Yemenlog

For the sake of sharing knowledge abumelle will try to keep track of news concerning Yemen below … (click + to read more)

Because information on Yemen in English is abundant i decided to continue this log in Dutch. New episodes in the Dutch language are to be found here

Intensification of US involvement/3april/2017

The question arises if the new Trump-government is getting more seriously involved with the Yemen war.

On the US-defense website we read the US-army this late winter/ early spring carried out seventy airstrikes against supposed terrorists in eastern Yemen, of which fifty in the month of march alone. This in spite of an highly interesting US-senate briefing by (Yemeni) Yemen specialists in which they argued against hitting presumed al qaeda hideouts or clusters, because most are part or an expression of an intricate tribal society which takes more elaborate tools to manage than bombardments. Meanwhile the UNDP reports about the number of explosive remnants removed by YEMAC’s  sevenhundred operators since february 2016: 360.000

Mokha taken, Hodeidah under fire/20feb/2017

Hostilities along the western frontline increase in an apparent effort to block imports of anything through the only remaining harbour in Yemen.

Today the news from Aljazeera that aidworkers from the Norwegian aid organisation NRC were ‘abducted’ by the northern government. It looks like the southern government is moving the frontline up to Hodeidah, a major port and lifeline for the northern government. Last month the southern government succeeded in taking the historical port of Mokha, much less important in size but a sizebale strategical victory.

War continues, food shortage predicted /dec2017

In december we see the continuation of hostilities between the coalition and the rebel government, concentrated in Taiz. Elsewhere we see smaller battles on the north, east and west side of the Yemeni highlands. Frontlines however do not move much.


Rift between Houthis and Saleh?

The second week of december we read a rare report -though in newspapers favoring the ousted government-on disagreement between Houthi’s leadership and their allies, led by the former strongman Ali Abdallah Saleh, whose General Peoples Congres party is apparently excluded from many posts in the new government. The pro-Saudi newspaper Al Arabiyya reports on internal opposition within the Houthiranks.


No wheat and money, yes gas and weapons

Meanwhile reports on the smuggle of weapons keep trickling down (mostly through media opposing the houthies). While weapons get in, food is not. Read this highly informative report on the barriers built by both the Houthis and the coalition impeding the influx of necessary wheat. Main reason however is the lack of money in the nationals banks on either sides of the frontline, notwithstanding the income generated by a recommenced Hadramawti gasfield

Houthis install alternative government/restofnov2016

As predicted the Kerry-ceasefire lasted very few hours. Instead we read reports the Saudi’s dropped some extra bombs just before the start of the ceasfire while the Houthi’s flew a rocket in the direction of Mecca, all apparently enough not to abide by the ceasefire. On 28th of november the Houthis installed a government, yet to be recognised by foreign countries other then Iran. The many cabinetmembers of the new government were later that month all furnished with brand new Lexi, to the astonishment of the majority of impoverished people of Sana’a.

Kerry claims new ceasefire/16 nov/2016

Yesterday US-foreign minister Kerry visited Muscat, Oman -Oman is neutral ground- for talks with the Houthies.

Outcome is that from tomorrow a new ceasefire is called. Yemenwatchers remain skeptical, as former ceasefires did not hold. The formal Yemeni government withheld support for the ceasefire, even declared their surprise, for they were not consulted. However, as their sponsors Saudi Arabia and UAE seemed to be consulted the Hadi govt has little choice. On twitter we read that American secret agents are to be freed as part of the deal. They were apparently taken hostage by the Houthies after they assisted warring parties in the province of Al Baydah, a (former) Al Qaeda stronghold in southern Yemen.

Wealth, famine, sadness and cold in Sana'a/nov13/2016

Just this morning a sad email came in from Yemen.

My contact -an educated Yemeni, in service of an international organisation- says he is well. ‘But millions of Yemenis are suffering. We are going down with no hope of a solution on the horizon. Yemen has become a paradise for war traders while western Yemen (Tihama) has been hit by famine, as farmers and fishermen are prohibited doing their work. In Sana’a things are good in comparison with other regions, but civil servants have not been paid wages and just this week a chilling cold has entered as well. I feel really sad for my country in which many tribesmen are wealthier than Donald Trump US new president and people are dying from hunger. The only business left is to get involved in the war.’

Voor Nederlandstalige lezers

Poging is een logboek bij te houden van gebeurtenissen in het verre Jemen. Dat valt niet mee, het land zit op slot en onafhankelijke pers is ver weg. Toch is het belangrijk om feitelijkheden bij en gescheiden te houden van geruchten en beide te voorzien van context. In het Engels, daar het Nederlandstalige lezerspubliek voor dit onderwerp gering is in aantal

How to read this & Disclaimer

It is hard to find unpartisan truth in the pile of (online)news reports concerning Yemen.

