Yemen: Can Things Get Any Worse?

Tuesday June 19, 2018

The Wilson Center

Yemen remains a tragic poster child for a failing state. Beset by humanitarian catastrophe, the intervention of foreign powers with their own interests, and ongoing internal conflicts, functional governance and political and economic reform have become virtually impossible. Now add to this miserable situation the Emirati/Saudi-backed coalition offensive against the port of Hodeidah.

What are the implications of this latest development? What are the chances of a UN-brokered political agreement among Yemen’s various parties? What is the role of the United States and the international community? And what of Iran’s role in the wake of the U.S. decision to withdraw from the nuclear deal?

In our latest Ground Truth Briefing, four veteran observers of Yemen, its neighborhood, and U.S. policy in the region addressed these and related questions.

Sama'a Al-Hamdani

“Right now, we have not just a war in Hodeidah; we have a war of misinformation. For the past three days, there has been a lot of misinformation coming out of reliable sources about who’s winning what, but we are able to identify, as of this morning, that the Arab coalition and the Yemeni government managed to secure Hodeidah’s airport.”

“It’s easy to see that the Houthis are being choked and [the Saudi-led coalition is] exhausting them, but the scary thing is that the speech of Abdul-Malek al-Houthi, who is the head of the Houthi movement, shows that he is willing to take this fight to death.”

“What’s important right now, and what the international community and the U.S. should be putting huge emphasis on, is that the war should stay within Hodeidah – that the capture of the port should suffice as a victory. There is no need to escalate the war further and cause more bloodshed to an already devastated Yemen."

“The reality is, on the ground, [that] Yemen is fractured, and there are many new political players who are coming to the seat who are demanding a new mode of governance that the Yemeni government and the Arab coalition and the Houthis all seem to ignore. And I think the important and new reality on the ground is that Yemenis will have to face once this war is over.”




  • Ambassador Gerald Feierstein

    Former U.S. Ambassador to Yemen and Senior Fellow, Director of Gulf Affairs, Middle East Institute

  • Sama'a Al-Hamdani

    Fellow, Center for Contemporary Arab Studies, Georgetown University; consultant at the Atlantic Council's Rafik Hariri Center

  • David Ottaway

    Middle East Fellow

    Middle East specialist and former Washington Post Correspondent

  • Peter Salisbury

    Freelance journalist and analyst based in Sanaa, Yemen