succeeded in releasing hundreds of prisoners from all sides.

I can say this because I know it from my own experience. After a seven-month-long intensive effort, on Dec. 17, 2015 I successfully achieved the exchange of 480 prisoners as a first batch out of 560 prisoners between the Houthis and the Yemeni government.

Lessons learned

One of the most important lessons I have learned in my experience is that Yemeni society and local social leaders must be involved and that the discussions should not be limited to just the warring parties. In my efforts, I have always made sure that everyone with whom I negotiated understood that I was extremely passionate about this issue and that to me this was not just a job or a temporary project. I also leaned on local values and supporting customs in my mediation work, taking into account the specificity of Yemeni reality and the tribal and political system. Needless to say, I used my social network and contacts to support this process.

Achieving tangible results on the ground in the case of prisoners and detainees requires the international community, the United Nations, and the Office of the U.N. Special Envoy to integrate their efforts with Yemeni peace makers, particularly female activists and influential local leaders.

Experience has shown that to bring an end to the war in Yemen, international mediators need to stop ignoring and excluding local efforts and peace builders. Achieving sustainable peace will not happen without the equal involvement of women leaders and the inclusion of those who had no hand in the war – by Laila Lutf al-Thawr, the Assistant Secretary-General and Head of the Political Bureau and Relations of the Arab Hope Party

cp2a Saudische Blockade / Saudi blockade

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Yemen – Fuel crisis and Humanitarian Response Plan (DG ECHO, UN agencies, NGOs, media) (ECHO Daily Flash of 18 March 2021)

Since 3 January 2021, no fuel vessels have been permitted to berth in Hodeida ports. Currently, 14 commercial vessels carrying some 340,000 metric tons of fuel are waiting for clearance to provide fuel to the north of Yemen, where fuel scarcity is resulting in rising fuel prices on the unofficial market.

Both private sector and humanitarian response are impacted, including the continuity of milling wheat for food distributions, transportation of essential (food) commodities, electricity provision through generators for hospitals and water treatment plants.

According to the Civil Aviation authority in Sana’a, fuel shortages could also impact the operation of humanitarian flights at Sana’a International Airport, which would severely limit staff movements.

Urgent clearance of fuel vessels is needed to avoid a further deterioration of the already dire humanitarian situation.

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A Day in Line

June 2020: My alarm went off at 6 a.m. that Monday. Normally, I would start getting ready for work at that time, but this particular morning I wanted to try something exceptional. I wanted to fill my car with gas.

I had seen the queues of cars lined up outside petrol stations, so I knew it might take some time. I told my colleagues I would be two hours late.

That month, a petrol crisis had begun in my home city of Sana’a – one more side effect of the war that we had been living through for the past five years and one that has made long lines at gas stations a feature of the Sana’a cityscape. As the fuel crisis escalated that June I drove back and forth to work, looking at the long lines of cars waiting for fuel and wondering when my time would come. Then one day it happened: The yellow light on my fuel gauge lit up. It was my turn.

I talked with two friends, Shaima’a and Safa’a, on Sunday evening, and they agreed to come along. We had two options: stand in line and buy fuel at the official price, about US$10 for 20 liters; or try the black market and pay double that price. Black market petrol is typically doctored with other ingredients, which can badly damage a car. We decided to wait in line. In Sana’a, that meant going to the women-only petrol station on Faj Attan Street – by Farah Al-Wazeer

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Red Sea Ports Corporation denies entry of oil tankers to Hodeida port

The Yemeni Red Sea Ports Corporation on Wednesday denied what the Saudi-led aggression coalition media outlets are promoting about the entry of dozens of oil tankers into the berths of Hodeida port.

The Corporation affirmed, in a statement, that "these allegations are baseless and come in the context of misinformation, fraud and media warfare adopted by the aggression coalition to justify maritime piracy against fuel ships and the continued impeding the entry of goods and humanitarian needs."

