Monthly briefing-June 2023

Political scene

Tensions rise as the possibility of conflict looms on the horizon due to a significant military build-up between the Houthi group and the legitimate government. Despite efforts by the United Nations, there has been a lack of political breakthroughs adding to the crisis. Moreover, Western voices are expressing concern over the failure of dialogue between Saudi Arabia and the Houthi group. Simultaneously, the dispute between Saudi Arabia and the UAE intensifies, particularly in the eastern governorates. The situation remains highly precarious, and diplomatic efforts are essential to prevent further escalation.

  • Accompanied by a delegation of government officials, Dr. Rashad Al-Alimi, the head of the Presidential Leadership Council, made his first visit to Hadhramaut Governorate in eastern Yemen since assuming the presidency of the council in April 2022. (June 24)
  • The Emirati-backed Transitional Council announced an escalating program against the legitimate government and the local authority, in Hadhramaut Governorate, to reject the “Hadramawt National Council”, which was announced in Riyadh. (July 9).
  • The UN Security Council approved the extension of the mandate of the United Nations Mission (UNMHA) to support the Hodeidah Agreement and monitor the ceasefire, for an additional year, ending on July 15, 2024. (July 10).
  • The UN envoy to Yemen, Hans Grundberg, expressed in a session before the Security Council, his concerns about the military movements near the Ma’rib governorate and the Houthi group’s review of the fighters in the Ibb governorate. Grundberg also called on the parties to the conflict in Yemen to maintain the unannounced truce and to engage in a permanent and unannounced cessation. Conditional to being fired. (July 10).
  • A recent European investigation revealed that two United Nations investigators (investigating human rights violations in Yemen) were subjected to a targeting campaign, led by a Swiss intelligence company on behalf of the UAE, targeting both Kamel Jendoubi, the Tunisian head of the team of human rights experts in Yemen, and Ahmed Himmish, the Moroccan who works as an Investigator at the United Nations. (July 14).
  • 37 deputies in the Yemeni Parliament objected through a letter submitted to the President of the Presidential Leadership Council to the sale of 70% of the International Communications Gateway Company of Aden Net[1] to the government of Maeen Abdul Malik for a new Emirati company headquartered in Abu Dhabi. (July 18).
  • The U.S. ambassador to Yemen, Stephen Fagin, along with other officials from the U.S. embassy, arrived in Aden, the interim capital, for their second visit this year. During this visit, the ambassador held meetings with several ministers and government officials. Notably, prior to this, he had already met with important figures, including Aidarous al-Zubaidi, the head of the Transitional Council, Ahmed Lamlas, the governor of Aden, and Awad al-Wazir, the governor of Shabwa, in the UAE capital, Abu Dhabi. (July 20).
  • Sultan Al-Barakani, the Speaker of the Yemeni Parliament, declared the continuous efforts to convene regular parliamentary sessions as unsuccessful. He emphasized that the parliament remained absent and unable to exercise its will, with gatherings prohibited in government-controlled areas. (July 25).
  • The French Ministry of Foreign Affairs held the Houthi group responsible for the slow advancement of negotiations sponsored by the United Nations to end the war and reach a comprehensive and sustainable political solution in the country. (July 26).

Military scene

During this month, the Houthi group has escalated its military activities on several fronts, with a significant focus on areas, like Ma’rib, Taiz, Al-Dhalea and Al-Jawf. Particularly, there has been a notable military build-up toward the eastern region of Ma’rib. This escalation has led to a rise in casualties on the front lines. In parallel, American and Western newspapers have been discussing the failure of the dialogue between the Houthi group and Saudi Arabia, raising concerns about the potential threat of a return to armed conflict. Coinciding with these developments, the Yemeni Minister of Defense visited the Turkish capital, Ankara, where he met with the Turkish Minister of Defense.

