Report

Houthi Rebels Make Gains in Yemen

Yemen’s Houthi rebels retook a strategic hilltop overlooking the Al-Anad airbase in Lahj province, which Saudi-led coalition forces seized this summer. The Houthis also retook Damt, a city in Dhalea province, but pro-government forces captured the entry-points to the city after being air-dropped more weapons and supplies. About 30 people were killed in the area ...

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Yemen’s Houthi rebels retook a strategic hilltop overlooking the Al-Anad airbase in Lahj province, which Saudi-led coalition forces seized this summer. The Houthis also retook Damt, a city in Dhalea province, but pro-government forces captured the entry-points to the city after being air-dropped more weapons and supplies. About 30 people were killed in the area over the past two days. The Saudi-led pro-government coalition is continuing to focus on capturing Taiz, where 29 people were killed this weekend, including eight civilians, according to medical personnel in the city. Khaled Bahah, Yemen’s vice president and prime minister, told reporters that pro-government forces plan on capturing the city before beginning peace talks. “The Taiz battle is nearly in its final stages. It will continue until the entire Taiz is liberated,” he said. “We then will sit at the negotiating table with them.”

The island of Socotra, off Yemen’s southern coast, has been hit by a second rare typhoon. Cyclone Megh killed one person and displaced another 5,000 people, just days after Cyclone Chapala devastated Socotra and parts of the Yemeni mainland. That storm killed at least 11 people.

Violence in the West Bank Continues

The spate of violence in Israel and the West Bank continued this weekend when a Palestinian woman stabbed a security guard at the Jewish settlement town of Beitar Illit before being shot. In a separate incident in the settlement town of Tapuach, a Palestinian driver rammed a bus stop, wounding four people. Twelve Israelis and 72 Palestinians have been killed in violent incidents since October 1. President Obama and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will meet today in Washington, DC.

Headlines

  • Analysis of the black box recording from the Oct. 31 crash of a Metrojet commercial plane in the Sinai Peninsula revealed the sound of an explosion; investigators are now “90 percent sure” the plane was brought down by a bomb, a member of the investigative team told Reuters.

 

  • Two Americans were shot and killed by a Jordanian police officer before he turned the gun on himself; the Americans were at a U.S.-supported training facility for Iraqi and Palestinian security forces in Muaqar, on the outskirts of Amman.

 

  • After a lull late last month, the United States has increased the tempo of airstrikes against Islamic State targets in Syria.

 

  • Hossam Bahgat, an independent journalist and human rights advocate, was arrested and interrogated by the Egyptian military, which may charge him with publishing false information in a report he wrote on 26 officers accused of plotting a coup; Amnesty International has condemned the arrest.

 

  • Leaders from the European Union will meet with African Union leaders for a two-day summit this week to discuss the repatriation of economic migrants from Europe to Africa.

Arguments and Analysis

Yemen’s economic collapse and impending famine: The necessary immediate steps to avoid worst-case scenarios” (Farea Al-Muslimi and Mansour Rageh, Sanaa Center for Strategic Studies)

“Yemen faces a number of immediate and critical economic threats which have profound humanitarian consequences. The most serious is the threat of famine. The air, sea and land blockade of the country — authorized under United Nations Security Council (UNSC) resolution 2216 that grants countries in the Saudi-led coalition the right to search any shipment coming into Yemen — has impeded the delivery of humanitarian aid as well as traditional import mechanisms. Yemen imports roughly 90% of its food requirements, and most foreign exporters now demand upfront payment for the shipments sent to Yemen, while insurance premiums have increased markedly, especially after the Saudi-led coalition bombed the port of Hodeidah, one of Yemen’s primary shipping hubs. All of this has significantly increased. Costs for importers have significantly increased, while transportation costs within Yemen have also risen rapidly due to the lack of fuel and transportation workers’ fears of being targeted by coalition airstrikes. These costs are then tacked onto the final price primary consumers in Yemen must pay for almost all their basic necessities, even as the vast majority of them have seen their jobs, incomes and purchasing power vanish with the general economic collapse and internal refugee crisis.”

 

Cooperating, Not Condoning: Toward a More Constructive U.S. Egypt Policy” (Vin Weber and Gregory B. Craig, Washington Institute for Near East Policy)

“U.S. policymakers and analysts tend to view Egypt as the ultimate test case for the classic tradeoff between American interests and values. After all, Egypt is at once a strategic ally at peace with Israel and at war with jihadists, and a deeply repressive country that is now cracking down on Islamist and non-Islamist oppositionists alike. But based on our conversations with a wide range of actors in Egypt and elsewhere, we believe that this interests-versus-values tradeoff is a false one. A constructive U.S. policy toward Egypt should pursue both in parallel — coordinating with Egypt on security matters and encouraging Egypt to improve its human rights record and allow greater political freedom — while understanding that these goals will likely be achieved at very different paces. Indeed, the context in which the Sisi regime came to power and currently operates complicates short-term U.S. efforts to promote significant political reforms in Egypt.“

-J. Dana Stuster

SALEH AL-OBEIDI/AFP/Getty Images

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