Bottom Line Up Front As U.S-supported Saudi air strikes continue to kill Yemeni civilians, a bill to end that support remains stuck in the Senate. In April, President Trump vetoed a different bill passed by both chambers aimed at ending U.S. support to the Saudi-led coalition fighting in Yemen, something ...

  Bottom Line Up Front President Trump’s veto of attempted Congressional limits on U.S. involvement in the war in Yemen increases the likelihood of a protracted conflict. Saudi Arabia faces no credible pressure to seek a negotiated political settlement in Yemen. Terrorist groups including al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) ...

  Bottom Line Up Front On February 13, the U.S. House of Representatives voted 248-177 to require the administration to end support for Saudi Arabia’s war in Yemen. If the bill clears the Senate it would be the first time a War Powers Act bill passed both chambers, setting up ...

  Bottom Line Up Front A partially declassified study of U.S. military operations demonstrates the difficulty in accurately counting and mitigating civilian casualties. Disparities exist between official Pentagon estimates of civilians killed and those done by external agencies, leading to assumptions about the former being less transparent. The study reiterates ...

  Bottom Line Up Front Iran’s ballistic missile capabilities enable it to project power while compensating for an otherwise modest conventional military capacity. Iran’s supply of missiles to regional armed factions have helped these groups morph into significant threats to American interests and allies. The fielding of Iranian-supplied missiles by ...

  Bottom Line Up Front The October killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi has shifted U.S. congressional opinion sharply against Saudi Arabia’s de-facto leader, Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman. Congress is seeking to compel the Trump administration to cease all logistical support for the Saudi-led coalition battling Iranian-backed Houthi rebels ...

  Bottom Line Up Front On November 11, reports indicate that at least 149 Yemenis were killed in fighting for the port city of Hodeida. The toll includes 110 Houthi fighters, 32 pro-pro-government fighters, and 7 civilians. The United Nations is warning again that the disruption or destruction of the ...

  Bottom Line Up Front Last week, both U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Secretary of Defense James Mattis declared the need for a ceasefire in Yemen. The statements come as some semblance of public and congressional pressure builds against U.S. support for the Saudi-led catastrophe, which up until ...

As Mohammad bin Salman (MbS) has terrorized his opponents at home and abroad, fear has spread within the Saudi kingdom. Has he become the new Saddam of Arabia? As Iraq’s Saddam Hussein did in the 1980s, MbS is cementing his power domestically and regionally through fear and economic largesse under ...

The recent distrust between the United States and Saudi Arabia has raised questions about the crisis in Yemen.  The U.S. supports Saudi forces by providing intelligence and logistics support, among other things, as the Saudi-led coalition that includes the UAE, takes on the rebel Houthis that have pushed the Yemeni ...

U.S. Secretary of Defense James Mattis made a number of important comments Tuesday during an interview at the U.S. Institute of Peace.  Speaking to former U.S. national security advisor Stephen Hadley, the Secretary called for a ceasefire in war-torn Yemen within the next 30 days.  He also got specific regarding ...

The war in Yemen has been for some time one of the worst current man-made humanitarian disasters.  Now, comes a report, from the United Nations Human Rights Council and based on extensive investigations of a group of experts examining the past four years of the war, documenting not only human suffering ...

While not in the headlines every day, al Qaeda operatives are still the targets of somewhat regular military operations in places like Yemen.  The U.S. carried out a series of air strikes against al Qaeda targets in Yemen over the summer according to U.S. Forces Central Command (CENTCOM). Former Acting ...

In the second part of a Cipher Brief two-part series on the significant implications of the battle for Hodeida, Cipher Brief Expert Norm Roule, who is also the ODNI’s former National Intelligence Manager for Iran, shares his secrets for understanding how today’s actions are influenced by the past and how ...

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani warned Monday that military action in Yemen will fail.  The warning comes as a Saudi-led coalition targeted Houthi rebels aligned with Iran, according to Reuters.  Still don’t understand the strategic significance of what’s happening in Hodeida?  Consider that the city has long served as a hotbed ...

Pro-government forces backed by Saudi Arabia and the UAE, have launched an assault on rebels holding Yemen's port city of Hodeidah.  Potential humanitarian casualties are high, since the port serves as one of the only avenues for foreign aid to move into the country, where Yemenis are already facing dire ...

