Yemeni Civil War


“We have no interest in seeing an unstable Yemen
or seeing a Yemen that is devastated.”

Adel al-Jubeir




               Yemen (Spilling into Saudi Arabia)


               5 million


               Over 10,000 since 2015

      Refugees/Displaced People:

               Approx. 3 million since 2015


               At least 100,000 Houthi rebels

               Yemen Armed Forces (Approx. 

               43,500 soldiers)

      People who are food insecure:

               17.8 million



Yemen, also known as the Republic of Yemen, lies on the southern end of the Arabian Peninsula and is no stranger to conflict. While the current Yemeni Civil War has been in full force since 2015, the country has a history of civil conflict – not the least including the 20-year war between north and south before the country was united as a Republic in 1990. The present conflict not only involves competing internal factions, but is intensified by the presence of non-state actors (namely Al Qaeda and ISIS operatives); support from competing foreign powers, and an underlying humanitarian crisis that plagues the civilian population.

                 Key Actors:

  • Supreme Revolutionary Committee led by the Houthis, a Shia rebel group. This faction is also supported by those loyal to former president Ali Abullah Saleh.
  • Iran allegedly smuggled weapons to the Houthi rebels to support them in this conflicts.
  • Forces loyal to current Yemen President, Adb Rabbuh Mansur Hadi, are fighting the Houthi-led rebels.
  • A Saudi-led coalition strongly supports the government of President Hadi, predominately through aggressive air strikes against Houthi targets – though these have notoriously resulted in substantial civilian casualties. The Saudi-led coalition includes other Gulf States such as the UAE, Bahrain and Kuwait. Jordan, Morocco, Egypt and Sudan are also supporting parties of this coalition.  Despite having logistical and intelligence support from the U.S., U.K. and France, the Saudi’s have failed to recapture the capital of Sanaa from the rebels. The coalition also has apparent divisions due to its support of the southern separatists.
  • The U.S. – Outside of its involvement in the Saudi coalition, the US has also been known to engage in drone strikes against terrorist targets within Yemeni territory.
  • Southern separatists/al Hirak – a group which has long sought independence for South Yemen, it has in recent times been a source of division within the Saudi-led coalition fighting in Yemen—the Saudis support Hadi, while the UAE supports the separatists. Despite fighting alongside each other for more than three years, on several occasions armed clashes have broken out between themselves and the government.
  • United Nations – Have failed three times to negotiate a peace deal.
  • Non-state actors –  ‘Al Qaeda in the Arab Peninsula’ (AQAP) and ISIL – also play a role in the conflict.



  • 1918 – Yemen gains independence from the Ottoman Empire
  • 1967 – Southern Yemen becomes independent from the British Empire
  • 1990 – North and south Yemen unite as the Republic of Yemen, with the city of Sanaa as the capital.
  • 1993 – First parliamentary election held post-unification.
  • 2002 – first recorded US Predator drone strike conducted, killing six. This was the first known US drone strike to take place outside of Afghanistan (which was, at that time, an active war zone).
  • 2011 – Arab Spring protests across the Middle East spark unrest and cries for change in Yemen; by November incumbent president Ali Abullah Saleh agrees to transition power to his deputy, Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi. The transition is not successful, with significant social and security problems plaguing the country.
    • A separatist movement forms in southern Yemen, spear-headed by Houthi groups who refuse to participate in the new Hadi government.
  •  2014 – The National Dialogue Conference concludes in January, to determine the new constitution. Houthi rebels take over Yemeni capital Sana’a in September, citing discrimination by new government.
    • UNSC passes Resolution 2140, beginning predominantly travel and financial sanctions on individuals/groups identified as threatening peace and security in Yemen.

2015 – present: Yemeni Civil War

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