Operation Restoring Hope / Operation Renewal of Hope
After a month of air strikes, Saudi Arabia declared a new Operation Restoring Hope. Riyadh said it would be aimed at protecting civilians and fighting terrorists. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia announced that at the request of President Abdrabu Mansur Hadi of Yemen, the focus will now shift from military operations to the political process. While the coalition will continue to protect the Yemeni people, counter any military moves by the Houthis or their allies, and deal with any threat against the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia or its neighbors, Operation Renewal of Hope will focus on the political process that will lead to a stable and secure future for Yemen.
Operation Renewal of Hope, sought prompt resumption of the U.N. facilitated talks to allow the political process to move forward in line with U.N. Security Council Resolution 2216 on Yemen, the GCC Initiative, and the outcomes of the Yemeni National Dialogue.
Further objectives of Operation Renewal of Hope included protecting civilians, enhancing humanitarian and medical assistance to the Yemini people, confronting terrorism, and preventing any moves by the Houthi militias and their allies to acquire or use weapons seized from the Yemeni armed forces or abroad. Objectives also included building an international coalition to provide maritime security to protect commerce and to prevent the shipments of weapons by sea or air in line with UN Resolution 2216, including enhanced monitoring and inspections.
A Saudi-led coalition launched five airstrikes on Yemeni rebel positions in southern Yemen on 22 April 2015. The raid, which took place in Lahj province, was the second bombing by the alliance against the Iran-allied Houthi group since Saudi Arabia announced the end of a month-long campaign targeting the group.
Pentagon officials said an Iranian convoy of nine cargo ships is also in international waters in the Gulf of Aden. US officials raised concerns that the Iranian vessels could be trying to deliver weapons to Yemen’s Houthi rebels, who have long had ties to Iran. The White House said Iran had previously sent weapons to the Houthis, a charge Iran denied. An arms shipment from the Iranians intended for the Houthis would be a clear violation of a United Nations Security Council embargo.
The aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71), escorted by the guided-missile cruiser USS Normandy (CG 60), transited the Strait of Hormuz from its station in the Arabian Gulf to the Arabian Sea, 19 April 2015. In addition to the Theodore Roosevelt and the Normandy, the US had seven other US warships in the area, including the Iwo Jima Amphibious Ready Group, which included a complement of more than 2,000 US Marines. There were also three US resupply ships in the region.
A US military official said April 23, 2015 Iranian cargo ships which may be carrying weapons for Houthi rebels in war-torn Yemen are moving away from that country. The official, speaking anonymously, called this a "promising sign." By April 24, 2015 the Iranian naval convoy suspected of possibly trying to deliver weapons to Yemen’s Houthi rebels appeared to be on its way back to Iran, avoiding a potential face-off with the United States. At one point, the USS Theodore Roosevelt was within 200 miles of the Iranian vessels.
The US Navy may provide protection for commercial vessels from other countries passing through the Strait of Hormuz. Pentagon officials said the Navy had already accompanied four American-flagged ships through the strait, including through the area of the passageway in Iranian waters. "Current plans are for accompanying US-flagged ships, although there are discussions with other nations to include their vessels as well," Col. Pat Ryder, a spokesman for the US Central Command which overseas operations in the Middle East, told reporters 01 May 2015.
A "limited" Saudi-led force is on the ground in Yemen's strategic port of Aden and more troops are on their way, a government official confirmed to AFP. About 20 troops have landed in the city for a "reconnaissance" mission, AP reported 03 May 2015. "A limited coalition force entered Aden and another force is on its way" to Aden, the official and commander told the agency on terms of anonymity.
The Saudi-led forces "will start helping us in fighting" the Houthi rebels, a leading member of the Popular Committees, also told the agency. The PC are a locally recruited militia loyal to expelled President Abd Rabbu Mansour Hadi. Similar reports appeared in the local Al-Ghad daily, which claimed the ground forces have entered the airport. The newspaper is linked to southern separatists, who demand the restoration of the southern state that merged with North Yemen 15 years ago.
