The Yemeni Civil War is an ongoing conflict that began in 2015 between two factions: the Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi-led Yemeni government and the Houthi armed movement, along with their supporters and allies. Both claim to constitute the official government of Yemen.
The conflict has been widely seen as an extension of the Iran–Saudi Arabia proxy conflict and as a means to combat Iranian influence in the region. In 2018, the United Nations warned that 13 million Yemeni civilians face starvation in what it says could become "the worst famine in the world in 100 years."
The international community has sharply condemned the Saudi Arabian-led bombing campaign, which has included widespread bombing of civilian areas. The bombing campaign has killed or injured an estimated 17,729 civilians as of March 2019 according to the Yemen Data Project. Despite this, the crisis has only recently[when?] begun to gain as much international media attention as the Syrian Civil War.
The intensity of the conflict waxed and waned over the course of the 2000s, with multiple peace agreements being negotiated and later disregarded. The Houthi insurgency heated up in 2009, briefly drawing neighboring Saudi Arabia to the side of the Yemeni government, but cooled the following year after a ceasefire was signed.
Meanwhile, the conflict between the Houthis and Sunni tribes in northern Yemen spread to other governorates, including the Sanaʽa Governorate by mid-2014. After several weeks of street protests against the Hadi administration, which made cuts to fuel subsidies that were unpopular with the group, the Houthis fought the Yemen Army forces under the command of General Ali Mohsen al-Ahmar. In a battle that lasted only a few days, Houthi fighters seized control of Sanaʽa, the Yemeni capital, in September 2014. The Houthis forced Hadi to negotiate an agreement to end the violence, in which the government resigned and the Houthis gained an unprecedented level of influence over state institutions and politics.
On 21 February, one month after Houthi militants confined Hadi to his residence in Sanaʽa, he slipped out of the capital and traveled to Aden. In a televised address from his hometown, he declared that the Houthi takeover was illegitimate and indicated he remained the constitutional president of Yemen. His predecessor as president, Ali Abdullah Saleh—who had been widely suspected of aiding the Houthis during their takeover of Sanaʽa the previous year—publicly denounced Hadi and called on him to go into exile.
The Houthis have long been accused of being proxies for Iran, since they both follow Shia Islam (although the Iranians are Twelve-Imam Shias and the Houthis are Zaidi Shia). The United States and Saudi Arabia have alleged that the Houthis receive weapons and training from Iran. While the Houthis and the Iranian government have denied any military affiliation, Iranian supreme leader Ali Khamenei openly announced his "spiritual" support of the movement in a personal meeting with the Houthi spokesperson Mohammed Abdul Salam in Tehran, in the midst of ongoing conflicts in Aden in 2019. Also, IRGC commander Nasser Shabani was quoted by the Fars News Agency, the semi-official news agency of the Iranian government, as saying, "We (IRGC) told Yemenis [Houthi rebels] to strike two Saudi oil tankers, and they did it," on 7 August 2018. The African nation of Eritrea has also been accused of funneling Iranian material to the Houthis, as well as offering medical care for injured Houthi fighters. The Eritrean government has called the allegations "groundless" and said after the outbreak of open hostilities that it views the Yemeni crisis "as an internal matter". According to a secret United Nations document, North Korea had aided the Houthis by selling weapons.
The Yemeni government meanwhile has enjoyed significant international backing from the United States and Persian Gulf monarchies. U.S. drone strikes were conducted regularly in Yemen during Hadi's presidency in Sanaʽa, usually targeting Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. The United States was also a major supplier of weapons to the Yemeni government, although according to the Pentagon, hundreds of millions of dollars' worth of that material has gone missing since it was delivered. Saudi Arabia provided financial aid to Yemen until late 2014, when it suspended it amid the Houthis' takeover of Sanaʽa and increasing influence over the Yemeni government. According to Amnesty International, the United Kingdom also supplied weaponry used by Saudi-led coalition to strike targets in Yemen. Amnesty International also says that U.S.-based Raytheon Company supplied a laser-guided bomb that killed six civilians on June 28, 2019.
On 19 March 2015, the troops loyal to Hadi clashed with those who refused to recognize his authority in the Battle of Aden Airport. The forces under General Abdul-Hafez al-Saqqaf were defeated, and al-Saqqaf fled toward Sanaʽa. In apparent retaliation for the routing of al-Saqqaf, warplanes reportedly flown by Houthi pilots bombed Hadi's compound in Aden.
After 20 March 2015Sanaʽa mosque bombings, in a televised speech, Abdul-Malik al-Houthi, the leader of the Houthis, said his group's decision to mobilize for war was "imperative" under current circumstances and that Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula and its affiliates—among whom he counts Hadi—would be targeted, as opposed to southern Yemen and its citizens. President Hadi declared Aden to be Yemen's temporary capital while Sanaʽa remained under Houthi control.
Also, the same day as the mosque bombings, al-Qaeda militants captured the provincial capital of Lahij, Al Houta District after killing about 20 soldiers before being driven out several hours later.
Hadi reiterated in a speech on 21 March 2015 that he was the legitimate president of Yemen and declared, "We will restore security to the country and hoist the flag of Yemen in Sanaʽa, instead of the Iranian flag." He also declared Aden to be Yemen's "economic and temporary capital" due to the Houthi occupation of Sanaʽa, which he pledged would be retaken.
On 22 March 2015, Houthi forces backed by troops loyal to Saleh entered Taiz, Yemen's third-largest city, and quickly took over its key points. They encountered little resistance, although one protester was shot dead and five were injured.Western media outlets began to suggest Yemen was sliding into civil war as the Houthis from the north confronted holdouts in the south.
Western Yemen advance
On 23 March 2015, Houthi forces advanced towards the strategic Bab-el-Mandeb strait, a vital corridor through which much of the world's maritime trade passes. The next day, fighters from the group reportedly entered the port of Mocha.
On 31 March 2015, Houthi fighters entered a coastal military base on the strait after the 17th Armoured Division of the Yemen Army opened the gates and turned over weapons to them.
On 2 April 2015, Mahamoud Ali Youssouf, the foreign minister of Djibouti, said the Houthis placed heavy weapons and fast attack boats on Perim and a smaller island in the Bab-el-Mandeb strait. He warned that the weapons posed "a big danger" to his country, commercial shipping traffic, and military vessels.
On 24 March 2015, Houthi forces seized administrative buildings in Dhale (or Dali) amid heavy fighting, bringing them closer to Aden. However, Houthi fighters were swiftly dislodged from Ad Dali' and Kirsh by Hadi-loyal forces.
Fighting over Dhale continued even as the Houthis advanced further south and east. On 31 March 2015, Hadi loyalists clashed with the Houthis and army units loyal to Saleh.
On 1 April 2015, a pro-Houthi army brigade was said to have "disintegrated" after being pummeled by coalition warplanes in Ad Dali. The commander of the 33rd Brigade reportedly fled, and groups of pro-Houthi troops withdrew to the north.
Three Saudi F-15Cs from 13th Squadron
The city reportedly fell into pro-government hands by the end of May.
Over the following days, Houthi and allied army forces encircled Aden and hemmed in Hadi's holdouts, although they encountered fierce resistance from the embattled president's loyalists and armed city residents. They began pressing into the city center on 29 March 2015 despite coalition air strikes and shelling from Egyptian Navy warships offshore.
On 2 April 2015, the compound that has been used as a temporary presidential palace was taken by the Houthis, and fighting moved into the central Crater and Al Mualla districts.
A small contingent of foreign troops were reportedly deployed in Aden by early May, fighting alongside anti-Houthi militiamen in the city. Saudi Arabia denied the presence of ground troops, while Hadi's government claimed the troops were Yemeni special forces who had received training in the Persian Gulf and were redeployed to fight in Aden.
President Hadi meets U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, 7 May 2015
On 21 July 2015, forces loyal to Hadi recaptured Aden with support from Saudi Arabia in Operation Golden Arrow after months of fighting. This allowed supplies to finally reach the port city giving civilians desperately-needed aid.
On 22 July 2015, a Saudi military plane landed in Aden international airport filled with relief aid. Also, a UN ship docked in Aden carrying much-needed relief supplies, the first UN vessel to reach the city in four months. Another ship sent by the UAE also delivered medical aid. On 21 July 2015, a UAE technical team had arrived to repair the tower and passenger terminal at Aden international airport, heavily damaged in clashes. On 24 July 2015, a military plane from the UAE arrived filled with relief aid.
On 4 August 2015, Houthi forces were pushed back from the Al-Anad airbase, by Pro-Hadi forces.