  The Arab Coalition's on-going bloody attack on Yemen's critical port city of Hodeidah, with Washington's acquiescence, will only deepen the humanitarian tragedy of the Yemeni people. The Saudi-UAE attack is part of the coalition's continuing military effort, again with American assistance, to topple the Houthi regime and restore the government of President Abd-Rabbu ...

A missile fired by Yemen’s Iranian-supported Houthi rebels and targeting the Saudi capital Riyadh for the second time in seven weeks suggests such an attack won’t be a one-off. While the Saudis again say they were able to intercept the rocket, this might mark the beginnings of a pattern that ...

U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley yesterday displayed an array of singed missile remnants and other parts that she said constituted “concrete” evidence that Iran had illegally supplied weapons to Houthi rebels in Yemen in direct violation of U.N. Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 2231. In addition to codifying ...

Cipher Brief experts and CIA veterans Norman Roule, Emile Nakhleh and Rob Richer, together with former U.S. Amb. to Yemen Steven Seche, weighed in Monday after Yemen’s former president Ali Abdullah Saleh was reported killed by his former allies. Saleh had switched sides over the weekend, in hopes of negotiating an ...

The U.S. and its Gulf allies have clawed back Yemeni territory from al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), which has exploited the Yemeni conflict to expand, Gulf military officials tell The Cipher Brief. Troops from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) have paired with U.S. advisors and Yemeni forces to ...

Another shakeup atop the Saudi royal family, coupled with an escalation in the war in Yemen, has paved the way for the Saudi heir to the throne to consolidate power but has also stirred nationwide turmoil that could plant the seeds of a future backlash. On Saturday, Saudi Crown Prince ...

As war in Yemen drags on, the people of Yemen are facing severe humanitarian circumstances, with many starving, succumbing to disease, or unable to receive necessary medical supplies. According to Nasser Arrabyee, a Yemeni journalist based in the country’s capital of Sana’a, many Yemenis feel blame their misfortunes on the ...

Billed the “forgotten child” of the Middle East, Yemen is ensnared in a three-year old civil war with no end in sight. Despite haphazard international attempts to mediate a ceasefire, the prospects for reconciliation remain bleak, and Yemeni citizens continue to face a catastrophic humanitarian crisis. All the while, the ...

Civil war in Yemen has dragged on for approximately three years with no end in sight. Forces loyal to Yemeni president Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi and backed by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have essentially fought the Iranian-backed Houthi opposition to a stalemate, while a catastrophic humanitarian crisis in ...

President Donald Trump’s first trip abroad to Saudi Arabia is aimed at re-ordering America’s approach to the Middle East and reinforcing Saudi Arabia’s centrality to U.S. policy.  The Saudi Arabia that Trump will see is in the midst of a nationwide effort to transform itself economically and socially.  He will ...

The Yemen peace process has been on life support since late December, even though the nation is on the brink of a humanitarian catastrophe.  G-7 foreign ministers all but threw up their hands at their meeting last week in Lucca, Italy, with a nearly rote statement calling for a renewed ceasefire ...

For Saudi Arabia, Yemen is a vital security interest. The Saudis have long claimed a dominant role in shaping Yemen’s domestic politics. Yemen’s desert border with Saudi Arabia is a source of anxiety for the Kingdom’s leaders. Yemenis are poor, Yemen’s large population is still growing, and the Yemeni state ...

The Cipher Brief sat down the Former U.S. Ambassador to Oman, Gary Grappo, to discuss the current state of affairs in the Gulf Cooperation Council. According to Grappo, many GCC policies have been driven by the competition between Saudi Arabia and Iran over regional leadership, and that tension between the ...

When Donald Trump was elected as the 45th U.S. President, there was reason for some comfort amongst the United States’ traditional Arab allies in the Middle East, with hopes of a stronger stand against their adversary Iran. “They’ve been measuredly optimistic about the Trump administration, in part because of the ...

Instability and terrorism in the Horn of Africa, along with a massive conflict on the other side of the Red Sea in Yemen, threaten U.S. interests in the region. Deputy Director of the Atlantic Council’s Africa Center, Bronwyn Bruton, writes in a recent report, “the United States could find itself ...

The U.S. and Eritrea do not have strong bilateral relations. Ever since UN sanctions were imposed in 2009 and again in 2013, doing business in Eritrea, let alone having strong diplomatic ties, has become more difficult. Yet this country in the heart of the Horn of Africa could be key ...

