Monthly briefing-May 2023

Political scene

During the month of May, Yemen witnessed movements within three contexts. The first is related to the efforts of the international community, led by the United Nations, to discuss the peace process and end the war. The second context relates to the dialogue between Saudi Arabia and the Houthi group, which is in flux, wavering between reassurance and threat. And the third context is related to the activity of the UAE-backed Transitional Council moving toward the secession project, in conjunction with the 33rd anniversary of the establishment of Yemeni unity.

  • The Houthi group accuses the United States of America and the United Kingdom of working to thwart the ongoing peace efforts in Yemen. (May 1)
  • The French ambassador to Yemen, Jean-Marie Safa, describes the Houthis as “their own enemies”, ruling out the presence of moderates within the group because of their insistence on continuing the war and putting obstacles in the way of peace-process efforts. (May 12)
  • The U.S. Special Envoy to Yemen, Tim Linderking, accuses Iran of continuing to smuggle weapons and drugs to the Houthis and fueling the conflict that has been going on for eight years. (May 12)
  • Saudi Arabia invites political, tribal and societal components from Hadhrami, who rejects the project of the Transitional Council, to Riyadh to consult on the escalation steps taken by the Council. (May 20)
  • In its closing statement, the Arab summit — held in the Saudi city of Jeddah — ignores the affirmation of the Arab leaders’ commitment to the unity of Yemen and its territorial integrity, despite the Yemeni government’s request for that, during the preparatory meetings for the summit. (May 20)
  • Intelligence Online reveals that separatists have made intense moves in decision-making circles in the United States of America with logistical support from the United Arab Emirates to support the option of secession in Yemen. (May 21)

Security scene

The formation of a tracking cell to spy on international organizations operating in the Houthi-controlled areas, including Sana’a, represents a new development in addition to the continued smuggling of weapons and drugs, despite the truce and the recent agreement between Saudi Arabia and Iran, under Chinese auspices, and the group’s assertion of the possibility of returning to the war option.

– The U.S. Navy announces the seizure of a shipment of contraband and drugs aboard an Iranian ship containing 4,330 pounds of heroin in the international corridor of the Gulf of Oman, which is one of the most famous smuggling routes to Yemen. (May 11)

– Recorded Future, a company specializing in cybersecurity, revealed that a hacking group linked to the Houthi group is spying on international organizations, media companies and politicians in the Arabian Peninsula. (May 17)

– The Ministry of Interior seized communications equipment at a Shahn port in Mahra, which was on its way to the Houthi group. (Mahra is a shipping port linking Yemen and Oman, which is one of the most important ports in which smuggling takes place over the years.) (May 18)

– Major Ahmed Mohsen Al-Sulaimani (staff of the 1st Brigade of the Shabwa Defense of the Emirates) survived an assassination attempt by a Houthi drone while he was in a camp in Musina’a, Shabwa Governorate. (May 23)

Military scene

Despite international assurances about peace and ending the war in Yemen, the military build-up by the Houthis toward the city of Ma’rib is increasing at a high rate, with the possibility of war breaking out again at any moment, contrary to the reduction in escalation that the country was witnessing during the past few months, with the Houthi group continuing to carry out assassinations and targeting military leaders on more than one front through drones, as happened in Taiz, Shabwa, Al-Dhalea and Abyan.

– The Houthi group carried out a military campaign against a village in Al-Bayda Governorate and kidnapped young men from the region and social figures, including Sheikh Hussein Al-Khidr Al-Sawadi. (May 9)

– The Houthi group sent large military reinforcements to Ma’rib Governorate, in preparation for a new round of war. (A new speech appeared by the leader of the Houthi group, hinting at a return to war in the event that the dialogue with Saudi Arabia fails.) (May 21)

Economic scene

The General Federation of the Chamber of Commerce in Sana’a appealed to protect merchants from a comprehensive liquidation by the Houthi group, and the dollar continues to deteriorate against foreign currencies, in addition to accusing the gas company of the Houthi group of preventing the arrival of gas trailers coming from Ma’rib and relying on hidden gas and selling it to citizens at high prices and benefiting from the price differences.

– The Central Bank of Yemen announces the sale of $20 million US out of the $30 million US offered at a public auction, while the Yemeni riyal recorded its highest decline against the dollar since the announcement of the transfer of power to the Presidential Leadership Council about a year ago. (May 16)

– The Central Bank in the interim capital, Aden, warns against opening accounts in exchange facilities and depositing money in them due to the continuous collapse of the national currency against hard currencies. (May 18)

– The Yemeni Gas Company accused the Houthi group of preventing the arrival of domestic gas coming from the Ma’rib Governorate to its areas of control and replacing it with gas imported through the port of Hodeidah, which is under its control. (The government accuses the group of imposing the sale of imported gas on citizens by force and selling it at high prices, and then spending those profits for the benefit of the war.) (May 23)

– The General Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry and the Capital Municipality Chamber denounced the liquidation process practiced by the Houthi authorities against the private sector in Sana’a and its areas of control. (May 26)

Humanitarian scene

– The Health Office in Taiz announced the registration of more than 8,000 cases of dengue fever and malaria during the past four months of this year. (May 7)

– The International Organization for Migration of the United Nations announces the displacement of more than 19,000 Yemenis between January 1, 2023, and May 13, 2023, for 3,186 families, totaling 19,116 individuals, for reasons related to the conflict that has been going on in the country for eight years. (May 16)

– The Ministry of Health in the legitimate government confirmed that Yemen has received 55,000 refugees from the Horn of Africa, since the beginning of this year. (May 17)

– The United Nations has warned that the lack of funding will jeopardize the humanitarian response that saves millions of lives in Yemen and will lead to the reduction of most necessary activities and services during the next six months. (May 26)

General

– The local authority in Hadhramaut announced that it had taken over Al-Rayyan International Airport, seven years after it was closed by the Emirati forces, who turned it into a military base and a secret prison.

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