On 17 October 2015, Saudi Arabia confirmed the arrival of Sudanese troops into Aden for the purpose of bolstering the Saudi-led coalition.
In January 2016, new conflict began in Aden, with ISIL and AQAP controlling neighborhoods in the city.
As of February 2016, pro-Hadi forces managed to enter Sanaʽa governorate by capturing the Nihm District killing dozens of Houthi fighters. They continued their advance, capturing some cities and villages.
Local tribal fighters aligned with Hadi surrounded and entered Mukalla on 4 April 2015, retaking parts of the city and clashing with both al-Qaeda militants and army troops. Still, the militants remained in control of about half of the town. In addition, al-Qaeda fighters captured a border post with Saudi Arabia in an attack that killed two soldiers.
On 13 April 2015, Southern militia said they took control of the army base loyal to the Houthis near Balhaf. Mukalla city was recaptured from AQAP in late April 2016, after UAE and Hadi loyalists troops entered the city, killing some 800 AQAP fighters.
Although the Houthis took control of Lahij on the road to Aden, resistance continued in the Lahij Governorate. Ambushes and bombings struck Houthi supply lines to the Aden front, with a land mine killing a reported 25 Houthi fighters on their way to Aden on 28 March 2015.
Fighting also centered on the Shabwa Province, in the oil-rich Usaylan region, where Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) and Ansar al-Sharia hold sway. On 29 March 2015, 38 were killed in fighting between the Houthis and Sunni tribesmen. Tribal sources confirmed the death toll, and claimed only 8 of them were from their side, with the other 30 either Houthis or their allies from the Yemeni military.
On 9 April 2015, the Houthis and their allies seized the provincial capital of Ataq. The takeover was facilitated by local tribal chiefs and security officials. AQAP seized Azzan, and Habban in early February 2016.
On 22 March 2015, in the province of Ma'rib, 6 members of pro Hadi tribes were killed during fighting against Houthis.
On 23 March 2015, 15 Houthis and 5 tribesmen were killed in clashes in the Al Bayda Governorate. During the fight between Hadi loyalists and Houthi militiamen in Sanaʽa, the Ethiopian embassy was reportedly struck by shelling on 3 April 2015. The Ethiopian government said the attack appeared to be unintentional. No injuries at the embassy were reported.
On 7 April 2015, armed tribesmen drove off Houthis who had set up a makeshift camp in southern Ibb Governorate and seized their weapons.
Between 17 and 18 April 2015, at least 30 people were killed when the Houthis and allied army units attacked a pro-Hadi military base in Taiz. The dead included 8–16 pro-Hadi and 14–19 Houthi fighters, as well as 3 civilians. Another report put the number of dead at 85.
On the morning of 19 April 2015, 10 more Houthi and four pro-Hadi fighters were killed.
A pro-Hadi official claimed 150 pro-Houthi and 27 tribal fighters had been killed in fighting in Ma'rib province between 2 and 21 April 2015.
On 4 September 2015 a Houthi missile hit an ammunition dump at a military base in Ma'rib killing 45 UAE, 10 Saudi and 5 Bahraini soldiers.
On 16 October 2015, Houthis and allied forces reportedly seized control of a military base in the town of Mukayris, pushing opponents out of southern Bayda.
On 6 January 2016, Hadi loyalists captured the strategic port of Midi District, but insurgents backed by the Houthi government continued making attacks in and around the city.
Saudi soldier from the First Airborne Brigade conversing with an Emirati soldier in Yemen, June 2016.
A pro-Saleh protest in Sanaʽa against the Saudi-led intervention, March 2016
In response to rumors that Saudi Arabia could intervene in Yemen, Houthi commander Ali al-Shami boasted on 24 March 2015 that his forces would invade the larger kingdom and not stop at Mecca, but rather Riyadh.
The following evening, answering a request by Yemen's internationally recognized government, Saudi Arabia began a military intervention alongside eight other Arab states and with the logistical support of the United States against the Houthis, bombing positions throughout Sanaʽa. In a joint statement, the nations of the Gulf Cooperation Council (with the exception of Oman) said they decided to intervene against the Houthis in Yemen at the request of Hadi's government.King Salman of Saudi Arabia declared the Royal Saudi Air Force to be in full control of Yemeni airspace within hours of the operation beginning. The airstrikes were aimed at hindering the Houthis' advance toward Hadi's stronghold in southern Yemen.
On 21 April 2015, the bombing campaign was officially declared over, with Saudi officials saying they would begin Operation Restoring Hope as a combination of political, diplomatic, and military efforts to end the war. Even still, airstrikes continued against Houthi targets, and fighting in Aden and Ad Dali' went on.
The United Arab Emirates has also spearheaded an active role against fighting AQAP and ISIL-YP presence in Yemen through a partnership with the United States. In an Op-Ed in The Washington Post,Yousef Al Otaiba, the UAE ambassador to the United States, described that the intervention has reduced AQAP presence in Yemen to its weakest point since 2012 with many areas previously under their control liberated. The ambassador claimed that more than 2,000 militants have been removed from the battlefield, with their controlled areas now having improved security and a better delivered humanitarian and development assistance such as to the port city of Mukalla and other liberated areas.
An Associated Press investigation outlined that the military coalition in Yemen actively reduced AQAP in Yemen without military intervention, instead by offering them deals and even actively recruiting them in the coalition because "they are considered as exceptional fighters". UAE Brigadier General Musallam Al Rashidi responded to the accusations by stating that Al Qaeda cannot be reasoned with and cited that they killed many of his soldiers. The UAE military stated that accusations of allowing AQAP to leave with cash contradict their primary objective of depriving AQAP of its financial strength. The notion of the coalition recruiting or paying AQAP has been thoroughly denied by the United States Pentagon with Colonel Robert Manning, spokesperson of the Pentagon, calling the news source "patently false". The governor of HadramutFaraj al-Bahsani, dismissed the accusations that Al Qaeda has joined with the coalition rank, explaining that if they did there would be sleeper cells and that he would be "the first one to be killed". According to The Independent, AQAP activity on social media as well as the number of terror attacks conducted by them has decreased since the Emirati intervention.
A certification and assurance was announced by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo stating that maximum efforts are being taken by the Saudi-led coalition to avoid civilian casualties in order to legally authorize the American military to refuel coalition military aircraft and has affirmed to continue its support. The Spanish government initially cancelled the sale of 400 laser-guided bombs to Saudi Arabia, however they have since reversed the decision.
According to the Guardian news agency, more than 40 Saudi officers have been trained at prestigious British military colleges since the Saudi intervention in Yemen started. These officers mostly trained at Sandhurst, the RAF’s school at Cranwell and the Royal Naval College in Dartmouth since 2015. The MoD refused to state the earned money from the Saudi contracts, because it could influence Britain's relations with the Saudis.
Abdul-Malik Badreddin, The Houthi leader condemned the UK's military cooperation and arms sales to the Saudi military. According to a Sky News analysis, The UK has sold at least £5.7bn worth of arms to the Saudi-led coalition fighting in Yemen since 2015.
Priyanka Motaparthy, senior emergencies researcher at Human Rights Watch, said: “These revelations confirm once again how the UK military is working hand in glove with the Saudis.
Houthi rebels released footage and images of destroyed Light Armoured Vehicles (LAV), which are reportedly manufactured by Canada and sold to Saudi Arabia for fighting in Yemen. Former Bloc Quebecois MP, Daniel Turp has called on Ottawa to cancel its arms deal with Riyadh.
In 2013, Radhya Al-Mutawakel and Abdelrasheed Al-Faqih, Directors of Mwatana, published a joint report with Open Society Foundations titled 'Death by Drone', detailing evidence of civilian casualties and damage to civilian objects in nine US drone strikes.
Islamic State presence and operations
The Islamic State (IS) has proclaimed several provinces in Yemen and has urged its adherents to wage war against the Houthi movement, as well as against Zaydis in general. ISIS militants have conducted bombing attacks in various parts of the country, particularly against mosques in Sanaʽa.
On 6 October 2015, IS militants conducted a series of suicide bombings in Aden that killed 15 soldiers affiliated with the Hadi-led government and the Saudi-led coalition. The attacks were directed against the al-Qasr hotel, which had been a headquarters for pro-Hadi officials, and also military facilities. Yemeni officials and UAE state news agency declared that 11 Yemeni and 4 United Arab Emirates soldiers were killed in Aden due to 4 coordinated Islamic State suicide bombings. Prior to the claim of responsibility by the Islamic State, UAE officials blamed the Houthis and former president Ali Abdullah Saleh, for the attacks.