On Sunday, U.S. Special Forces SEAL Team 6, killed Abdul Raouf al-Dhahab, a mid-level al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) commander, and two of his lieutenants in a joint air and ground assault in the central Yemeni governorate of al-Bayda. The special operations raid occurred against the backdrop of ...

On September 24, Abu Khalid al-Sana’ani, a mid-level al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) commander, was killed by a U.S. airstrike as he and three other militants traveled through the oil-rich Yemeni governorate of Ma’rib, an active battleground in Yemen’s civil war. Sana’ani’s death marks 2016 as the deadliest year ...

Fifteen years to the date after the U.S. launched its invasion of Afghanistan, al Qaeda still remains a force to be reckoned with. And with international attention focused on decimating the Islamic State’s (ISIS) capabilities and ISIS continually losing both ground in its self-declared caliphate and strongholds around the globe, ...

The Saudis and the Houthis are not talking. Peace talks to end the conflict in Yemen were set to begin on Monday in Kuwait, but Houthi delegates say they will not attend until the Saudis, who support Yemen’s internationally recognized government, stop breaking a UN-backed ceasefire that began at midnight ...

Peace talks between the Saudi Arabians – who support the internationally recognized government of President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi in Yemen – and the Houthis were set to begin Monday, after a UN-backed ceasefire went into effect April 10. But fighting has not ceased and the peace talks have been ...

Peace talks are stalled and a ceasefire between the Saudis and the Houthis in Yemen is not holding. This is exactly what terrorist groups, like al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula and the Islamic State, want. The Cipher Brief talked to Wilson Center senior scholar and former Middle East correspondent for ...

President Xi Jinxing’s visit to the Middle East last week appeared to be business as usual. Short and relatively low-key, his studious avoidance of controversy was in keeping with China’s longstanding approach to the region: focus on energy and economics, and keep your head down on security and political matters. ...

The “Arab Spring” of 2011-12 has profoundly changed the Middle East, but much is misunderstood about its effects.  First, it did not produce, other than in Tunisia, lasting liberalization and more democracy in the states of the region. Second, the Arab Spring was not just “Arab,” but it also had ...

When the so-called Arab Spring burst upon the Middle East five years ago, Henry Kissinger remarked that this was only “scene one of act one of a five act play.”  How right he was. Kissinger’s remark was a usefully sobering antidote to a brief moment of nearly unbounded euphoria.  Recall ...

As the citizens of Arab nations reflect on the fifth anniversary of the popular revolts of 2011, they are likely to feel a sense of malaise and frustration. The rise of autocratic counter-revolutionary politics, regime repression, the resurgence of terrorism, and the spread of violence have replaced the euphoria of ...

The Arab Spring was the beacon of hope that would free millions from the grip of autocratic rulers.   At first, it looked promising.  One by one, the dictators fell: Zine El Abidine Ben Ali in Tunisia, Hosni Mubarak in Egypt, Moammar Khadafy in Libya, Ali Abdullah Saleh in Yemen.   Many ...

Shi’a Houthi forces recently killed al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) commander Mohammed Jamal in the Yemeni governorate of Taiz. Jamal died while fighting the Houthis alongside forces supported by the Yemeni government and Saudi Arabia, two long-time opponents of AQAP. His death was not unique in the conflict’s shifting ...

The conflict in Yemen has enabled ISIS to make its presence felt for the first time in Yemen and al-Qaeda to carve out a strategic territory on the coast of eastern Yemen.  Shortly after the Houthi movement took over the government in Sana’a, ISIS carried out its first significant attack in ...

Now in its eighth month, the conflict that Amnesty International has called Yemen's "forgotten war" grinds on, overshadowed by a metastasizing terrorist threat emanating from Syria, and a seemingly endless wave of Middle East and African refugees sweeping into Europe. But the international community ignores Yemen's war at its own ...

Nasser Arrabyee, a journalist based in Sanaa, Yemen, told The Cipher Brief that “al-Qaeda and ISIS are the biggest winners” from the ongoing war in Yemen. Furthermore, Arrabyee explained that Yemeni citizens have begun to view the Houthis as heroes defending against Saudi aggression. The Cipher Brief: How do Yemeni ...

Al-Qa’ida’s number two, Nasir Wahishi, is believed to have died in a drone strike in southern Yemen last month. He ran one of the most technologically sophisticated terror organizations in history – Al-Qai’da in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP). His operatives plotted attacks using bombs hidden in printer cartridges, a man’s ...