The statement indicated that since the beginning of the year 2021, no fuel tanker has ever reached the docks of the port of Hodeida.

and also

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[Sanaa] Yemeni Parliament Holds US-Saudi Aggression Responsible of Detaining Fuel Tankers

cp3 Humanitäre Lage / Humanitarian situation

Siehe / Look at cp1, cp2

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Audio: ‘Hunger Ward’ depicts the effects of war and famine on children in Yemen

Portland filmmaker Skye Fitzgerald’s newest short documentary, “Hunger Ward” follows a doctor and nurse who work in two of the biggest therapeutic feeding centers in Yemen. Their job is to try to save starving children. The United Nations calls Yemen “the worst humanitarian crisis in the world.” Six years of civil war have led to mass starvation and cut off food aid to much of the country. In his first foreign policy address last month, President Joe Biden said the U.S. would end its support for the Saudi coalition in Yemen, who are fighting Houthi rebels backed by Iran. “Hunger Ward” is the third in Fitzgerald’s trilogy focused on the Middle East and has been nominated for an Oscar. We talk with him about the film and what he and his crew experienced in their time in Yemen.

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Audio: Spirituelle Not im Jemen lindern

Mit dem Programm «Hope for Yemen» von TWR

TWR kann zwar kein Essen und keine Medizin liefern, aber mit seinem Programm «Hope for Yemen» Hoffnung weitergeben, wie Ranja im Beitrag ausführt.

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Jemen: Wann spricht man von einer Hungersnot?

"Die Chance, eine Hungersnot im Jemen noch zu verhindern, schwindet mit jedem Tag", so warnten UNICEF, das Welternährungsprogramm und die Ernährungs- und Landwirtschaftsorganisation der Vereinten Nationen im Dezember 2020 gemeinsam.

Es ist nicht das erste Mal, dass im Zusammenhang mit dem Bürgerkriegsland diese dringliche Warnung zu hören ist. Die Situation im Jemen ist katastrophal, schon mehrfach stand das Land am Abgrund. Doch aktuell ist die Lage der Familien so verheerend wie nie.

Die Menschen hungern. Mehr als 24 Millionen Menschen im Land sind auf humanitäre Hilfe angewiesen. Das sind 80 Prozent der Bevölkerung. Die Situation zwingt Eltern jeden Tag, furchtbare Entscheidungen zu treffen: Fliehen oder bleiben wir? Kaufen wir für unsere Kinder heute etwas zu essen oder Trinkwasser? Können wir uns eine medizinische Behandlung für unser krankes Kind leisten?

Aktuellen Zahlen zufolge sind im Jemen 400.000 Kinder lebensbedrohlich mangelernährt. Das bedeutet, dass sie sofort Hilfe brauchen – denn sie kämpfen jeden Tag um ihr Leben. UNICEF-Experten schätzen, dass 2,3 Millionen Kinder unter fünf Jahren im Verlauf des Jahres 2021 an akuter Mangelernährung leiden werden. Für jedes dieser Kinder gilt: Werden sie nicht behandelt, geraten auch sie schnell in Lebensgefahr.

Im Jemen wurde noch keine Hungersnot ausgerufen. In Kriegs- und Krisenländern sind die Daten für die IPC oft unvollständig. Deshalb ist es eine große Herausforderung, die Situation der Menschen auf Basis der vorliegenden Daten präzise zu beschreiben.

Das klingt sehr technisch und auch zynisch, wenn man auf die verheerende Lage der Menschen im Jemen schaut. Dennoch ist es wichtig, dass es klar definierte, einheitliche Kriterien für das Ausrufen einer Hungersnot gibt und dass diese beachtet werden. Ohne sie würde die Gefahr steigen, dass der Begriff "Hungersnot" politisch instrumentalisiert wird.

Gleichzeitig gehen Experten davon aus, dass in einigen Regionen im Jemen die Lebensumstände der Menschen bereits denen einer Hungersnot gleichen.

Mein Kommentar: In der Tat, zynisch.

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WFP Yemen Situation Report #2, February 2021

In Numbers

20.7 million people in need of humanitarian assistance*

4 million people internally displaced

16.2 million people are food insecure (IPC 3+)

*According to the Humanitarian Needs Overview (HNO) 2021


WFP targeted 9 million Yemeni people with general food assistance under February distributions.

2,124 confirmed cumulative cases of COVID-19 were reported by the end of January.

WFP requires USD 479.5 million to continue operations unimpeded over the next six months (March 2021 – August 2021).

In the areas under the Sana’a-based authorities, the fuel crisis continued in February as no fuel vessels have been permitted to berth by the Saudi-led Coalition (SLC) since 03 January 2021 and as of 28 February, 13 commercial vessels carrying 352,199 mt of fuel continued to be held in the Saudi-led Coalition (SLC) holding area.

