Yemeni Civil War


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.


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)

Key Actors

Led by the Houthis, a Shia rebel group

This faction is also supported by those loyal to former president Ali Abullah Saleh.

Allegedly smuggled weapons to the Houthi rebels to support them in this conflicts

Adb Rabbuh Mansur Hadi, are fighting the Houthi-led rebels

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.

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.

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

Have failed three times to negotiate a peace deal


Yemen gains independence from the Ottoman Empire

Southern Yemen becomes independent from the British Empire

North and south Yemen unite as the Republic of Yemen, with the city of Sanaa as the capital

First parliamentary election held post-unification

First parliamentary election held post-second unification

  • 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.
  • 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.

Draft constitution rejected by Houthis. President Hadi and government resign in protest as Houthis takeover the capital.

Houthis declare an interim council – the ‘Revolutionary Committee’ – to replace Hadi and his government. This is condemned by the UN Security Council. Hadi flees to Aden in southern Yemen.

    • UNSC renews sanctions initiated in 2014.

ISIS carries out first major attacks in the country, involving suicide bombings in major Shi’ite mosques in the capital. 137 dead.
oAs Houthis try to seize control of the entire country, Hadi flees to Saudi Arabia.
o Saudi-led coalition (code-named Operation Decisive Storm) involvement begins, including air strikes targeting Houthi-held territory.

Hadi returns to Aden

UN-led talks between Houthi-led forces and Hadi government are initiated. Those talks collapse a month later due to lack of progress in negotiations.

Saudi-coalition bombing kills 155 during an air raid, which strikes during a funeral procession in the capital of Sana’a.

The US carries out its first air strikes targeting terrorist operatives under President Trump. Civil conflict persists, albeit with the sides largely being at a deadlock.

UNSC adopts Resolution 2343. This further extends the sanctions in place until March 2018.

Missiles are launched by Houthi forces into Saudi territory, allegedly targeting a missile at the Saudi capital, Riyadh.

Cholera epidemicbreaks out, killing over 2,000 people and impacting approximately 900,000 others.

    • UNSC releases a presidential statement condemning and calling for further action in relation to the humanitarian situation in Yemen; this being the first strong statement produced by the Council in over a year.
    • UN Under-Secretary for Humanitarian Affairs Stephen O’Brien issues a statement, noting Yemen is “on the brink of collapse” in light of the persisting humanitarian crisis.

United States’ House of Representatives votes to draw back US military intervention in Yemen, having shown support to Saudi Arabia and conducted drone strikes throughout the Yemeni conflict.

The UN announces plan to initiate an investigation into potential war crimes occurring amidst the Yemeni civil conflict.
o A $36 million dollar humanitarian aid initiative is launched by the World Bank and UN Food and Agricultural Organisation (FOA) to provide immediate assistance to the millions affected by ongoing food insecurity in Yemen.
o 29 Yemeni civilians are killed in an airstrike on a hotel near the Saudi border, with the strike allegedly conducted by Saudi forces.

The Saudi-led coalition block the supply of aid into Yemen, blockading ports and air services into key centers such as Aden and the capital Sanaa. The blockade persists for three weeks.
o ISIS claim responsibility for a suicide bombing in the port city of Aden, killing 7 and injuring 12.
o Late November: the fragile deadlock begins to splinter. Conflict between Houthi forces and Saleh supporters heightens.

Saleh is assassinated after Houthi fighters’ allegedly attacked his convoy at a military checkpoint near the capital, Sanaa.

Saudi air defenses shoot down seven ballistic missiles fired by Yemen’s Houthi militia—three of these missiles were shot down as they flew over Riyadh. The debris kills an Egyptian resident in Riyadh, in what is the first death in the Saudi capital during the conflict. This is third time in five months that missiles have flown over Riyadh.

Saudi Arabia and UAE, two of the key protagonists in the Yemeni conflict, pledge nearly $1bn in aid for Yemen at UN donor conference. This comes a day after Saudi-conducted airstrike kills several children in the port city of Hodeidah.

The World Health Organization warns that Yemen is in significant danger of a third major cholera outbreak

A bomb kills 40 children returning by bus from a trip to the Northern Saudi governate. The Saudi coalition responsible for the bombing blames incorrect intel, and admits that it was a mistake. Munitions reports that the bomb was sold to the coalition as part of the US arms deal with Saudi Arabia.

Two Saudi airstrikes leave 26 children and 4 women dead. In the meantime, Houthis recapture parts of the Hodeida province.

Pro-Hadi forces claim full control of the Sa’dah district containing Malahith.

Kilo 16 and Kilo 10—two key Houthi supply routes to Hodeida—are cut off by pro-Hadi forces.

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