A five-day ceasefire proposed by Saudi Arabia was accepted by the Houthis and their allies in the military on 10 May 2015. The ceasefire was intended to allow the delivery of humanitarian aid to the country. The temporary truce began on the night of 12 May 2015 to allow the delivery of food, water, medical, and fuel aid throughout the country.
On the fourth day of the truce, the fragile peace unraveled as fighting broke out in multiple southern governorates. At least three civilians in Aden and 12 in Taiz were killed on 16 May 2015, despite the ceasefire.Agence France-Presse reported that "dozens" were killed in southern Yemen by the clashes, including 26 Houthi and 12 pro-Hadi fighters.
Around the same time in 2015 reports surfaced in the media suggesting that Oman, which is the only Middle Eastern Monarchy not taking part in the coalition and has a border with Yemen, has presented a 7-point plan to both Houthis and Saudi Arabia. The Houthis accepted the peace talks and the 7-point plan while Saudi Arabia and Hadi government refused negotiations with the Houthis. It has also been suggested that Oman was responsible to mediate a 24-hour ceasefire although analysts doubted if Oman could help bring about more rigid negotiations.
The following parts constituted the planned initiative:
The withdrawal of the Houthis and forces loyal to deposed president Ali Abdullah Saleh from all Yemeni cities and the return of military hardware and munitions seized from the Yemeni Army.
The restoration of the president Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi and the government of Khalid Bahah.
Early parliamentary and presidential elections.
An agreement signed by all Yemeni parties.
The conversion of Ansarullah into a political party.
An international aid conference attended by donor states.
Yemen entering the Gulf Cooperation Council.
Sabeen square mass demonstration
On Saturday, 20 August 2016, there were demonstrations at Satin Sanaʽa's Sabeen square to show support for the Higher Political Council, the Shia Houthi governing body and former Yemeni president Ali Abdullah Saleh. The head of council pledged to form a full government within days. The crowd size was variously placed at tens of thousands and hundreds of thousands. The crowd's demands were "quickly rejected by the United Nations and the country's internationally recognized government." Meanwhile, Saudi planes roared above the population and bombed nearby leaving an unknown number of casualties.
On 29 January 2017, the Yakla raid occurred. U.S. Navy SEALs executed a raid, President Barack Obama's national security aides had reviewed the plans for a risky attack. Mr. Obama did not act because the Pentagon wanted to launch the attack on a moonless night and the next one would come after his term had ended. With only 5 days in Office, President Trump was given the task; the raid caused several civilian casualties, with "a chain of mishaps and misjudgments" leading to a 50-minute shootout that led to the killing of one SEAL, the wounding of three other SEALs, and the deliberate destruction of a $75 million U.S. MV-22 Osprey aircraft that had been badly damaged on landing. The U.S. government reported that 14 Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula fighters were killed and acknowledged that "civilian noncombatants likely were killed" as well.Human Rights Watch, citing witness statements, reported the death of 14 civilians, including nine children.
From 1 to 8 March 2017, the US conducted 45 airstrikes against AQAP, a record amount of airstrikes conducted against the group by the US in recent history. The airstrikes were reported to have killed hundreds of AQAP militants.
In May 2017, ISIL's Wilayats in Yemen released their videos, claiming attacks upon both government, Houthi and AQAP targets. One, they recorded their attack upon a Houthi target, then assassinating government troops and tribal members. Then posting their suicide attacks.
On 22 July 2017, Houthis and forces loyal to Ali Abdullah Saleh launched a retaliation missile (called Volcano H-2) on Saudi Arabia targeting the oil refineries in the Yanbu Province of Saudi Arabia. Houthis and Ali Saleh media have claimed that the missile hit its target causing a major fire, while Saudi Arabia has claimed that it was due to the extreme heat that caused one of the generators to blow up.
On 27 July 2017, Houthis and forces loyal to Ali Abdullah Saleh launched approximately 4 Volcano 1 missiles at King Fahad Air Base, the Houthis and Saleh said that the missiles had successfully hit their targets, whereas Saudi Arabia said that it was able to shoot down the missiles claiming that the Houthis real goal was to hit Mecca.
CNN reported that on 1 October 2017, a US MQ-9 Reaper drone was shot down north of Sanaa, the Houthi-controlled Defense Ministry said that it had "downed" the drone. Also, sometime in late 2017, in a gradual escalation of U.S. military action, a group of U.S. Army commandos arrived to seek and destroy Houthi missiles near the Saudi Arabian border. In public statements, the U.S. government has tried to keep secret the extent of its involvement in the conflict since the Houthis pose no direct threat to America.
CNN reported that on 16 October 2017, the US carried out its first airstrikes specifically targeting ISIS-YP, the strikes targeted two ISIS training camps in Al Bayda Governorate. A US Defense official told CNN that there were an estimated 50 fighters at the camps, the Pentagon said in a statement that the camps’ purpose was to "train militants to conduct terror attacks using AK-47s, machine guns, rocket-propelled grenade launchers and endurance training." strikes disrupted the organization's attempts to train new fighters; the strikes were carried out in cooperation with the government of Yemen.
On 4 December 2017, Saleh was attacked and later killed by Houthi fighters while trying to flee Sanaa. Shortly after his death, Saleh's son, Ahmed Saleh, called for Saleh's forces to split from the Houthis.
On 7 December 2017, troops loyal to Hadi captured the strategic coastal town of Al-Khawkhah in western Yemen (115 km south of Al Hudaydah) from the Houthis. It was the first time in 3 years forces loyal to Hadi had entered the Al Hudaydah Governorate.
On 16 December 2017, troops loyal to Hadi captured the cities of Beihan and Usaylan, officially ending Houthi presence in any major city that is a part of the Shabwah Governorate.
The Saudi-led coalition placed the number of enemy fighters killed at 11,000 as of December 2017.
The southern separatists represented by the Southern Transitional Council were backing the Hadi government against the Houthis, but tensions erupted in January 2018 with the separatists accusing the government of corruption and discrimination. Gun battles erupted in Aden on 28 January 2018 after the deadline set by the separatists for Hadi to dismiss his cabinet elapsed. Pro-STC forces seized a number of government offices, including the Hadi government's headquarters. By 30 January, the STC had taken control of most of the city.
On 3 March 2018, fighting between Yemen's Houthi Ansarullah movement and Saudi-backed troops left over 55 people dead in the Nihm District in Yemen's north, with many more wounded; on the same day, fighting between the opposing groups killed at least 25 people along the western coast of Yemen. Also in early March 2018, Houthi fighters killed 4 Saudi "sharpshooters" in retaliation for Saudi Arabia's numerous attacks on Yemen.
On 8 March 2018, the Saudi-led coalition conducted airstrikes across Yemen that left 9 Yemeni civilians (including women and children) dead. The following day, Houthi rebels launched an attack on a military site in Jizan.
On 2 April 2018, the Saudi-led coalition bombed a residential housing area in Al Hudaydah, killing at least 14 civilians and wounding 9.
On 7 April 2018, according to pro-Houthi Shiite News, dozens of Sudanese troops were ambushed and killed by Houthis which led to calls for Sudan to stop fighting in the war in Yemen.
On 9 April 2018, another series of airstrikes by Saudi Arabia killed at least 22 civilians in Yemen, with more injured.
On 12 April 2018, Saudi Arabia bombed the set of a TV series in western Yemen, killing 2 people.
On 16 April 2018, a series of airstrikes by Saudi Arabia hit Yemen, which left at least 6 civilians (including at least one child) dead, with several others wounded.
On 19 April 2018, another series of Saudi killed at least 5 civilians and injured several others. In response to Saudi Arabia's aggression against Yemen, Houthi forces hit a "mercenary camp" in Saudi Arabia with artillery and rocket fire (which killed and wounded some people at the mercenary camp), targeted a power plant in the Najran region of Saudi Arabia, and targeted an airport in Jizan. Saudi Arabia later carried out a series of airstrikes in northwestern Sa'ada that destroyed three houses, as well as an aerial attack in southwestern Yemen that left 20 people dead. The same day, 2 leaders of Al-Qaeda in Yemen were killed on Thursday after a security raid was carried out by Yemeni forces in the province of Abyan. The security sources said that the leaders of al-Qaeda in Yemen, Murad Abdullah Mohammed al-Doubli, nicknamed "Abu Hamza al-Batani" and Hassan Baasrei were killed after a raid by security forces in the Al-Qaeda stronghold. Also known as Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula or AQAP, Al-Qaeda are primarily active in Yemen. The U.S government believes AQAP to be the most dangerous al-Qaeda brands.
