Breakfast Briefing on Yemen

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Date: Thursday 23 July 2015

Time: 08:00 - 10:00

It had been hoped that Yemen could become an unlikely success story of the Arab Spring, as it appeared to be on track to complete an internationally-supported political transition. But the optimism that Yemenis could decide their future together, and through negotiation, has been dashed by a return to groups pressing their individual agendas by force of arms.

No single one has been more successful than the Huthis, who captured Sana’a in September 2014 and extended their control over much of the country. That prompted a Saudi-led Arab military campaign against them, which will struggle to achieve its objective even as the conflict – and its corresponding economic and humanitarian crisis – worsens.

The security and stability of Yemen are of prime importance to the GCC states, and to international trade passing through the Gulf of Aden and the Bab al Mandab. Al-Qa’ida in Yemen (AQAP) - part of which has transferred its loyalty to the Islamic State group (IS) - is the most dangerous of the Al-Qa’ida franchises, and has been using this conflict to portray itself as a defender of Sunni Islam against the Zaydi Shi’a Huthis. It has also maintained its capacity to mount terrorist attacks outside Yemen.

As the world searches for a solution, this Breakfast Briefing will cover:

  • Causes of the current crisis
  • Who are the Huthis and what do they want?
  • Why does former president Ali Abdullah Saleh remain influential?
  • Who are the forces opposing the Huthis?
  • The future of south Yemen after 25 years of unity
  • Al-Qa’ida and the Islamic State group
  • Implications for Yemen’s neighbours and the international community
  • Options for the future

Dr Noel Brehony, chairman of Menas Associates,  has been following events in Yemen since the 1970s and now edits our monthly Yemen Focus report. He is a former diplomat and former Director of Middle East Affairs for Rolls-Royce PLC. He was chairman of the British-Yemeni Society 2010-2015.  His book Yemen Divided  was published in 2011, and he is co-editing Rebuilding Yemen which is to be published by Gerlach Books in September 2015.