The latest IPC nutrition analysis revealed that in 2021 nearly 2.25 million Yemeni children under the age of five are threatened to suffer from acute malnutrition. During this year, WFP is targeting 3.3 million children and mothers with services to treat and prevent malnutrition in all priority districts, including IDP sites.

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WFP Yemen Country Brief, February 2021

In Numbers

9 million people targeted in February 2021

74,400 mt of general food assistance

US$14.5 million cash-based transfers

US$9.8 million food vouchers

US$479.5 million six-month net funding requirements (March – August 2021)

Operational Updates

Under the February cycle, WFP targeted 9 million people with general food assistance. Of these, 6.1 million people were targeted with in-kind food assistance, around 1.7 million people with food vouchers and over 1.2 million people with cash assistance.

In the southern areas, 4.25 million beneficiaries are to be biometrically registered. By the end of February, over 1.66 million beneficiaries have been biometrically registered in the areas under the Internationally Recognized Government of Yemen (IRG). In November 2020, WFP launched the provision of general food assistance through cash transfers in the areas under the Sana’a-based authorities. As of 28 February, around 18,800 people have been biometrically registered and activities are proceeding in three districts in Sana’a city, with the aim to reach over 140,000 people within the first phase.

My comment: Under the pretext of humanitarian aid, they promote the “Great Rest” agenda of a world-wide “digital identity” for everybody, meaning the total registration of everybody, the idea of a “transparent citizen” under total “Big Data” control.

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A Body Without a Leg in a Country Without a Head

Shortly after my surgery, I visited the Sana’a prosthetics center, where patients can obtain artificial limbs and receive rehabilitation care. I hoped to improve my walking. At the center, I felt like one must drown in the tragedy to forget it.

I saw hundreds of patients, including children, who had lost limbs during war and due to accidents. My suffering seemed less tragic than that of 8-year-old Abdulrahman, who lost both his legs when he fell down a steep slope while grazing his sheep. His father brought him to Sana’a all the way from Hajjah governorate, one of Yemen’s poorest regions, in the far northwestern corner of the country. While waiting his turn, Abdulrahman asked his father whether he would be able to return to school and play with his friends again. All of us, his fellow amputees in the waiting room, broke down in tears.

At the time, Yemen had a population of about 30 million, and only one center in the entire country. In 2017, around 200 to 500 patients visited it each day. (Two more centers have since opened.)

Our government has created laws aimed at making life easier for those with physical disabilities, the most important of which is Law No. 61 of 1999, which provides an official fund that was intended to provide supplies, such as electric wheelchairs and prosthetics, to people with disabilities., The fund is also supposed to be used for educational scholarships. But like other laws, it is little more than ink on paper. The current war has only made matters worse as the state has been incapable of providing basic services to citizens, let alone to those with disabilities.

In the meantime, the number of those disabled has grown exponentially due to the conflict. Two Saudi-coalition airstrikes alone – one targeting Jabal Attan in 2015, the other striking a community hall in Al-Sala Al-Kubra in 2016 – severely injured some 1,000 people. Some of those injured had limbs amputated. There have been thousands of airstrikes over the years, and the number of maimed increases with each new explosion.

Eventually, I started my organization – Hope for Amputees – as a small effort to provide prosthetics and physical therapy for amputees. I was lucky enough to receive my initial treatment overseas and receive a prosthesis, which helps me walk, even if only for a few meters. But most of that work has stopped now as a result of the difficulties of war and fewer funding opportunities.

Our healthcare system has deteriorated due to the war, while our currency has depreciated and salaries have been cut. Many of those whose limbs have been amputated cannot afford prosthetics, and sometimes there are not enough prostheses to meet demand for those who can pay. For the lucky ones who do get them, life remains a challenge. Most buildings in Yemen don’t have elevators, our streets don’t have safe lanes, and our sidewalks don’t have accessible ramps. Many of us, myself included, used to get around fairly easily in cars, but fuel shortages have made even that difficult. With each passing day of this war, the suffering becomes worse.

No one can earn a living anymore. There are more amputees on the streets begging for food, but in truth, more people of all kinds are on the street begging – for food, for money, for help. We are living life without a limb in a country torn apart by conflict. Most days it feels like Yemen is going through an amputation, yet this time there is no anesthesia, nor did we consent to this surgery in advance.

But we are still alive. I am still alive. I lost a leg, but I haven’t lost hope. I confront loss with hope.