On 22 April 2018, the Saudi-led coalition carried out airstrikes on a wedding in Hajjah, a town in northwestern Yemen; the airstrikes left at least 33 people dead and 41 wounded. The attack consisted of two missiles that hit several minutes apart. Most of the people killed were women (including the bride at the wedding) and children. Ambulances were not able to get to the site of the attack at first, because, as jets were continuing to fly overhead after the attack, there were concerns about further airstrikes.
Houthi media outlets announced on 23 April 2018 that a Houthi political leader had been killed in an airstrike by the Saudi-led coalition the previous week. Additionally, an aerial attack by Saudi Arabia in Hajjah killed 18 people and wounded 13 others, while another airstrike by the Saudi-led coalition in Saada killed at least three people and wounded two others. The same day, Yemen announced that it had fired two missiles at an oil facility in Jizan, a Saudi province near the Saudi-Yemeni border.
On 25 April 2018, Houthi forces destroyed a tank of the Saudi-led coalition on the western coast of Yemen. It was also reported by Yemen's official news agency that 13 Saudi led troops had been killed or wounded in several parts of Yemen. Later in April 2018, another series of Saudi airstrikes across a period of 24 hours killed at least eight civilians across Yemen, seven of whom were women and children. At least 10 other civilians were injured as a result of the airstrikes.
On 6 May 2018, a Yemeni ballistic missile hit Saudi military positions in Asir. Two Saudi troops were also killed by Houthi snipers in the Haskul military base in Jizan. At around the same time, Saudi Arabia was bombing various parts of northern Yemen: a Saudi bombing in Sa'ada killed five members of a family, and Saudi air raids in Hudaydah left two civilians killed. Saudi Arabia also bombed Hajjah, which ended up being bombed 10 times over a 24-hour period.
On 7 May 2018, airstrikes by the Saudi-led coalition hit Yemen's presidency building. The attack left at least 6 people dead, all of whom were civilians. 30 people were also wounded in the airstrikes.
On 8 May 2018, clashes between the Houthis and pro-Hadi forces in Taiz allegedly left dozens of Hadi militants killed, with several others wounded.
On 9 May 2018, Houthi forces fired ballistic missiles at "economic targets" in Riyadh. According to Colonel Aziz Rashed, a military spokesman for the Houthi movement, the missile attack was revenge for Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen.
On 10 May 2018, separate Saudi-led airstrikes on Yemeni residential areas killed two entire families. One of the airstrikes, which targeted a house in Sanaʽa, killed a father, mother, and two children from the same family, as well as two other civilians, in addition to wounding six people (including three children). Also on 10 May, Houthi forces claimed to have destroyed 2 Abrams tanks belonging to the Saudi Army in Jizan.
On 11 May 2018, it was reported that cluster bombs made by the United States were being used by Saudi Arabia on their airstrikes that were targeting civilians. Also on 11 May, the United Nations Human Rights office reported that April had been the deadliest month to date in 2018 in Yemen, with 236 civilian deaths and 238 civilian injuries in April alone; this was an increase from the 180 civilian casualties in March of that year.
On 14 May 2018, the Houthis fired a ballistic missile (that had been domestically manufactured) at a Saudi Aramco oil facility in Jizan. Pro-Houthi forces also shot down a Saudi reconnaissance drone in Jizan (in southwestern Saudi Arabia).
On 17 May 2018, Houthi forces fired another ballistic missile at a military base in Lahij, in southwestern Yemen, that was run by Saudi soldiers. Also on 17 May, Amnesty International said that heavy fighting near Al Hudaydah has displaced tens of thousands of people. It also warned that "the worst could be yet to come," as Saudi-backed militants were advancing towards the Houthi-controlled area. Amnesty International also said that clashes along the western coast of Yemen had displaced around 100,000 people in recent months, with most people from Al Hudaydah Governorate. It added that it was "a glimpse of what potentially lies in store on a wider scale if the fighting encroaches on the densely populated port city."
On 18 May 2018, another Houthi missile was fired into Jizan, in southwestern Saudi Arabia. The missile was reported to have struck Jazan Economic City. Also on 18 May, over a dozen Saudi soldiers were killed and injured by Houthi snipers and their allies.
On 21 May 2018, Houthi forces fired a ballistic missile targeting Jizan Airport. Also on 21 May, the Saudi-led coalition launched 11 airstrikes on the Kitaf district of Saada, in northern Yemen. Saudi rockets and artillery shells also hit several border areas, which inflicted heavy casualties on houses and farms of citizens. Further, on the night of 21 May, clashes were reported to have started between forces of the UAE and Qatar in the Taiz province of Yemen.
On 22 May 2018, 10 Saudi soldiers and five Saudi commanders were allegedly killed in an attempt to restore a series of mountains in Jizan.
On 24 May 2018, it was reported that a Houthi missile targeted a Saudi port in Jizan.
On 25 May 2018, Yemeni forces fired a ballistic missile at a Saudi military camp in Najran. It was also reported on 25 May that airstrikes by the Saudi-led coalition killed 7 civilians, in addition to injuring some other civilians, in the Taiz and Saada provinces of Yemen.
On 26 May 2018, Houthi forces announced that military drones had bombarded a Saudi airport in Asir for the second time in over a month. The attack led to the suspension of flights to and from the airport. Also on 26 May, a Saudi bulldozer near the Alab border crossing was destroyed by Houthi artillery fire. Further, also on that day, eight airstrikes by the Saudi-led coalition hit Al Hudaydah Governorate, while another airstrike by the Saudi-led coalition on a gas station in Sanaʽa killed at least four people and wounded at least 10 others. Also towards the end of May 2018, dozens of pro-Hadi troops were killed and injured along Yemen's western coast.
On 28 May 2018, a Saudi commander was killed in Jizan, and a military vehicle with troops in Najran was destroyed.
On 30 May 2018, Houthi air forces downed a spy plane in Asir. Also on 30 May, Houthi fighters destroyed Saudi military vehicles.
In late May 2018, pro-Hadi troops prepared to launch a siege on Hudaydah. Colonel Sadiq Duwaid of the pro-Hadi forces stated, "First, we will cut off supply lines, especially between [the capital] Sanaʽa and Hudaydah, then we will place the Houthis under siege." The spokesperson of the United Nations Secretary-General warned that "increased fighting would unleash even more internally displaced people," and Amnesty International warned that fighting near the port of Hudaydah had already displaced tens of thousands of people. It also warned against clashes spreading to urban areas.
On 1 June 2018, Houthi forces shot down a Saudi helicopter gunship of the Saudi army in an attack that killed all those on board. Also on 1 June, the spokesman for the pro-Houthi forces warned the United Arab Emirates that Abu Dhabi was no longer safe from retaliatory missiles.
On 4 June 2018, the leader of Houthi movement claimed that Israeli warplanes had been detected flying over Hudaydah. On the same day, Yemen's Red Sea Ports Corporation said that a vessel used by the United Nation's World Food Programme was attacked after it delivered a shipment in Hudaydah, which is under a blockade by the Saudi-led coalition. Mark Lowcock, the United Nations OCHA aid chief, said that no one was injured, but criticized anyone who was attempting to disrupt aid delivery in Hudaydah. The suspect was not known at the time.
On 8 and 9 June 2018, heavy fighting began in al-Durayhmi and Bayt al-Faqih, 10 and 35 kilometers from the port city of al-Hudaydah, respectively. The United Nations warned that a military attack or a siege on the city could cost up to 250,000 lives.
On 10 June 2018, it was reported that the United Nations had withdrawn from Hudaydah. Also on 10 June, it was reported that so far, 600 people had died in recent days as the battle intensified. Further, also on 10 June, Al Jazeera published an article containing reports of alleged torture in Houthi prisons in Yemen.
On 12 June 2018, it was reported that an airstrike by the Saudi-led coalition hit a Doctors Without Borders building. This was despite markings on the roof of the building identifying it as a building of health care and despite the fact that its coordinates had been shared with the coalition. No one was hurt in the attack, but the newly constructed building suffered significant damage.
On 4 July 2018, a United Nations report stated that over 121,000 Yemenis had fled Hudaydah due to the attack on the port city by the Saudi-led coalition.
On 6 July 2018, Houthi forces fired a domestic ballistic missile at a "strategic economic target" in Jizan in southwestern Saudi Arabia.
On 9 August 2018, a Saudi airstrike on a school bus in a crowded market in Dahyan killed 40 young school children and 11 adults. The 227 kg (500 lb) laser-guided Mk 82 bomb used in the attack was made by Lockheed Martin and purchased by Saudi Arabia from the US.
