September 2022 Monthly Forecast

Posted 31 August 2022
Download Complete Forecast: PDF
MIDDLE EAST

Yemen

Expected Council Action

In September, the Council is expected to hold its monthly briefing on Yemen in closed consultations. Special Envoy for Yemen Hans Grundberg, an OCHA official, and Major General Michael Beary, the head of the UN Mission to Support the Hodeidah Agreement (UNMHA), are the expected briefers.

Key Recent Developments

On 2 August, the parties to the conflict agreed to extend the truce in Yemen until 2 October. In announcing the renewal, Grundberg said that the parties had committed to intensifying negotiations to reach an expanded truce as soon as possible. According to Grundberg, his proposed expanded truce agreement includes creating a mechanism to pay civil servants’ salaries and pensions, opening roads in Taiz and other governorates, establishing additional international destinations from Sana’a airport, and providing for the regular flow of fuel into Hodeidah port. It would also extend the duration of the truce beyond its customary two-month time span since the start of the armistice on 2 April to give more space to negotiate a formal ceasefire, conduct talks on economic and security issues, and prepare to resume a political process for a negotiated settlement to the war.

Council members welcomed the renewal of the truce in a 4 August press statement and called on the parties urgently to intensify negotiations on the expanded truce proposal. They expressed concerns over the lack of progress on opening roads around Taiz city—which is under Houthi siege and is a key element in the original truce agreement that has not been implemented—and called on the Houthi rebel group to act with flexibility in the negotiations to open roads. While welcoming the continued reduction in violence brought on by the truce, members condemned all attacks that threaten the truce, including the 23 July attack in Taiz in which a child was killed and ten people were injured.

At the Council’s 15 August monthly briefing on Yemen, Grundberg highlighted his intention to reach an expanded truce agreement by 2 October. Despite the reduction in violence since the truce, OCHA Acting Director of Operations and Advocacy Ghada Eltahir Mudawi warned that some areas of the country continued to face the threat of famine. She also highlighted that the UN Verification and Inspection Mechanism (UNVIM) would be forced to shut down in September if it does not receive the $3.5 million it needs to operate for the rest of the year. The UNVIM has facilitated commercial shipping into Hodeidah ports since 2016. The UNVIM has been critical during the truce in supporting the increase in fuel shipments to Yemen, Mudawi said.

While the truce held, tensions heightened during August among the coalition of anti-Houthi forces, demonstrating the fragility of Yemen’s Presidential Leadership Council (PLC), which replaced President Abdo Raboo Mansour Hadi in April. On 6 August, the governor of Shabwa governorate dismissed a local military commander, Brigadier General Abd Rabbo Laakab, which angered the Islah Party, Yemen’s main Islamist party. After Yemen’s interior minister reinstated Laakab, fighting erupted on 8 August in the provincial capital of Ataq between Islah-affiliated security forces on one side and, on the other, the Shabwani Defence Forces and the Giants Brigade, reportedly supported by the United Arab Emirates (UAE) drone strikes. After four days of fighting, the Shabwani Defence Forces and the Giants Brigade took control of Ataq. Islah’s representative on the PLC, Abdullah al-Alimi, resigned but was persuaded to rescind his decision.

On 22 August, Aidarous al-Zubaidi, who is a PLC member and leads the UAE-backed separatist Southern Transitional Council (STC), announced a military operation in Abyan governorate to “cleanse [Abyan] of terrorist organisations”, including al-Qaeda, while also securing Yemen’s temporary capital of Aden against terrorist groups. PLC chairman Rashad al-Alimi issued a notice to al-Zubaidi ordering the halt of all military operations in Yemen’s south until the implementation of a troop redeployment as stipulated in the 2019 Riyadh Agreement between the Yemeni government and the STC.

Key Issues and Options

Maintaining the truce and expanding it, as the Special Envoy has proposed, is a key issue. The Houthis’ continued refusal to re-open roads in Taiz is a cause for concern, undermining confidence between the parties and the prospects for agreement on an expanded armistice framework. A further key issue is restarting a political process based on Grundberg’s multitrack framework dealing with political, security and economic issues for a negotiated settlement to the conflict. Emerging issues are the fighting and divisions among different groups that make up the PLC. Closed consultations in September could be an opportunity for Council members to have a frank discussion about Grundberg’s efforts to secure an expanded truce agreement and discuss challenges such as infighting within the anti-Houthi coalition.

The rise in global food and energy prices this year has presented a significant obstacle to efforts to ease the humanitarian crisis in Yemen, which depends on commercial imports. Key challenges to relief efforts also include funding gaps and threats against and intimidation of humanitarian workers. Members could encourage donors that have pledged humanitarian and economic financing—including Saudi Arabia and the UAE, which announced a $2 billion aid package in April—to disburse these funds. Council members could further encourage donors to fund UNVIM and fill the remaining funding requirements (approximately $16 billion) to begin implementing the UN-facilitated plan to remove oil from the moored FSO Safer oil tanker off the Ras Issa port in Hodeidah. The vessel remains at imminent risk of an oil leak or explosion that would have devastating environmental, economic and humanitarian consequences.

During September, the Yemen 2140 Sanctions Committee will meet with the Yemen Panel of Experts to consider the panel’s mid-term update, which was submitted at the end of July and is not a public document. The panel still has not been fully constituted since its mandate was extended at the end of February in resolution 2624, which renewed the Yemen sanctions regime. Of its five members, the Secretary-General had not appointed, at the time of writing, the panel’s regional expert and armed groups expert, following objections by Russia and the UAE to the proposed candidates.

Council and Wider Dynamics

Council members have encouraged the parties to uphold the truce and want to see it translated into a durable ceasefire, which could facilitate progress on a political process for a comprehensive settlement to end the war. The UAE—an elected Council member that has been closely involved in the conflict as a member of the Saudi Arabia-led coalition battling the Houthis—has a strong interest in the situation and actively pushes for its views, particularly regarding the Houthis, to be reflected in Council products. Russia traditionally resists language in Council products that it perceives as too critical of the Houthis or not balanced. This year, however, Russia has been more flexible in Council negotiations on Yemen, which appears to reflect the importance of its bilateral relations with the UAE. The US Special Envoy for Yemen, Timothy Lenderking, has coordinated closely with the UN in support of Grundberg’s efforts to advance a political process. While Saudi Arabia exercises leverage on the Yemeni government, Oman often plays an important role as an interlocutor with the Houthis. Ahead of the latest truce renewal, an Omani delegation visited Sana’a to help secure its extension.

The UK is the penholder on Yemen. Ambassador Ferit Hoxha (Albania) chairs the Yemen 2140 Sanctions Committee.

UN DOCUMENTS ON YEMEN

Security Council Resolutions
13 July 2022S/RES/2643 This renewed the mandate of UNMHA until 14 July 2023.
28 February 2022S/RES/2624 This resolution renewed the Yemen sanctions regime for one year and added the Houthis as an entity to the Yemen sanctions list, subject to the measures of the targeted arms embargo in resolution 2216.
Security Council Meeting Record
15 August 2022S/PV.9110 This was the monthly briefing on Yemen with Special Envoy Hans Grundberg and Acting Director, Operations and Advocacy Division, OCHA Ghada Mudawi.
Security Council Press Statement
4 August 2022SC/14992 This press statement welcomed the renewal of the truce in Yemen.

 

Sign up for SCR emails