On January 19, 2021, the administration of US President Donald Trump designated the Houthi group as a foreign terrorist organization. One month later, the Administration of President Joe Biden announced that it has officially revoked this designation as of February 16, 2021. However, Washington kept sanctions on three of the Houthi leaders. This paper reviews contexts of the American move, discusses messages intended to all parties involved in the Yemeni conflict, and analyzes the outcomes and reverberations of this move in the Yemeni landscape.
Only nine days before the end of the administration of US President Donald Trump, his Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced that the Ansar Allah (Supporters of God) Houthi group in Yemen has been designated a "foreign terrorist organization" (FTO). While the Democratic President Joe Biden's administration has confirmed that it would directly review this decision, announcing in the last week of January 2021 that it would suspend "temporarily", and for a period of one month, some sanctions imposed on the group, the inclusion of the Houthis in the list of terrorism, and not removing them from it soon, would cast a shadow over the stalled political solution course in Yemen.
On 12 May 2021, the Secretary-General of the United Nations (UNSG) António Guterres announced the appointment of his Special Envoy to Yemen, British diplomat Martin Griffiths, as Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator. According to this appointment, Griffiths will assume his new position after four years of service by his predecessor, namely the British economist Mark Lowcock. While the international organisation made it clear that Griffiths will continue the mediation mission in the Yemeni conflict until a suitable alternative is found for him, the timing at which this change was announced gave the impression that the international mediation in Yemen has reached a dead end, especially after Griffiths himself showed "interest in assuming a new [UN] mission”, according to United Nations (UN) officials, and that there is greater reliance on the role played by US envoy Timothy Lenderking, given that the administration of President Joe Biden considers resolving the Yemeni conflict a “top priority” for its foreign policy.
This paper sheds light on the direct and indirect reasons for Griffith's failure in his mission and his appointment to a new UN position at this time, and the repercussions of this for the role of the UN and the peace process in Yemen in general.
In early March 2021, the fifth conference of its kind was held virtually to announce financial pledges for humanitarian efforts in Yemen. The conference resulted in pledges to provide only 43 percent of the amount requested by the United Nations (UN) to fund aid, which threatens to reduce its programmes and the number of beneficiaries, and exacerbate the humanitarian situation in Yemen. This paper sheds light on the context of the conference and the implications of its results, and makes proposals to increase the adequacy of the response to the humanitarian crisis in the light of the decline in international funding.
The Houthis have launched a ferocious attack on the oil province of Marib, the last stronghold of the internationally-recognised government in the north of the country since the beginning of the second week of February 2021, in an escalation that is the largest and that comes immediately after the US announced their removal from the lists of foreign terrorist organisations, and in conjunction with a Washington-led diplomatic mobility and repeated European and United Nations (UN) calls to stop the military escalation and move towards a comprehensive political solution to the Yemeni crisis.
This paper sheds light on the most important motives for the Houthi attack on Marib, and the messages that the group wishes to convey to the international community and its opponents and allies alike, and explores the repercussions of this escalation for the Yemeni crisis and the peace process, and possible scenarios.
The Yemeni crisis and the regional tensions that are fuelled by it have topped the list of concerns of the new US administration. On 4 February 2021, President Joe Biden announced the suspension of his country's support for the military campaign led by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) in Yemen, and appointed a special envoy to Yemen in an effort to strengthen US diplomatic efforts to "end the war" in this country. On the next day, his State Department announced the start of procedures for removing the Houthis from the list of terrorism, which was actually done on 16 February 2021.
From the initial crisis surrounding political transition, and through the ensuing war, the United Nations (UN) has played a variety of roles in Yemen, under its mandate from the international community.
The political role of traditional parties and groups in Yemen has diminished during the course of the ongoing conflict; some have splintered into separate groups and many have lost much of their structural and organizational capabilities.
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