On 13 December 2018, a truce was called in Hudaydah, a port city in Yemen. Warring parties agreed to have a ceasefire in the crucial place, which is a lifeline for half the country. The Houthis agreed to have all forces withdraw from Hudaydah in the following days, same as those from the Yemeni government alliance who were fighting them there, both being replaced by United Nations-designated "local troops".
Major wars, 10,000 or more deaths in current or past year
On 8 January 2019, the Council on Foreign Relations listed this conflict as a conflict to watch during 2019. Similarly, the Italian Institute for International Political Studies also claimed it to be a conflict to watch in 2019.
Sporadic exchanges of fire and other ceasefire violations have been reported between Houthi forces and coalition troops around Hudaydah in January.
An explosion in a warehouse on 7 April 2019, in Sanaa, have killed at least 11 civilians, including school children and left more than 39 people wounded. The Associated Press news agency said 13 were killed, including 7 children, and more than 100 were wounded. According to Al Jazeera and Houthi officials, the civilians were killed in a Saudi-led coalition airstrike. The Saudi-led coalition denied any airstrikes took place that day on Sanaa. The state-run news agency in Aden, aligned with the internationally recognized government, said the rebels had stored weapons at the warehouse. According to The Washington Post, "some families and residents of the district of Sawan said the explosion occurred after a fire erupted inside the warehouse. They said a fire sent columns of white smoke rising into the air, followed by the explosion." Their accounts were confirmed by several videos filmed by bystanders.
On 25 June 2019, Saudi special forces announced that they captured the leader of the ISIL-YP, Abu Osama al-Muhajer, on 3 June along with other members including the chief financial officer of the organization.
In June 2019, the United Arab Emirates began scaling back its military presence in Yemen, amidst the soaring US-Iran tensions closer to home. According to four western diplomats, the key member of the Saudi-led coalition fighting in Yemen, UAE pulled out troops from the southern port of Aden and its western coast. One of the sources stated that “a lot” of forces have been withdrawn in three weeks.
In July 2019, the United Arab Emirates announced the partial withdrawal of its troops from Yemen, amid tensions with Iran on the Persian Gulf.
On August 26, 2019, Houthi rebels fired a total of 10 Badr-1 ballistic missiles at the Jizan airport in southwest Saudi Arabia. The retaliatory attack led to dozens of killings and injuries. Riyadh claimed that it had intercepted six out of 10 missiles fired from Yemen.
On August 29, 2019, the Yemeni government alleged that the United Arab Emirates conducted airstrikes over the forces heading to the southern port city of Aden to fight the UAE-backed separatists. A Yemeni commander, Col. Mohamed al-Oban stated that the airstrikes killed at least 30 troops.
On August 30, 2019, Islamic State took responsibility for a suicide bomb attack in the Yemeni port of Aden, which was carried out by a militant on a motorcycle. The attack reportedly killed six southern separatist fighters.
On September 1, 2019, the Saudi-led coalition fighting Houthi rebels in Yemen launched several airstrikes on a university being used as a detention center in a southwestern province. Initially, 60 fatalities were reported. However, officials and rebels later confirmed that at least 70 people died in the airstrikes in Dhamar, making it the deadliest attack of the year by the coalition.
On September 8, 2019, the Arab coalition including Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates urged separatists and President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi's government to halt all military actions in south Yemen. The two Gulf nations asked them to prepare for “constructive dialogue” to end the crisis between the two nominal allies.
On September 24, 2019, 16 people including seven children were killed by a Saudi attack in Dhalea province.
In September 2019, Saudi Arabia agreed to a cease-fire in several areas of Yemen, including the capital of Sana’a which is controlled by Iranian-backed Houthi rebels. This was part of broader efforts to end a four-year conflict that has threatened to escalate into regional war. The UN Special Envoy for Yemen believed this ceasefire was a positive sign in the progression of the peace process started with the Stockholm agreement. This was followed by an agreement to share power between the Southern Transition Council (STC) and the Republic of Yemen Government (ROYG) in October, further advancing the effort to broker a lasting peace.
On October 29, 2019, Yemeni officials reported that a large explosion hit the convoy of the internationally recognized government's defense minister. Mohammed Al-Maqdishi was inside a complex of buildings used as the ministry's interim headquarters in Marib province. However, he survived the attack.
On 13 November 2019, Oman became the mediator between Saudi Arabia and the Houthi rebels. The country between the two conflicting nations held indirect, behind-the-scenes talks to end the ongoing war of five years in Yemen.
On 29 December 2019, a missile-attack by Houthis in Yemen struck a military parade in southern separatist-controlled town of al-Dhalea, which killed at least five people and wounded others, Yemen's Security Belt forces said. On the same day, the Houthi rebels listed locations on their strike targets, which included six “sensitive” sites in Saudi Arabia and three in the United Arab Emirates.
On September 27, 2019, Kuwait reiterated its willingness to host the parties involved in the Yemen war for another round of peace talks, in order to seek a political solution to the prolonged crisis. Kuwait had also hosted the Yemen peace talks for three months in April 2016. However, the negotiations broke down in August, after they failed to yield a deal between the parties involved in the war.
On 7 January 2020, Houthi rebels shot down a drone belonging to the Saudi-led coalition, in the northeastern province of Jawf.
On 18 January 2020, a missile attack on a military training camp in the central province of Ma'rib killed at least 111 soldiers, while dozens were wounded. Yemeni government blamed Houthi rebels for the attack, as there was no claim of responsibility. The strike targeted a mosque as people met for prayer, military references reported Reuters.
On January 29, 2020, Houthi rebels said they carried out missile and drones attacks on Saudi Aramco in the kingdom's southern Jazan province. However, Saudi oil authorities claimed that the missiles were intercepted.
On 31 January 2020, armed forces spokesman Gen. Yahya Sarea announced that Houthi forces managed to liberate roughly 2,500 km2 of territory including the city of Naham, and parts of the governorates of Al-Jawf and Marib, from Saudi-led forces. The coalition forces immediately denied this claim, claiming victory and progress in these areas.“In the Nahm district, east of the capital Sanaa, the National Army managed to regain control of a number of Houthi-controlled areas,” Majli said.
On February 15, a Saudi fighter jet crashed in Yemen and the Houthi rebels took responsibility of the attack. The next day, the Saudi-led coalition launched airstrikes, targeting Yemen’s northern Al-Jawf province and killed 31 civilians.
CNN reported on 8 April 2015 that almost 10,160,000 Yemenis were deprived of water, food, and electricity as a result of the conflict. The report also added per sources from UNICEF officials in Yemen that within 15 days, some 100,000 people across the country were dislocated, while Oxfam said that more than 10 million Yemenis did not have enough food to eat, in addition to 850,000 half-starved children. Over 13 million civilians were without access to clean water.
A medical aid boat brought 2.5 tonnes of medicine to Aden on 8 April 2015. A UNICEF plane loaded with 16 tonnes of supplies landed in Sanaʽa on 10 April. The United Nations announced on 19 April 2015 that Saudi Arabia promised to provide $273.7 million in emergency humanitarian aid to Yemen. The UN appealed for the aid, saying 7.5 million people had been affected by the conflict and many were in need of medical supplies, potable water, food, shelter, and other forms of support.
On 12 May 2015, Oxfam warned that the five days a humanitarian ceasefire was scheduled to last would not be sufficient to fully address Yemen's humanitarian crisis. It has also been said that the Houthis are collecting a war tax on goods. The political analyst Abdulghani al-Iryani affirmed that this tax is: "an illegal levy, mostly extortion that is not determined by law and the amount is at the discretion of the field commanders".
As the war dragged on through the summer and into the fall, things were made far worse when Cyclone Chapala, the equivalent of a category 2 Hurricane, made landfall on 3 November 2015. According to the NGOSave the Children, the destruction of healthcare facilities and a healthcare system on the brink of collapse as a result of the war will cause an estimated 10,000 preventable child deaths annually. Some 1,219 children have died as a direct result of the conflict thus far. Edward Santiago, the NGO's Yemen director, asserted in December 2016:
Even before the war tens of thousands of Yemeni children were dying of preventable causes. But now, the situation is much worse and an estimated 1,000 children are dying every week from preventable killers like diarrhoea, malnutrition and respiratory tract infections.
In March 2017, the World Food Program reported that while Yemen was not yet in a full-blown famine, 60% of Yemenis, or 17 million people, were in "crisis" or "emergency" food situations.