(B H)

Film: The specter of closure and the alarm bell threatens Kamran Charitable Hospital in Hodeidah

(* B H)

Yemeni women use solar to light up homes, one village at a time

Ten trailblazing Yemeni women have overcome scepticism and ridicule to bring electricity to their villages, illuminating lives with a micro-grid solar business that they hope to expand across their war-torn region.

In a conservative country wracked by hunger and poverty amid a devastating war that has destroyed most infrastructure, 36-year-old Iman Hadi and her burqa-clad colleagues are achieving what many would have thought unthinkable.

Hadi has been managing the all-female Friends of the Environment Station in the rebel-held area of Abs, northwest of the capital Sanaa, since 2019.

Equipped with six solar power grids, the station is the only source of electricity for dozens of houses in several villages.

Hadi said the idea started when the women imagined what they could do to help ease the impact of war on the poorest country in the Arabian Peninsula.

"We were able to make many people happy by connecting their houses to electricity," said Hadi, wearing the all-covering robe and well-worn gloves as she sat behind her desk in a makeshift structure at the station.

The station, one of three in the country but the only run by an all-female crew, started with 20 houses. Today, it powers twice that number.

"In Yemen, where people cannot afford to purchase food, access healthcare or other fundamental needs, providing the option of solar energy for remote areas empowers communities and builds hope and resilience in an otherwise often hopeless situation", says Auke Lootsma, the UN Development Programme Resident Representative to Yemen.

Projects like Hadi's station, which received UN and European Union funding and training, have helped Yemenis regain a semblance of normal life. =

(B H)

Yemen: Access Constraints as of 16 March 2021

(* B H)

Aid partners appeal for US$3.85 billion to avert famine in Yemen

Yesterday, the Humanitarian Country Team in Yemen released the 2021 Yemen Humanitarian Response Plan (YHRP), appealing for US$3.85 billion to provide humanitarian assistance to some 16 million people in need, including 12.1 million people in acute need.

“The toll that more than six years of conflict have taken on the people of Yemen is devastating,” said Mr. David Gressly, the Humanitarian Coordinator for Yemen. “People in Yemen need urgent humanitarian assistance to fend off hunger, to access essential health services, to maintain their dignity and resilience and to rebuild their communities.”

This follows the release of the 2021 Humanitarian Needs Overview (HNO) on 21 February, which showed that Yemen remains the world’s worst humanitarian crisis and is at high risk of further deterioration.

“Yemen is approaching the point of no return. If we make the wrong choice now, Yemen will experience the worst famine the world has seen in decades,” said Mr. Gressly. “What the international donor community chooses to do next is vitally important. It is a choice between fully funding the humanitarian operation or doing nothing and watching the country fall deeper into famine. I urge donor countries and Yemen’s partners to provide immediate support. The millions of Yemenis who are starving, suffering from disease and bearing the brunt of six years of protracted conflict can’t wait. Yemen can’t wait.”

and also

Reuters report:

cp4 Flüchtlinge / Refugees

Siehe / Look at cp1, cp2, cp17

Houthis continue to target people's houses in Hays

Locals sources said that the pro-Iran rebels fired heavy mortar rounds at the people's houses in Hays creating a state of fear and panic among the civilian inhabitants, mostly women and children.
Yesterday, six people, including a woman and four children were severely injured by Houthis' mortar attacks on the residential neighborhoods of Hays.

Fortsetzung / Sequel: cp5 – cp19

Vorige / Previous:

Jemenkrieg-Mosaik 1-727 / Yemen War Mosaic 1-727: oder / or

Der saudische Luftkrieg im Bild / Saudi aerial war images:

(18 +, Nichts für Sensible!) / (18 +; Graphic!)

Liste aller Luftangriffe / and list of all air raids:

Untersuchung ausgewählter Luftangriffe durch Bellingcat / Bellingcat investigations of selected air raids:

Untersuchungen von Angriffen, hunderte von Filmen / Investigations of attacks, hundreds of films:

13:03 19.03.2021
Dieser Beitrag gibt die Meinung des Autors wieder, nicht notwendigerweise die der Redaktion des Freitag.
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Dietrich Klose

Vielfältig interessiert am aktuellen Geschehen, zur Zeit besonders: Ukraine, Russland, Jemen, Rolle der USA, Neoliberalismus, Ausbeutung der 3. Welt
Dietrich Klose