The author of this blog is a geographer/journalist who visits Yemen since 1993. Since his last visit in 2009 he tries keeping in touch through reading books, calls with Yemeni’s in Yemen, meetings with Yemeni’s abroad, a lot of eavesdropping and continuous research on internet. In order te raise the level of quality and genuinity of this blog your additions, corrections and comments are needed at abumelle{at}xs4all.nl or at @abumelle, or in the box below.

On disappearing money and relocated banks/oct17/2016

How to bring the Yemeni people to their knees.

During summer president Hadi formally relocated Yemens national bank from Sana’a to Aden. It is unknown what amounts of money resides in the national bank, which is through the formal relocation now in hands of the coalition backed government. Since the relocation government employees have not recieved wages, in both Houthi controlled north and coalition controlled south. It is unclear if there is still a sizeable export of oil and gass which adds income to a state which has been financed through significant foreign donations for decades. It is known however these financial infusions have dried out. And it is known that ordinary Yemeni’s are now broke and unable to pay their bills, in Sana’a as well as Aden. We read rumours that Houthies collect money for the state, that this money is used for warfare. We read reports that Hadi promises to pay employees in the south, but for now there is no confirmation of these payments. What we do know is that people in Sana’a as well as Aden regularly take to the streets protesting. One more thing on banks and money; one of the better functioning financial institutions of Yemen has been designated as affiliated with Al Qaeda by the US.

Missiles across the Red Sea-US enters war?/oct17/2016

Oct 10th Yemen launches two missiles into the Red Sea, missing two patrolling US warships. Two days later the US fires Tomahwak missiles, on radarsites along the Yemeni coast. ‘These limited self-defense strikes were conducted to protect our personnel, our ships, and our freedom of navigation in this important maritime passageway’, according to the Americans, adding a succesfull Houthi attack on an Emirati vessel the week before to the case. Again two days later the US emits serious doubts if the Yemeni missiles -denied by the Houthies- were ever fired, as the ships’ radar system seems to malfunction. One day later the USS Mason finds a third Yemeni missile on its radar, but this time retaliation does not follow. Yemeni sources on twitter question the use of bombing the Yemeni radar sites as these had been bombed many times before by the Saudi’s. Meanwhile bystanders wonder if the US has slipped silently into an active war.

Yemeni scuds on Makkah!/oct/2016

Astonishment in the Saudi press on the arrival of a Yemeni rocket near Taif, which is located only 70km from the holy places in Mekka and many hundreds from Yemen. There is some sceptism if Yemen could launch such a rocket, but both Iranian Press TV and the Malaysian Malaysianmirror  confirm the arrival of the rocket. According to American military journalists the rocket was aimed at the King Fahd air base in Taif, which hosts American military personel. Besides all these uncertain facts we notice strong emotions, naming the Houthies ‘dogs’ incited by ‘snake Iran’, reflecting the image of the Houthies as pagan, underdeveloped and wild people without respect for any civilsation whatsoever. Just as ISIS.

Once again a ceasefire does not hold/oct20/2016

UN envoy Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed brokers a ceasefire on oct 17, to last 72 hours from 23:59 on oct 19th. Fighting and bombing intensifies the days approaching the ceasefire. Sanaa airport is once again flattened. After midnight Sanaa remains calm, but the shelling of Taiz continues and Saudi jets drop bombs on Mokha. The next day the UN envoy start talks for a new ceasefire.

US special forces & an independent Hadramawt/11oct/2016

Worthwhile reading: Vice visits Aden and reports on US special forces searching for Al Qaeda and ISIS, meanwhile supporting Hadrami militias fighting for an independent Hadramawt. ‘The guys we train end up being our enemies 20 years later.’

Oman & the last westerners in Sana'a/oct9/2016

 An Australian footballcoach is reported kidnapped in Sana’a. Two weeks later he appears in a video, explaining his kidnappers want money from the Australian government. According to his assistant his kidnappers are of an unnamed islamist group. The coach worked for a charitable Christian group. Meanwhile three kidnapped Americans are liberated through negotations by the Omani sultanate, leaving Yemen through the borders with Oman. Oman -neither shia nor sunni- is the only regional party considered to be non-partisan in the Yemen civil war.

Mistake or bulls eye?/8oct/2016

 Saudi bombers hit funeral in Sana’a. At least 140 civilians lose their lives.