In June 2017 a cholera epidemic resurfaced which was reported to be killing a person an hour in Yemen by mid June. News reports in mid June stated that there had been 124,000 cases and 900 deaths and that 20 of the 22 provinces in Yemen were affected at that time.UNICEF and WHO estimated that, by 24 June 2017, the total cases in the country exceeded 200,000, with 1,300 deaths. 77.7% of cholera cases (339,061 of 436,625) and 80.7% of deaths from cholera (1,545 of 1,915) occurred in Houthi-controlled governorates, compared to 15.4% of cases and 10.4% of deaths in government-controlled governorates, since Houthi-controlled areas have been disproportionately affected by the conflict, which has created conditions conducive to the spread of cholera.
On 7 June 2018, it was reported that the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) had pulled 71 of its international staff out of Yemen, and moved the rest of them to Djibouti, with some 450 ICRC employees remaining in the country. The partial evacuation measure came on the eve of an ICRC worker, a Lebanese national, being killed on 21 April by unknown gunmen in the southwestern city of Taiz. The ICRC stated "our current activities have been blocked, threatened and directly targeted in recent weeks, and we see a vigorous attempt to instrumentalise our organisation as a pawn in the conflict." In light of the serious security deterioration for ICRC personnel, the international organisation has called for all parties of the conflict "to provide it with concrete, solid and actionable guarantees so that it can continue working in Yemen." Since the beginning of the conflict, more than 10,000 people have been killed and at least 40,000 wounded, mostly from air raids.
The International Rescue Committee stated in March that at least 9.8 million people in Yemen were acutely in need of health services. The closure of Sanaʽa and Riyan airports for civilian flights and the limited operation of civilian airplanes in government-held areas, made it impossible for most to seek medical treatment abroad. The cost of tickets provided by Yemenia, Air Djibouti and Queen Bilqis Airways, also put traveling outside Yemen out of reach for many.
The United Nations Development Programme published a report in September 2019 that said if the war continues, Yemen will become the poorest country in the world, with 79% of the population living below the poverty line and 65% in extreme poverty by 2022.
On December 3, the International Day of Person's with Disabilities, Amnesty International released a report highlighting how the almost 5-year old Yemen war has left millions of people living with disabilities and excluded from medical attention. The armed conflict led by Saudi Arabia and UAE as part of the former's coalition in the Arab nation against Houthis and terror groups, has given birth to the worst humanitarian crisis, as stated by the United Nations.
Humanitarian aid provided to Houthi-controlled Yemen will be scaled-down in March 2020 because donors doubt if its actually reaching to the people in need, UN official said.
War crime accusations
Destroyed house in the south of Sanaa, 13 June 2015
According to Farea Al-Muslim, direct war crimes have been committed during the conflict; for example, an IDP camp was hit by a Saudi airstrike, while Houthis have sometimes prevented aid workers from giving aid. The UN and several major human rights groups discussed the possibility that war crimes may have been committed by Saudi Arabia during the air campaign.
Human Rights Watch (HRW) wrote that the Saudi-led air campaign that began on 26 March 2015, had "conducted airstrikes in apparent violation of the laws of war, such as the March 30 attack on a displaced persons camp in Mazraq, northern Yemen, that struck a medical facility and a market". HRW also said that the Houthis had "unlawfully deployed forces in densely populated areas and used excessive force against peaceful protesters and journalists". In addition, HRW said that by providing logistical and intelligence assistance to coalition forces, "the United States may have become a party to the conflict, creating obligations under the laws of war". Other incidents noted by HRW that had been deemed as "indiscriminate or disproportionate" or "in violation of the laws of war" were: a strike on a dairy factory outside the Red Sea port of Hodaida (31 civilian deaths); a strike that destroyed a humanitarian aid warehouse of the international aid organization Oxfam in Saada; the Saudi Arabia-led coalition's blockade of Yemen which kept out fuel desperately needed for the Yemeni population's survival.
Amnesty International said that several Saudi Arabian-led airstrikes, documented by it, hit five densely populated areas (Sa'dah, Sanaʽa, Hodeidah, Hajjah and Ibb), and "raise concerns about compliance with the rules of international humanitarian law". Amnesty International added, that according to its research, at least 139 people, including at least 97 civilians (33 of whom were children) were killed during these strikes, and 460 individuals were injured (at least 157 whom were civilians). HRW also said that pro-Houthi fighters may have committed war crimes when two women were killed in Yemen and aid workers were arrested for two weeks.
U.N. Humanitarian Coordinator for Yemen, Johannes van der Klaauw, said that air strikes by the Saudi-led coalition on Sa'ada city in Yemen, where many civilians were trapped, were in breach of international humanitarian law, despite calls for civilians to leave the area. Scores of civilians were reportedly killed and thousands forced to flee their homes after the Saudi-led coalition declared the entire governorate a military target, he said. Van der Klaauw also said that coalition strikes had targeted schools and hospitals, in breach of international law,
Yemeni capital Sanaa after airstrikes, 9 October 2015
A group of 17 aid agencies working in Yemen condemned the growing intensity of airstrikes in the north of Yemen on 8 and 9 May 2015. Save the Children's Country Director in Yemen, Edward Santiago, said that the "indiscriminate attacks after the dropping of leaflets urging civilians to leave Sa'ada raises concerns about the possible pattern being established in breach of International Humanitarian Law". Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Monitor has claimed that Houthi militias in alliance with the militants of exiled former president Ali Abdullah Saleh killed purposely at least 22 civilians in Taiz. According to eyewitnesses, the militants launched Katyusha rockets targeting the markets and residential neighborhoods in the center of Taiz. As a result, many civilians were killed and wounded. On the other hand, local media belonging to Houthi militias have denied such accusation, accusing Saudi and ISIL for committing these attacks.
In December 2015, HRW claimed that six "unlawful airstrikes" were carried out in the capital by the Saudi-led coalition in September and October, which killed 60 civilians. They also criticized the United States, a party to the conflict, for refusing to investigate the attacks. In January 2016, local sources in the Yemeni capital of Sanaʽa reported that a Saudi-led coalition airstrike targeted the Noor Center for the Blind. On 8 October 2016, a Saudi-led airstrike on a funeral ceremony that killed roughly 100 people and injured 500, including children. HRW is calling the attack an apparent war crime.
In November 2017, U.S. Senator Chris Murphy accused the United States of complicity in war crimes and the humanitarian crisis on the Senate floor, stating "there is a humanitarian catastrophe inside this country – that very few people in this nation can locate on a map – of absolutely epic proportion. This humanitarian catastrophe – this famine … is caused, in part, by the actions of the United States of America." In August 2018 the headline of article on Foreign Policy magazine was "America in committing war crimes in Yemen and it doesn't even know why." British researcher Alex de Waal has found that the "responsibility for Yemen goes beyond Riyadh and Abu Dhabi to London and Washington. Britain has sold at least £4.5 billion in arms to Saudi Arabia and £500 million to the UAE since the war began. The US role is even bigger: Trump authorized arms sales to the Saudis worth $110 billion last May. Yemen will be the defining famine crime of this generation, perhaps this century." In July 2017, and after a challenge mounted by human rights campaigners against ministers who the campaigners accused of "acting illegally by not suspending weapons sales to Saudi Arabia, the UK High Court ruled that the government arms sales were lawful."
On 28 August 2018, at a Pentagon news conference in Washington, US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said that the US would continue to support the Saudi-led coalition. In spite of a commitment by Saudi that "everything humanly possible" would be done and no damage to innocent lives would be caused, the increased civilian casualties in Yemen war remain unexplained.UN's first report after the coalition claims this to be the world's worst humanitarian crisis, where more than 10,000 have been killed. The report also claims that the governments of Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Yemen, may be responsible for war crimes, such as rape, torture and use of child soldiers.
In July 2019, a large shipment of Australian-built remote weapons systems were exported from Sydney airport. The Guardian reported that the shipment was purchased by the governments of Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates. In August 2019, human rights groups urged Australia to suspend the arms sales to the two countries that have been “waging the bloody war in Yemen”. The United Nations confirmed deaths and injuries of 17,700 civilians, in addition to the increasing humanitarian crisis and displacements.
On August 3, 2019, the United Nations investigators said the US, UK and France may potentially be complicit in committing war crimes in Yemen by selling weapons to the Saudi-led coalition which is deliberately using starvation against the civilian population as a tactic of warfare.
On October 7, 2019, Yemeni health officials said an explosive device blasted in Wadi Nakhla, Hudaydah, killing at least four children, and wounding two others. The officials blamed Houthi rebels for the blast.