Senegal's foreign minister said 04 May 2015 that Senegal would send 2,100 troops to help back the military intervention led by Saudi Arabia that is underway in Yemen. Senegal, which like Saudi Arabia is mostly Sunni Muslim, had received significant financial investments from the kingdom in recent years. In April 2015, Senegalese President Macky Sall met with the Saudi king, who solicited troop contributions. Senegal deployed troops to Saudi Arabia in the US-led alliance during the Gulf War against Iraq, when 92 of its soldiers were killed in the crash of a Saudi transport plane in 1991.
US and Saudi officials agreed May 07, 2015 to pursue a humanitarian pause in Yemen, where fighting by Shi'ite Houthi rebels had forced thousands of people to flee the country. On May 10, 2015 Shi'ite Houthi rebel fighters in Yemen said they had accepted a five-day humanitarian cease-fire proposal from Saudi Arabia, set to begin on 12 May 2015. The announcement came just hours after warplanes from the Saudi-led coalition bombed the residence of former President Ali Abdullah Saleh in the capital, Sana'a. Saleh was not believed to have been home at the time, and later appeared on television standing in front of the rubble.
Yemen's former president, Ali Abdullah Saleh, formally announced 11 May 2015 an alliance with Houthi fighters for the first time, after the Arab coalition launched two air strikes on his home in the capital, Sanaa. Saleh, who was forced to step aside in 2012 following a year of deadly nationwide protests against his three-decade rule, escaped unharmed after the attacks early on 10 May 2015.
A Moroccan F-16 warplane taking part in a bombing campaign in Yemen led by Saudi Arabia has gone missing, the Moroccan Royal Armed Forces said in a statement 11 May 2015. Morocco announced its backing of Saudi Arabia since the beginning of the military offensive in March, and has had F-16 warplanes stationed in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). "One of the F-16s of the Royal Armed Force made at the disposal of the coalition led by Saudi Arabia to restore the legitimacy in Yemen went missing on Sunday at 6pm local time," FAR's statement carried by the Moroccan state news agency MAP said.
A five-day humanitarian cease-fire began 12 may 2015 in Yemen to give the United Nations a chance to bring in badly needed food and relief to battered civilians. Yemen which imports more than 90 percent of its food, mainly by sea, had been struggling to feed the population for weeks. The pause in fighting took effect with Shi'ite Houthi rebels and the Saudi-led coalition battling nearly up to the last minute. The UN said the fighting has killed about 1,500 people since the airstrikes began in March.
Iranian warships accompanied a humanitarian aid cargo vessel bound for Yemen, as Tehran was wary that it could be intercepted by Saudi forces. It was heading to the port of Hodaida, which is held by Shia Houthi rebels. The Shahed cargo ship departed Iran on 11 May 2015 and was in the Gulf of Aden. Iran insisted the cargo ship is only carrying humanitarian aid. The country’s FARS news agency said that seven activists from the US and Europe are onboard the vessel. The ship is registered to the Tehran-based company Valfajr Shipping.
Saudi-led air raids hit the Yemeni capital, Sanaa, 81 Nay 2015. Forces loyal to former President Ali Abdullah Saleh in the east and south of the city were targeted. The strikes were the first to hit Sanaa after a five-day ceasefire ended late on Sunday. Military operations resumed earlier on 19 May 2015 in northern Saada province and in the southern city of Aden. Houthi sources said they had fired mortar rounds at several areas in Saudi Arabia’s southern Najran province. They also cited clashes with Saudi forces near the border area.
The death toll in Yemen continued to mount despite a recent five-day truce meant to allow urgently needed humanitarian aid to reach thousands of people trapped by the conflict, aid agencies reported 22 May 2015, with the latest estimates showed civilians were being disproportionately affected by the fighting. The International Organization for Migration (IOM) said more than 2,000 people had been killed in Yemen, with about half those being civilians, according to the UN human rights office. The UN agency reported at least 1,037 civilians were killed between March 26, when Saudi Arabia's airstrikes began, and May 20, shortly after the five-day humanitarian pause ended.