Saudi Arabia claims the bombing was a mistake, but as many of the attendees at the funeral were important (tribal) leaders this claim is widely doubted.

Mohsen & Saleh/9oct/2016

Are the main players in Yemen relatives, allies or foes?

Former allies

Oct 8, we read somewhere that general Mohsen arrives in Marib to encourage the troops -financed by Saudi Arabia- he leads since he was appointed vice-president by formal president Hadi. We read in other reports Mohsen has appointed more Islah-members in high ranks of this army. Islah is the leading conservative sunni political party in Yemen, pro-Saudi.

Oct 9, we read former president Saleh is encouraging (his) Yemeni troops to march towards the Northern border and across, reclaiming Yemeni territory in Saudi Arabia.

Good to know: Saleh and Mohsen are key figures in Yemen. Both belong to the (Sana’ani) tribe of Sanhan, some say they are bloodrelatives. Saleh and Mohsen balanced power between them -while keeping their respective army divisions apart- for many years. Untill Mohsen ‘joined’ the Arabspring, which culminated in an uprising against Saleh, eventually deposing him. Mohsen was the central figure in the internal Northern wars (2004- 2010) between the former government and the Houthies.

The boat & the island/feb18/2016

About an (absent/exiled/banned) president selling part of his country and intercepted boats carrying arms destined for war criminals communication gear meant for reliefagency

Reports on decisive gains of all parties involved in the Yemeni war keep abounding all press reports. You have to bear in mind which source you ‘re drinking from to make out who the reporters mean by popular resistance, militants, rebels, qaeda, isis or government troops; they all win battles and now posess mountains so strategic that the course of war is changed dramatically. Illustrative of the adhd-character of press reports concerning Yemen is the story of the interception and apprehension of an Irish boat carrying military equipment picked up in Iran and meant for the ‘militant’ Houthis. Next day we learn from spokespersons why the Arab coalition release the boat, for it turned out it was carrying communication equipment for the World Food Program of the UN. Also up and down keeps popping up the report of the exiled president Hadi leasing the island of Socotra to the UAE for the coming 99 years. All funny if it weren’t that so many people are hungry and desperate and/or on the run. 

Foreign suicide bomber Al Hulandi identified/feb8/2016


On how foreign boys accidently come to Yemen and put some more fuel on the Yemeni conflict} We know that besides misery there is profit in war.

We read reports on mercenaries from al corners of the world fighting in Yemen. Eritrean, Colombian and Sudanese troops are the coalitions boots on the ground. Amongst the fighters for Al Qaeda en ISIS we suspectibly find many foreign individual volunteers, as this story on Abu Hanifa al Hulandi shows. Al Hulandi blew himself and his minibus up few weeks ago, just short of the presidential palace in Aden, killing himself, guards and bystanders. First there was doubt on the ISIS-press release, as another Abu Hanifa al Hulandi (the Dutchman) was killed in Syria in 2014. Specialists and counter terrorist were unable to identify this Al Hulandi, who appeared as a happy grinning young man in the press release. A local Dutch journalist did find his roots, in the Dutch town Alphen aan de Rijn. He learned the boy -called Mazen- was waved goodbye only a year ago by his family, as he took a plane to Saudi Arabia to study Arabic. The Saudi authorities however did not allow him in, and Mazen deflected to Yemen, where his trail is yet to be discovered. Read the original somewhat straightforward report (in Dutch) here or else maybe the poor English googletranslation here.

ps: in a statement Abu Hanifa’s name was later changed to Abu Hudayhfa

Outlawed in a Yemeni spa/feb3/2016

 The fate of many thousands in Yemen, but written like this it so well describes how risky it can be if one just ventures out to find out things.

Read the breathtaking story of Bahir Hameed, a photojournalist visiting Hamman Jaref, a spa just south of Sana’a.} A rectangular building surrounding hot natural pools, amidst orchards, in a peaceful rural and mountainous setting. On googlemaps we find a two year old review, saying: Who wants tranquility and comfort, visit this place. A Yemeni-Dutch journalist asks herself -this is sept 2015- why the Saudi’s bomb exactly this place. We find a tweet showing pictures of before and after the bombardment. And then again there is a so called ‘sortie’ on Hammam Jaref january the 16th. Which leads few days later to this story telling us how indiscriminate, illogical and random the Saudi bombings can be. For more on the plight of journalists in Yemen, read this.

Stalemate/feb2/2016

Many things happened since end october, sorry for this gap, will try to make up for, catch-up with it. However, the answer to the question if things changed strategically appears to be: stalemate.