In February 2019, an exclusive investigation led by CNN reported the violation of the US arms agreement with the UAE and Saudi Arabia. According to the report, Saudi Arabia and its coalition partners, including UAE, transferred US-made weapons to fighters associated to extremist and terrorist groups like al Qaeda, Salafi militias, and other extremist factions fighting in Yemen, violating Saudi-led coalition's agreement with the United States.
In February 2020, British law firm, Stoke White appealed the authorities in Britain, the U.S. and Turkey to arrest senior officials from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) for allegedly carrying out acts of war crimes and torture in Yemen. The complaints were lodged under the provision of ‘universal jurisdiction’, wherein the nations must probe breaches of the Geneva Convention for possible war crimes.
In March 2020, the Saudi military forces fighting insurgents and Houthi rebel groups in the Yemeni civil war, was accused of carrying out abuse of Yemeni civilians in the country’s remote eastern province, al-Mahrah. The Saudi-backed Yemeni forces and Saudi’s own military forces have been accused by the Human Rights Watch of carrying out serious abuse of human rights in the proxy war ongoing since the 2015, by arbitrarily arresting, torturing, and illegally transferring detainees to the kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
According to Asyam Hafizh, an Indonesian student who was studying in Yemen, Al-Qaeda of Yemen has rescued at least 89 Indonesian civilians which trapped in the conflict. Later on he arrived in Indonesia and he told his story to local Media.United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) reported in August 2015 that a total of almost 100,000 people fled Yemen, especially to regional countries, like Saudi Arabia and Djibouti. In September 2016, UNHCR estimated displacement of 2.4 million Yemenis within the country and 120,000 seeking asylum.
According to the International Organisation for Migration, despite the dangerous situation, nearly 150,000 migrants from Ethiopia arrived in Yemen in 2018, most of whom were on their way to Saudi Arabia in search of employment.
In October 2019, Kuwait donated $12 million to the UNHCR to support its humanitarian programs in Yemen. Salvatore Lombardo, Chief of Staff at office of the UNHCR, said that the donation will be allocated to address the issues of Yemen's internally displaced persons (IDPs).
The Indian government responded by deploying ships and planes to Yemen to evacuate stranded Indians. India began evacuating its citizens on 2 April by sea. An air evacuation of Indian nationals from Sanaʽa to Djibouti started on 3 April, after the Indian government obtained permission to land two Airbus A320s at the airport. The Indian Armed Forces carried out rescue operation codenamed Operation Raahat and evacuated more than 4640 overseas Indians in Yemen along with 960 foreign nationals of 41 countries. The air evacuation ended on 9 April 2015 while the evacuation by sea ended on 11 April 2015. The United States has assets in the region, but through its Yemen diplomatic mission website, instructed its citizens to evacuate using Indian assistance.
A Chinese missile frigate docked in Aden on 29 March to evacuate Chinese nationals from Yemen. The ship reportedly deployed soldiers ashore on 2 April to guard the evacuation of civilians from the city. Hundreds of Chinese and other foreign nationals were safely evacuated aboard the frigate in the first operation of its kind carried out by the Chinese military. The Philippines announced that 240 Filipinos were evacuated across the Saudi border to Jizan, before boarding flights to Riyadh and then to Manila.
The Ethiopian Foreign Ministry said it would airlift its citizens out of Yemen if they requested to be evacuated. There were reportedly more than 50,000 Ethiopian nationals living and working in Yemen at the outbreak of hostilities. More than 3,000 Ethiopians registered to evacuate from Yemen, and as of 17 April, the Ethiopian Foreign Ministry had confirmed 200 evacuees to date.
Throughout April, Russian military forces evacuated more than 1,000 people of various nationalities, including Russian citizens, to the Chkalovsky Airport, a military air base.
Yemeni refugee female and children are extremely susceptible to smuggling and human trafficking. NGOs report that vulnerable populations in Yemen were at increased risk for human trafficking in 2015 because of ongoing armed conflict, civil unrest, and lawlessness. Migrant workers from the Somalia who remained in Yemen during this period suffered from increased violence, and women and children became most vulnerable to human trafficking. Prostitution on women and child sex workers is a social issue in Yemen. Citizens of other gulf states are beginning to be drawn into the sex tourism industry. The poorest people in Yemen work locally and children are commonly sold as sex slaves abroad. While this issue is worsening, the plight of Somali's in Yemen has been ignored by the government.
Children are recruited between the ages of 13 and 17, and as young as 10 years old into armed forces despite a law against it in 1991. The rate of militant recruitment in Yemen increases exponentially. According to an international organization, between 26 March and 24 April 2015, armed groups recruited at least 140 children. According to the New York Times report, 1.8 million children in Yemen are extremely subject to malnutrition in 2018.
Both the Saudi-led coalition and the Houthis were blacklisted by the UN over the deaths of children during the war. In 2016 Saudi Arabia was removed from the list after alleged pressure from Gulf countries who threatened to withdraw hundreds of millions of dollars in assistance to the UN, the decision was criticized by human rights groups and the coalition added again in 2017 and was accused of killing or injuring 683 children, and attacking many of schools and hospitals in 38 confirmed attacks, while the Houthis were accused of being responsible for 414 child casualties in 2016.
In mid-May 2019, a series of Saudi/Emirati-led airstrikes hit Houthi targets on the outskirts of Sana’a. One of the airstrikes destroyed several homes, killing five civilians and injuring more than 30. According to the Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project, while 4,800 of about 7,000 civilian fatalities have been caused by the Saudi-led coalition since 2016, the Houthis are accountable for 1,300 civilian deaths.
According to UNICEF, two million children have dropped out of school in Yemen since the conflict began in March 2015. The education of other 3.7 million children is uncertain as the teachers have not received salaries in the last two years.
On October 9, 2019, children's advocacy group, Save the Children warned of a significant rise in cholera cases in northern Yemen. The crisis caused by increase in fuel shortages has affected several thousand children and their families.
Between October 2016 and August 2019, over 2,036,960 suspected cholera cases were reported in Yemen, including 3,716 related deaths (fatality rate of 0.18%).
The seasonal flu virus in Yemen has claimed more than 270 lives since October 2019. Poor medical facilities and widespread poverty in Yemen due to the war waged by Saudi-led coalition and Houthis have led to the deaths of many infected patients in their homes.
The civil war in Yemen severely impacted and degraded the country's education system. The number of children who are out of school increased to 1.8 million in 2015–2016 out of more than 5 million registered students, according to the 2013 statistics released by the Ministry of Education. Moreover, 3600 schools are directly affected; 68 schools are occupied by armed groups, 248 schools have severe structural damage, and 270 are used to house refugees. The Yemen government has not been able to improve this situation due to limited authority and manpower.
Some of the education system's problems include: not enough financial resources to operate schools and salaries of the teachers, not enough materials to reconstruct damaged schools, and lack of machinery to print textbooks and provide school supplies. These are caused by the unstable government that cannot offer enough financial support since many schools are either damaged or used for other purposes.
Due to warfare and destruction of schools, the education ministry, fortunately, was able to send teams to oversee primary and secondary schools' final exam in order to give students 15–16 school year certificates. Currently, UNICEF is raising money to support students and fix schools damaged by armed conflicts.
The Yemeni quality of life is affected by the civil war and people have suffered enormous hardships. Although mines are banned by the government, Houthi forces placed anti-personnel mines in many parts of Yemen including Aden. Thousands of civilians are injured when they accidentally step on mines; many lose their legs and injure their eyes. It is estimated that more than 500,000 mines have been laid by Houthi forces during the conflict. The pro-Hadi Yemen Army was able to remove 300,000 Houthi mines in recently captured areas, including 40,000 mines on the outskirts of Marib province, according to official sources.
In addition, the nine-country coalition led by Saudi Arabia launched many airstrikes against Houthi forces; between March 2015 and December 2018 more than 4600 civilians have been killed and much of the civilian infrastructure for goods and food production, storage, and distribution has been destroyed. Factories have ceased production and thousands of people have lost their jobs. Due to decreased production, food, medicines, and other consumer staples have become scarce. The prices of these goods have gone up and civilians can no longer afford them for sustenance.
United Nations response
The United Nations representative Baroness Amos, Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, said on 2 April 2015 that she was "extremely concerned" about the fate of civilians trapped in fierce fighting, after aid agencies reported 519 people killed and 1,700 injured in two weeks. The UN children's agency reported 62 children killed and 30 injured and also children being recruited as soldiers.
Russia called for "humanitarian pauses" in the coalition bombing campaign, bringing the idea before the United Nations Security Council in a 4 April emergency meeting. However, Saudi Arabia's ambassador to the United Nations questioned whether humanitarian pauses would be the best way of delivering humanitarian assistance.