  • In Taiz, a Houthi drone attack resulted in the death and injury of six soldiers from the National Army forces. The drone targeted a military vehicle carrying the soldiers as they were traveling in Mount Han, situated to the west of the city. (July 8).
  • The Yemeni Observatory for Landmines reported the loss of two engineers from the clearance team. They were killed in a landmine explosion, while attempting to dismantle it, along with several other mines stacked on top of each other, in the eastern part of the Saada Governorate. This incident has brought the total number of engineers killed by mines to more than 60 since the war began. Additionally, the Observatory has documented 1,884 civilian casualties resulting from mines and warheads in various governorates of the country since 2018. (July 8).
  • Lieutenant General Sagheer bin Aziz, the Chief of the General Staff and Commander of Joint Operations, officially inaugurated the buildings and facilities of the College of Aviation and Air Defense in Ma’rib Governorate. This significant event marked the end of an eight-year-plus hiatus caused by the Houthi group’s control over the college’s headquarters in the capital, Sana’a and Hodeidah. (July 17).
  • The prominent field commander of the Houthi group, Aqil al-Matari, and several of his companions were killed in armed clashes with tribal gunmen. The confrontations took place in the eastern vicinity of the city of Al-Hazm, located in the center of Al-Jawf Governorate. (July 16).
  • Al-Masdar Online monitored, from January 1, 2022J, to July 15, 2023, the funeral of 1,850 Houthi fighters. The Houthi group announced the deaths of these fighters through their affiliated channels, namely the Al-Masirah channel and the Yemeni news agency, Saba. The total number of deaths recorded since the beginning of the year 2022 until mid-July 2023 has now reached 3,937. (July 22).

Security scene

The security services in Taiz Governorate successfully apprehended the terrorist cell responsible for the assassination of the World Food Program official, an incident that garnered significant international attention. Furthermore, in separate operations, terrorist intelligence cells associated with the Houthi group were uncovered in both Taiz and Ma’rib.

  • In Al-Mahra Governorate, the security services successfully apprehended a key intelligence official of ISIS, who held Syrian nationality and operated under the alias of Abu Dania. The individual was posing as a truck driver, using a false identity while traveling through multiple countries. (July 2)
  • In Ma’rib Governorate, the security services revealed the capture of a nine-member terrorist cell with connections to Houthi leaders. This cell was responsible for planting explosive devices at the intersection of Harib District and the international line, resulting in accidents involving civilian and military vehicles. (July 3)
  • The International Organization for Migration reported that, during the first half of this year, approximately 77,000 African migrants arrived in Yemen. Tragically, more than half of them became stranded on their way to the Gulf states. (July 5)
  • In Taiz Governorate, the police arrested the individuals involved in the assassination of Moayad Hamidi, the director of the World Food Program. The incident occurred in the Al-Shamayatain District in the southern part of the governorate. Additionally, 10 other members of the gang were apprehended and have been referred for further investigation. (July 22)

Economic scene

The Yemeni economy is facing its most severe phase since the start of the crisis, with the value of the Yemeni riyal experiencing an unprecedented decline against foreign currencies. To address the economic collapse, Saudi Arabia and the UAE have imposed a series of conditions for providing a bank deposit. This comes as the flow of oil revenues has been suspended for nearly a year due to the Houthi group’s targeting of export ports in Hadhramaut and Shabwa. The situation remains challenging, and urgent measures are needed to stabilize the economy and alleviate the financial hardships faced by the people of Yemen.

  • The price of the Yemeni riyal in the governorates under the legitimate government recorded its lowest decline in years against foreign currencies. The price of $1 has exceeded 1,400 Yemeni riyals, amid local and international warnings of an imminent collapse of the national economy. (July 9).

Violations

Persistent reports, both local and international, highlight the alarming extent of violations inflicted upon citizens amidst the ongoing actions of the Houthi group and the Southern Transitional Council. These violations are taking place both inside and outside prisons, with the latest tragedy being the death of a citizen due to torture. In a deeply disturbing revelation, a mass grave was recently uncovered in Amran Governorate. The grave contained the remains of opponents of the Houthi group who were brutally eliminated over 13 years ago.

  • Following the discovery of a mass grave in Amran Governorate, which tragically held the remains of 17 prisoners from the Harf Sufyan district in the northern region, the Houthi group acknowledged their direct role in ordering the execution of these individuals during the sixth war, in 2010, and confessed to deliberately hiding their fate from their families. (July 4).
  • The Abductees’ Mothers Association expressed deep concern about the fate of 112 abductees who have been forcibly disappeared in the prisons of the Houthi group in Sana’a. Additionally, 35 individuals are forcibly abducted in the prisons of the Southern Transitional Council in the interim capital, Aden. Some of these detainees have been held for a staggering seven years without any resolution. (July 7).
  • Forces affiliated with the Southern Transitional Council admitted to detaining and torturing a deaf citizen, Muhammad Hassan Mahdi, to death, after the media circulated horrific pictures of the effects of torture on the victim a few days before his death. (July 18).
  • YouTube took action and closed down 18 channels associated with the Houthi group. These channels contained 7,000+ videos that were found to be inciting violence and promoting war. The move reflects the platform’s efforts to combat the spread of harmful content and uphold community guidelines regarding the promotion of violence and conflict. (July 18).
  • The Faculty of Mass Communication at Sana’a University is currently witnessing a strike initiated by both male and female students. Their collective action comes as a strong objection to the recent decision made by the Houthi group, which involves segregating male and female students and mandating separate study days for each gender. (July 23).