Besides the large death toll, the war in Yemen had injured more than 7,500 and newly displaced more than 550,000 other people. An estimated 250,000 refugees and 1 million migrants, mostly Somalis and Ethiopians, were living in precarious conditions in camps and reception centers or were living in poverty in urban areas across Yemen.
Aden was declared the temporary capital of Yemen after the Saudi Arabia-led coalition of militaries helped government forces seize it from Iran-backed Houthi militias in July 2015.
Armed forces loyal to the Yemeni internationally recognized President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi planned to launch an offensive to retake the Houthi-controlled capital Sanaa within two weeks, a senior Yemeni military commander Abdullah Subaihi said 01 August 2015. Under the plan, two separate units totaling some 2,000 ground forces along with the Saudi-led coalition's warplanes will liberate the cities of Taiz and Marib before heading to the capital.
"Forces loyal to political legitimacy [pro-Hadi] have laid down a strategy, in coordination with the [Saudi-led] coalition [targeting the Houthis in Yemen], which will come into effect in the coming days. The plan comprises liberating a large part of the territory currently under the control of the putschists," Subaihi said as quoted by the pan-Arab Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper.
A ground force of 2,800 pro-government troops, accompanied by tanks and armored personnel carriers, pushed toward a Houthi-controlled military base in Yemen 03 August 2015 as Saudi-led coalition airstrikes cleared their path. The al-Anad military base, located just north of Yemen’s port city of Aden, is the main Houthi encampment in the country's south.
Houthi officials, meanwhile, said the base remains under their control amid fierce fighting and continuous Saudi-led coalition airstrikes. The ground forces are comprised mostly of Saudi special operations, intelligence and logistics personnel supported by personnel and equipment from the United Arab Emirates and trained Yemeni fighters.
By 05 August 2015 a large force of southern Yemeni resistance fighters, backed by Saudi-led coalition armored fighting vehicles, had reportedly pushed Houthi rebels and their allies out of three southern provinces, including the strategic al-Anad air base. Arab media reported that the 3,000 ground troops, including 1,500 from Saudi Arabia and the UAE, and 1,500 trained Yemenis, along with battle tanks and infantry fighting vehicles, marked a notable escalation in the Saudi-led coalition's involvement in Yemen.
By 15 August 2015 Arab-supported forces loyal to Yemen's exiled government retook a fifth province in the country's south. Iran-backed militias reportedly “withdrew” and “handed over” the province of Shabwa, which has substantial oil reserves, to pro-government forces after being promised safe passage out of the area. Iran-allied Houthi militias, which seized the capital Sanaa in 2014 before advancing to Aden in March 2015, had been joined by troops loyal to deposed President Ali Abdullah Saleh, who resigned in 2012 following a popular uprising against his rule. Forces loyal to current President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, who fled the country, launched an offensive against the Iran-backed militias in July 2015, forcing them out of the city of Aden in July and later retaking the provinces of Daleh, Lahj, and Abyan. The conflict had left nearly 4,300 dead since March, half of them civilians, according to UN figures.
Loyalist Yemeni troops and Gulf Arab forces seized the Mandab Strait connecting the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden from Houthi fighters on 01 October 2015. “In a large-scale military operation launched today, Yemeni government, resistance and coalition forces liberated the Bab al-Mandeb strait and Mayun island,” Rajeh Badi said from the southern port city of Aden. Residents spoke of airstrikes and shelling by warships in support of a ground push towards the area, but could not immediately confirm that the strait had fallen.
A battalion of Sudanese troops arrived in Yemen's southern port city of Aden on 17 October 2015, bolstering Saudi-led Arab forces trying to keep out the Iran-backed Houthis and curb the growing presence of Islamist militants. The 300 Sudanese soldiers and officers arrived by sea. They joined contingents from the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain on the ground.
The Arab coalition said its aim was to restore Hadi's government to power in Yemen. At least 5,400 people had died since it began an air offensive in March 2015.
The Iran-backed Houthi group swept Hadi from power in February 2015 as part of what it called a revolution against corruption. It accused Hadi of being beholden to Saudi Arabia and western powers, including the United States. Despite overwhelming firepower and air support from countries in the Saudi coalition, Hadi struggled to impose his authority on Aden and other regions. Since most government members returned to Aden in September 2015, they assured residents of their ability to restore peace and calm.