Many more people died, many more houses were demolished, despair and destruction is best described by the word: widespread. This somehow summarizes the last three months in Yemen. If one reads the ‘coalition’ pressreports, one may get the impression the ‘rebels’ are losing the battle for Yemen. The far less numerous ‘rebel’ media emphasize the destruction caused by the Saudi/coalition bombings, which seem to be fiercer then ever this past week. The more non-partisan reports focus on the stalemate, like this rather cynical one by Fannack

2015

Chapala en Megh toy with Socotra/nov6/2015


As if Yemen and its people have not been plagued enough by human made disasters, there comes a natural catastrophy.

Two violent tropical cyclones pass over the vulnerable island of Socotra and overturn coral reefs, fishing boats, mud houses and many rare species of trees} Socotra has been spared Arabian springs and consecutive wars, it has so far been hailed as the island of calm amidst a see of unrest. Untill the end of november, when the just as rare as violent tropical cyclones Chapala en Megh pass by and right over the island, which is covered with ancient dragonblood trees and surrounded by unique coral reefs. The flora and fauna that name the island the Galapagos of the Indian Ocean are hard hit, thrown on the beach and uprooted, though exact damage needs to be assesed. Eighteen people lose their lives, three an half thousand of houses are destroyed, thousandfivehundred of boats become like kites in the forcefull gails, that uproot fifteenthousand palmtrees. Read -and see- more here (in Dutch, sorry)

Old Aden churches targeted/oct29/2015

Another church in Aden reported demolished and looted. Makes three?

An article about the once tolerant but now deploring situation in Aden. The journalist of Al Monitor reports on the burning of the Adeni al-Badri Church by ‘islamic extremists’. Locals and scolars speak of the looting of the Saint Anthony Church earlier this year, folllowed by the looting of a catholic church in by a so called ‘Al Qaeda-affiliated group’. The storming of the St Anthony church was reported in may of this year after this tweet. And slighty off topic is this blackandwhite movie of the arrival of a British queen in her Aden.

Figures on Yemeni diaspora/oct28/201

One in every ten Yemeni’s has left home. One of every twohundred Yemeni’s has left Yemen.

But Somali’s still cross the rough seas to Yemen, for a better future beyond}News from UNHCR that despite the war Somali migrants continue to cross the Red Sea for a new future, mostly beyond Yemen. This year saw an influx of 70.000 Africans, mostly Somali’s. In total UNHCR records 260.000 migrants form the Horn now staying in Yemen, 90% of them being Somali’s. Meanwhile the number of IDP’s (internally displaced people) has since the month of may risen with more than half a million to 2,305,048. Which means 1 in every 10 Yemeni’s has fled home within Yemen. UNHCR etsimates the number of Yemenis fleeing the country at only 121.000. More here…

Bombs on MSF-clinic near Saada. Whodunnit/oct27/2015

All media report the bombing of a clinic of Medecins sans Frontiers near the northern city of Saada. The battered region now has no medical care left at all.

The precise location of the scene is Haydan, some twentyfive km’s outside Saada, a once beautiful city with a great wall and tall houses made of clay and mud. Saada has suffered bombings since 2006, first by its own government in an internal war between the Saleh-government and the Houthi uprising, nowadays by Saudi planes. Saada is reportedly semi-demolished and almost deserted, as you can read in this report. ‘With the hospital destroyed, at least 200,000 people now have no access to lifesaving medical care, according to the press release of MSF itself. Saudi Arabia itself denies bombing the hospital. Most media connect the bomb to the American bombs on a MSF-clinic in Kunduz, Afghanistan only two weeks ago. More here and here 

Which one is the Yemeni army/oct25/2015

The Yemeni Army is winning and sweeping. Question: which is the Yemeni army?

According to Tasnim Media, an Irananian website, the Yemeni army downed a Saudi warship near the coast of Taiz. In casu the Red Sea- port of Mokha, where Dutch traders long ago succeeded in smuggling Yemeni coffeeplants into their vessels, ready for export to th Dutch East Indies and beyond. From Press TV, Iranian state media, we learn the Yemeni Army shot down a Saudi drone near Taiz. From Gulf News we learn Yemeni forces make sweeping gains in recapturing Taiz, Emirates24 adds that coalition warships ‘pound’ rebel targets in Taiz. Seems a coherent story, except that all sources are talking about different armies, which in fact fight eachother. Confusing for people that don’t know who is who. To their comfort: nobody knows who is who, and who is with who at what location and at what moment in time, for this is Yemen.

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