Humanitarian scene

  • According to a UN report released by the United Nations Office for Humanitarian Affairs, Yemen experienced a significant outbreak of measles during the first half of this year. The outbreak was attributed to the suspension of immunization campaigns in areas under the control of the Houthi group. The group’s active media incitement against vaccines contributed to this situation. The report indicated that 25,935 suspected measles cases were reported, with 1,406 cases being confirmed by laboratories. Tragically, the outbreak has resulted in 259 deaths across all governorates in the country. (July 22).
  • The International Organization for Migration, under the United Nations, reported that, since the beginning of 2023, 23,000 Yemenis have been displaced due to the ongoing conflict that has persisted for nine years. This displacement accounts for 3,805 families, comprising 22,830 individuals. Moreover, between July 16 and 22 of this year, 61 families, totaling 366 individuals, were newly displaced. The governorates of Taiz and Al-Hodeidah have experienced the highest rates of displacement among all the governorates. (July 24).
  • The United Nations announced the commencement of crude oil pumping from the deteriorated “Safer” reservoir, situated off Yemen’s western coast, to the replacement vessel acquired by the United Nations, named “Yemen”. This process is expected to take 19 days and aims to avert the worst disaster threatening Yemen and neighboring countries bordering the Red Sea. (July 25).
  • Forty international and local organizations emphasized that negotiations to end the conflict in Yemen must incorporate plans for post-conflict justice. They stressed the importance of a comprehensive and victim-centered approach, which includes provisions for accountability, reparations and compensation. (July 26).

General news

  • During this year’s “Al-Balda Season”, the beaches of Mukalla city experienced a significant surge in visitors due to the pleasant climate and cool sea in July, a rare occurrence that usually lasts for 21 days during the year. The event attracted visitors from various governorates of Yemen, leading to great crowding and lively activities along the coastline. (July 5)

Statistics

The Yemeni Journalists Syndicate documented 40 cases of media freedom violations during the first half of this year, distributed as follows:

The Ratio Number of Cases Violations
20% 8 Reservation of freedom
20% 8 Threats and instigation
20% 8 Inhumane treatment of detainees
17.5% 7 Legal proceedings and judicial practices
7.5% 3 Suspension of salaries
7.5% 3 Acts of aggression
5% 2 Seizure of assets
2.5% 1 Non-compliance with court rulings

 

These violations were issued by several parties, as follows:

The Ratio Number of Cases The Entity
55% 22% Houthi group
45% 18% Government agencies

(July 11)

 

The Information and Training Center for Human Rights has documented the extensive violations perpetrated by the Houthi group in the city of Taiz, which include:

  • The deaths of 4,105 civilians, including 878 children and 464 women, with 17,948 people injured, including 2,132 children and 2,660 women, from March 21, 2015, to June 30, 2023.
  • Tragic incidents involving mines resulted in the deaths of 779 civilians, including 38 children and 23 women, and injured 1,296 civilians, including 71 children and 30 women, during the same time period.
  • Four hundred and ninety-six cases of abductions, 75 cases of enforced disappearances, 897 cases of arbitrary detention, 2 cases of torture, 97 cases of assaults on civilians, and 78 violations of freedom of opinion and expression.
  • Destruction of public property, including 11 bombed buildings, 87 destroyed buildings, 62 buildings completely damaged, 379 buildings partially damaged and 29 buildings stormed and looted. Additionally, 26 public vehicles were damaged.
  • Private facilities also bore the brunt of the destruction, with 3,387 violations, 169 bombed structures, 208 destroyed facilities, 323 completely damaged structures and 1,941 partially damaged establishments.
  • Numerous incidents of break-ins and looting involving 48 homes and establishments, 511 damaged private vehicles and 187 violations of private property. These grave violations have had devastating consequences on the residents of Taiz and require urgent attention and accountability. (July 15).

[1] Aden Net is an internet company that provides 4G service to the interim capital of Aden.

Just checking that 2022 is correct and you didn’t mean to write 2023.

Again, just checking that you wanted to write 2022, and not 2023.

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