In terms of partners on the ground, the Saudi-Emirati campaign included Yemeni military units loyal to deposed President Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi, fighters from the Sunni Islah Party, and secular secessionists from the Southern Movement. Islah is strong in the north, particularly the oil-rich Mareb Province, while the secessionists are strong in the south. These two main Yemeni groups (Islah and the southerners) began bickering in late 2015: the coalition’s focus on Aden and South Yemen irked Islah Party supporters. Southern leaders are, in turn, accused Islah of colluding with the Huthis, as the fourth excerpted article shows. In these disputes the Saudis were believed to back Islah and forces loyal to Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi, while the UAE supported Hadi’s Vice-President Khaled Bahah and the Southern Movement.
In early November, UAE military leaders announced they would rotate out their first deployment of ground troops from Yemen. The announcement came nearly a month after coordinated attacks in Aden killed four UAE soldiers. An Emirati officer was gunned down in Aden a few days later, bringing the number of UAE soldiers killed in action in Yemen to around sixty. Details on the UAE’s fresh deployment were scarce.
Yemeni President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi returned to 17 November 2015 Aden from exile in Saudi Arabia, with officials saying he would oversee campaigns against the Houthi fighters who control the capital, Sanaa. His return came just days after Khaled Bahah, the Yemeni prime minister, announced the return of his government to Aden. Hadi's arrival came after a series of setbacks for the Saudi-led campaign to reinstate him, with offensives on the ground faltering and armed groups such as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) group increasingly active. The Houthis refused to withdraw from main cities as required by a UN Security Council Resolution passed in March 2015.
Al-Qaeda and Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) fighters, who went unnoticed in the past, were audaciously driving their armed vehicles around the city, passing army checkpoints. There was no one force to say it is in full control of the entire city. In Aden, there are all kinds of militants. Hadi was, nonetheless, optimistic, saying that "a strong state can purge them from the city". Hadi’s Prime Minister Khaled Bahah said on 11 December 2015 he was determined to end the fighting that had killed nearly 6,000 people since March and caused widespread damage to the economy and infrastructure.
A ceasefire in Yemen’s civil war will start on 14 December 2015, the eve of planned peace talks in Switzerland next week, the head of the Houthi delegation to the peace talks said on 12 December 2015. "Based on what had been agreed upon, there will be a halt of the aggression on the 14th of this month," Mohammed Abdul-Salam told a news conference broadcast live from the Yemeni capital Sanaa. The United Nations has invited Yemeni President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi’s government and the Houthis to peace talks in Switzerland starting on 15 December 2015, after the sides agreed a draft agenda and ground rules for the talks.
Serious differences remain. The warring sides agreed to talks despite protracted differences, including one over UN Security Council Resolution 2216 which calls for rebels to withdraw from key cities and surrender their weapons, all of which they refuse. The Houthis seized administrative buildings in Sanaa in September 2014, several months after advancing from their northern stronghold of Saada.
Rebels and pro-government forces accused each other of violating a cease-fire in Yemen, but the truce appeared to be largely holding 16 December 2015. The accusations included continued ground fighting, shelling by Houthi rebels and airstrikes by a Saudi-led coalition that has been backing President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi's government.
Pro-government and rebel armed groups in Yemen accused each other of breaking the UN-mediated cease-fire just hours after it came into effect Tuesday. All sides in the conflict are accused of committing human rights violations.
UN sponsored peace talks on Yemen wrapped up December 20, 2015 after six days because of frequent violations of a cease-fire agreement by the warring parties. Airstrikes by the Saudi-led coalition and fighting by Houthi rebels have continued throughout the negotiations, reportedly killing more than 75 people over the past three days. UN envoy Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed said cessation of hostilities was central to the success of the talks. So, he said he had no choice but to suspend them for now.
