I last wrote in December, shortly after the news that former president Saleh and at least one of his close allies in the GPC had been killed by Houthi gunmen. Some thought that this would lead to more chaos; others that it might help to clarify the situation, and perhaps ease the way to some sort of political process. It seems to have led to a hardening of the Houthi position, a clampdown in the north, increased reports of detentions of reporters and protesters, and further missile attacks by the Houthis on targets in Saudi Arabia responding to and provoking further bombings by coalition aircraft of civilian targets in various parts of Yemen.
More recently, there was news that the blockade that has restricted food and medical supplies to Yemen might be eased by the long awaited arrival of four mobile cranes at Hodeidah port, to replace those destroyed earlier on in the conflict. According to reports they should already be in service. However, shortages of fuel and damage to roads will still be obstacles to distribution of food and medicines to many areas.
In the last few days we have heard that the UN special envoy, Ismail Ould Shaikh Ahmed is to stand down shortly. Whether or not we think that he was the right man for an almost impossible job, he probably had an unfulfillable mandate from the UN, and we hope that his successor, now named as Martin Griffiths, a senior international mediator, might be more successful in opening the door to talks that might lead to a peaceful resolution.
As I sat down to write this, there were reports that the Southern Transitional Council, an informal body set up a few months ago with the ostensible aim of bringing some security and coordination to the southern governorates that once constituted the PDRY, had seized control of government offices in Aden, forcing members of Hadi’s government to flee. There was bloody fighting between the STC and forces loyal to Hadi but the situation may now have been partially resolved, and government offices returned to government control. The STC seem to have the support of the UAE, while the Saudis continue to support Hadi and his government. The STC have been frustrated by the failure of the government headed by PM Bin Daghr to provide security or services in the south, or to prosecute the battle with the Houthis in the north with any vigour.
B-YS News – Talks, the Chairmanship and the Secretary …
We do not yet have any firm programme of talks or presentations. Yemen’s Minister of Information, Moammar al-Iryani, has asked to address the Society, and we are hoping to set this up at the end of this month, February. It is hard to know if the recent clashes in Aden will mean that his plans change. We shall inform you by e-mail and the web site when the picture is clearer.
I shall be standing down as Chair of the B-YS Committee at the AGM having served for three years. We are keen to have volunteers or nominations for Committee places, and the chairmanship, in advance. But, even more importantly, our Secretary, Audrey Allfree, also hopes to be relieved in the course of this year. The Secretary’s job is crucial to our Society and we would love to have a volunteer to take on this job. Audrey will offer a helping hand over the changeover, and, with Treasurer John Huggins, we are in the process of making some of the Secretary’s tasks less onerous. Please get in touch with Audrey or me if you are interested in either position.