Jamal Benomar, the UN envoy to Yemen who brokered the deal that ended Ali Abdullah Saleh's presidency during the 2011–12 revolution, resigned on 15 April. Mauritanian diplomat Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed, formerly the head of the UN's Ebola response mission, was confirmed as the new UN Envoy to Yemen on 25 April. The Panel of Experts on Yemen mandated by the Security Council, UN submitted a 329-page report to the latter's President on 26 January 2018 denouncing the UAE, the Yemeni government and the Houthis for torturing civilians in the Yemeni conflict.
In December 2018, UN-sponsored talks between the Houthis and the Saudi-backed government were expected to start. The UN has also started using its jets to carry wounded Houthi fighters out of the Yemeni capital, Sanaa, to Oman, paving the way for planned peace talks after nearly four years of civil war.
On 4 April 2015, the International Committee of the Red Cross called for a 24-hour ceasefire to deliver aid and supplies after the Saudi-led coalition blocked three aid shipments to Yemen. On 5 April, Reuters quoted a Houthi leader as saying the group would be willing to sit down for peace talks if the airstrikes stopped and a neutral party acted as mediator. On 7 April, China added its support of a ceasefire in Yemen, following an appeal by the ICRC and Russia for a humanitarian pause.
Iranian foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif submitted four-point Yemen peace plan to United Nations. In this letter he pointed to enormous civilian casualties and destruction of civilian infrastructure. He said the only way to stop the war is to require that Yemeni parties form a national unity government without any foreign military intervention. Furthermore, since 21 April 2016, peace talks have started in Kuwait at the Bayan Palace. In June 2015, a solution to ending the Saudi intervention in Yemen sought the participation of a Yemeni delegation to the Geneva peace talks; the delegation came under attack in the Geneva peace talks.
In 10 April 2016, cease fire agreement reached in Yemen, after months of negotiation, but peace talks were suspended on 6 August.
Second Yemeni ceasefire attempt on 21 November 2016, collapsed within 48 hours.
The U.S. and U.K. have put immense pressure on Saudi Arabia following the bombing campaign in Yemen and the brutal killing of Jamal Khashoggi, a Washington Post journalist. On 30 October 2018, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said "It is time to end this conflict, replace conflict with compromise, and allow the Yemeni people to heal through peace and reconstruction." Pompeo emphasized that the Houthi rebels must stop firing missiles at Saudi and the UAE, but he also added that "subsequently, coalition airstrikes must cease in all populated areas in Yemen," aiming at Saudi Arabia. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said all the parties involved in the war need to take part in peace talks initiated by the UN within 30 days. On 10 November 2018, the U.S. announced it would no longer refuel coalition aircraft operating over Yemen. The Saudi-led coalition issued a statement confirming the decision, saying the cessation of aerial refueling was made at the request of the coalition due to improvements in their own refueling capabilities. The move was expected to have minimal impact on the Saudi effort. The U.S. still provides support for the Saudi-led intervention via weapons sales and intelligence sharing.
Many U.S. senators are upset with Trump's response on the murder of Khashoggi. The disapproval of the Trump administration's support has now taken another turn as U.S. senators advanced a motion to withdraw American support from the Saudi-led coalition fighting in Yemen. The senators voted 63–37 to take forward the bipartisan motion, giving a severe blow to Trump administration, which is in favor of Saudi Arabia.
On 13 March 2019, the U.S. Senate voted 54–46 in favor of ending U.S. support for the Saudi-led war in Yemen and calling on the President to revoke U.S. forces from the Saudi-led coalition.
In May 2019, the Senate fell short of the votes needed to override the U.S. President's veto of legislation to end U.S. support for the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen. U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense Michael Mulroy stated that US support is limited to side-by-side coaching to help mitigate civilian casualties and if the measure had passed, it would do nothing to help the people of Yemen and may only increase civilian deaths.
Armed Houthis ransacked Al Jazeera's news bureau in Sanaʽa on 27 March 2015, amid Qatar's participation in the military intervention against the group. The Qatar-based news channel condemned the attack on its bureau. On 28 March, Ali Abdullah Saleh stated neither he nor anyone in his family would run for president, despite recent campaigning by his supporters for his son Ahmed to seek the presidency. He also called on Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi to step down as president and said new elections should be held.
Rumors about Saleh's whereabouts swirled during the conflict. Foreign Minister Riyad Yassin, a Hadi loyalist, claimed on 4 April that Saleh left Yemen aboard a Russian aircraft evacuating foreign nationals from Sanaʽa International Airport. Later in the month, Saleh reportedly asked the Saudi-led coalition for a "safe exit" for himself and his family, but the request was turned down.
King Salman reshuffled the Saudi cabinet on 28 April, removing Prince Muqrin as his designated successor. The Saudi royal palace said Muqrin had asked to step down, without giving a reason, but media speculation was that Muqrin did not demonstrate sufficient support for the Saudi-led military campaign in Yemen. A spokesman for Yemen's exiled government told Reuters on 29 April that the country would officially seek membership in the Gulf Cooperation Council. Media reports have noted that the civil war has reached nearly all of Yemen, with one notable exception being the remote Indian Ocean archipelago of Socotra, where the war spread due to the South Yemeni insurgency in 2017.
On September 30, Houthi rebels released 290 Yemeni prisoners in a move, stated by the United Nations as a revival of peace process, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said.
Yemen is facing one of the world's worst Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) outbreak. The lack of governance has left Yemen without a viable water supply. Poor sanitation and the lack of clean water has had a deteriorating effect on the health of Yemenis, which is apparent through the increasing cases of cholera in Yemen since 2015. The entire country has been affected by a water shortage and the price of drinking water has more than doubled. Drinking water has become unaffordable for most Yemenis. The problem in Yemen is widespread, thus making it difficult to reduce the problem from escalating because it is hard to supply everyone on a regular basis.
The Regional Director for the Middle East and North Africa at UNICEF, Geert Cappelaere, has explained that the fuel shortages in Yemen have deepened the water and health crisis The water pumping stations in Yemen have been jeopardized as they are quickly running out of fuel and over 3 million people are dependent on these water pumps which have been established through public networks. The ICRC has been working closely with vulnerable people where the resources are limited but aim to prevent the water crisis from worsening by buying 750,000 liters of diesel to provide clean water for people living in Yemen. Already a scarce commodity, the amount of water withdrawn from wells in 2016 reached unsustainable levels. The ICRC has also been working carefully with local authorities to provide water to 330,000 people in Aden. They have also installed wells nearby Aden to provide water to the neighborhood when they are experiencing shortages of water.
Water resources have been used by both sides during the war as a tactic during the conflict. Unlike other countries in the Middle East, Yemen has no rivers to depend on for water resources. In 2017, 250,¬000 people of Taiz's total population of 654,330 were served by public water supply networks. As a result of the ongoing conflict NGO's have struggled to reach the sanitation facilities due to security issues. Since the aerial bombardment, Taiz has been left in a critical situation as the current water production is not sufficient for the population.
Water availability in Yemen has decreased. Water scarcity with an intrinsic geographical formation in highlands and limited capital to build water infrastructures and provision service caused a catastrophic water shortage in Yemen. Aquifer recharge rates are decreasing while salt water intrusion is increasing. After the civil war began in 2015, the water buckets were destroyed significantly and price of water highly increased. Storing water capacity has been demolished by war and supply chains have been occupied by military personnel, which makes the delivery of water far more difficult. In 2015, over 15 million people need healthcare and over 20 million need clean water and sanitation—an increase of 52 percent since the intervention, but the government agencies can not afford to deliver clean water to displaced Yemeni citizens.
The Yemen civil war resulted in a severe lack of food and vegetation. Agricultural production in the country has suffered substantially leaving Yemen to face the threat of famine. Yemen is currently under blockade by land, sea, and air which has disrupted the delivery of many of the country's resources. In a country where 90% of the food requirements are met through imports, this blockade has had serious consequences concerning the availability of food to its citizens. It is reported that out of the population of 24 million in Yemen, everyday 13 million are going hungry and 6 million are at risk of starvation. According to reports there is strong evidence suggesting that Yemen's already limited agricultural sector is being deliberately destroyed by warring factions, exacerbating the food shortage and leaving the country dependent solely on imports to meet the food requirements of its citizens.
^"Yemen conflict: Saudi-led strike 'hits wrong troops'". BBC News. 17 October 2015. Archived from the original on 18 October 2015. Retrieved 18 October 2015. Hundreds of Sudanese troops reportedly arrived in the southern port city of Aden on Saturday, the first batch of an expected 10,000 reinforcements for the Saudi-led coalition.