Despite this setback, Ahmed said the pro-government and rebel delegations were able to make some progress. He said they have agreed upon a package of confidence building measures. These include the eventual release of all prisoners and a call for the safe, rapid, and unhindered delivery of humanitarian aid to conflict-affected areas, especially to the besieged city of Taiz.
Since 25 March 2015, thousands of air strikes by Saudi Arabian-led coalition forces killed hundreds of civilians all over Yemen. Amnesty International investigated more than 30 air strikes in various parts of the country. Amnesty International concluded that the majority of the airstrikes it had researched were unlawful – in that they deliberately targeted civilian objects or disproportionately harmed civilians and civilian objects in relation to the expected military gain from the strike, or failed to distinguish between these and military objectives. In some instances, air strikes appeared to have directly targeted civilians or civilian objects. The pattern of attacks and the lack of investigations to date into such incidents raises serious concerns about an apparent disregard for civilian life and for fundamental principles of international humanitarian law both by those planning and executing the attacks and by the exiled Yemeni government, at whose behest coalition forces are acting.
Renewal of Hope 2016
A report issued by the U.N. Children's Fund on 29 March 2016 found more than 900 children had been killed and more than 1,300 injured over the past calendar year.
The Commander Joint Special Operations for the Arab States of the alliance Prince Maj. Gen. Fahd bin Turki bin Abdul Aziz, confirmed 16 March 2016 the continuation of the Arab coalition countries for the Yemenis, till restoring their state.
Saudi Arabia said 17 March 2016 it was ending its "major combat operations" in Yemen, one year after launching Arab coalition airstrikes against Iranian-backed Houthi rebels. Saudi military spokesman Brigadier General Ahmed al-Asir said that the coalition would continue providing air support to Yemeni forces and help build an army. "The aim of the coalition is to create a strong cohesive government with a strong national army and security forces that can combat terrorism and impose law and order across the country," al-Asiri said. He said a small number of coalition troops will stay on the ground in Yemen to train Yemeni soldiers.
The White House said it welcomed the Saudi statement and added there was a dire need for a political solution in Yemen. Deputy Supreme Commander of the Yemeni Armed Forces Lieutenant General Ali Mohsen Al-Ahmar appreciated the role of the Arab Coalition countries to restore legitimacy in Yemen, notably the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, to deter the forces of rebel and coup in Yemen, through the operations of Determination Storm and Renewal of Hope.
In late May 2016 the White House suspended the transfer of cluster bombs to ally Saudi Arabia, in response to the Sunni kingdom's aerial war against Shi'ite rebels in Yemen. The hold was placed on such shipments following reports that the Saudi-led coalition battling Houthi rebels used the controversial munitions in civilian areas. More than 100 nations have signed a 2008 treaty banning the munitions. Major cluster bomb manufacturing countries, including the United States, China and Russia, have not signed the agreement. The US move came just weeks after the rights organization Human Rights Watch published a report detailing the use of cluster bombs near civilian areas in Yemen.
On 03 June 2016 United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon slammed the Saudi-led coalition for “killing and maiming” children in Yemen, adding it to an annual blacklist of countries and armed groups that have violated children's rights in conflict. "Grave violations against children increased dramatically as a result of the escalating conflict," a report released by Ban stated "In Yemen, owing to the very large number of violations attributed to the two parties, the Houthis/Ansar Allah and the Saudi Arabia-led coalition are listed for killing and maiming and attacks on schools and hospitals". The Houthis had been on the UN blacklist for at least five years, and were considered “persistent perpetrators.”
"The United Nations documented a fivefold increase in cases of recruitment and use of children by armed groups, in particular following the escalation of 26 March, notwithstanding the challenges in verifying cases owing to security and access constraints. Of the 762 verified cases of recruitment of children (all boys), the majority were attributed to the Houthis (72 per cent), followed by the pro-Government popular committees (15 per cent) and Al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (9 per cent)....
"The United Nations verified a sixfold increase in the number of children killed and maimed compared with 2014, totalling 1,953 child casualties (785 children killed and 1,168 injured). More than 70 per cent were boys. Of the casualties, 60 per cent (510 deaths and 667 injuries) were attributed to the Saudi Arabia-led coalition and 20 per cent (142 deaths and 247 injuries) to the Houthis. In 324 incidents, the responsible party could not be identified...."
Commentators at the time did not do the math. The gender ratio of the children killed indicated a breakdown of 30% civilian girls, 30% civilian boys, and 40% child soldiers [primarily Houthi]. The represents some 470 dead civilian children out of over 3,500 killed since the start of the Saudi air campaign.
Lama Fakih, a senior crisis adviser at Amnesty International, stressed that the coalition had been responsible for child deaths in Yemen. “We have seen for example attacks against schools rendering them unusable so that children have not been able to start the academic year. We’ve seen the Saudis also use banned cluster munitions which act as landmines when they are left in civilian areas and are particularly problematic for children, who mistake them for toys and move them around and end up being causalities of these weapons,” she said.
On 09 June 2016 UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon admitted that his decision to remove the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen from the organization's blacklist came after threats from a number of countries. A diplomatic source told Reuters on condition of anonymity that the UN was faced with “bullying, threats [and] pressure” from Riyadh, adding that it was “real blackmail.” The source also said there was a threat of “clerics in Riyadh meeting to issue a fatwa against the UN, declaring it anti-Muslim, which would mean no contacts of OIC [Organisation of Islamic Cooperation] members, no relations, contributions, support, to any UN projects [or] programs.”
On June 10, 2016 the UN human rights office released its latest figures on civilian casualties in Yemen, showing more than 3,500 people had been killed and nearly 6,300 wounded since Saudi Arabia’s bombing campaign against the Houthi rebels began in March of 2015. These figures were issued amid an international firestorm regarding Saudi Arabia’s responsibility for the high number of civilian casualties in Yemen, particularly child deaths.
The United Arab Emirates announced 15 June 2016 that the war in Yemen was over for its troops, after being a key ally in the Saudi-led coalition fighting Iran-backed rebels for over a year. An Arabic version of the statement, however, read that the war was only "practically" over. The United Arab Emirates clarified th next day that its role in the war in Yemen is not over, contrary to a statement made the day before that was allegedly taken out of context. "We are at war. I am appalled that my statement was taken out of context and misinterpreted for external agenda that seek to undermine the region and the GCC in particular," he state minister for foreign affairs, Anwar Gargash, told state-run WAM news agency.
The United Nations suspended peace talks 06 August 2016 between Yemen's Sunni government and Shi'ite Houthi rebels, after rebels moved forward with a unilateral plan to appoint a governing council in areas seized since fighting erupted in 2014. UN peace envoy Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed announced the suspension in Kuwait, saying he would work separately in the coming weeks with negotiators from both sides to reach agreement on key elements in a UN plan to establish peace on the Arabian peninsula.
Voicing concern about the rising civilian casualties, the U.S. military said 20 August 2016 that it had slashed the number of US advisers supporting the Saudi coalition. A US military spokesman in Bahrain told reporters the US contingent was cut from 45 military planners to fewer than five. A Pentagon spokesman said US cooperation with Saudi Arabia "is not a blank check."
On October 8, the Saudi-led coalition admitted to “mistakenly” bombing a funeral in Saana The “double-tap” strike on a mourning hall - in which a second bombing followed the initial strike - hit first responders, and killed at least 140 people and left more than 500 others injured. Fragments of a Mk-82 precision bomb produced by Raytheon, a major US defense contractor, was reportedly found at the scene. The hall bombing was the biggest officially recorded single loss of civilian lives in the coalition’s campaign in Yemen.
The Obama administration launched an immediate review of its support for the Saudi-led coalition fighting in Yemen, following the airstrike 08 Octobr 2016 that killed more than 140 mourners at a funeral in Sana'a, the capital, and wounded at least 500 others. US National Security Council spokesman Ned Price said "we are deeply disturbed by reports of today's airstrike" on a funeral hall, which appear to "continue the troubling series of attacks striking Yemeni civilians. US security cooperation with Saudi Arabia is not a blank check," Price said, adding that U.S. support for the Saudi-led operation in Yemen has already been "significantly reduced."
Renewal of Hope 2017
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