2015-2016 Yemen Conflict

Followers of the Shi'ite Houthi group wave their weapons as they gather near the group's camp in Sana'a, September 10, 2014. (Reuters)

The Critical Threats Project has been tracking developments closely in Yemen as they unfold. Regular analysis of the crisis will be posted below.


Ongoing Developments

Yemen Crisis Situation Reports, updated as needed

Gulf of Aden Security Review, updated daily

Yemen’s Military and Foreign Intervention

Yemen Frontline: October 2016, October 2016

Saudi Unit Deployments to the Yemeni Border, June 2015

Saudi-led Intervention in Yemen: Order of Battle, April 2015

Yemen Order of Battle, February 2015

Iran in Yemen

Iranian Involvement in Missile Attacks on the USS Mason, October 19, 2016

Signaling Saudi Arabia: Iranian Support to Yemen's al Houthis, April 15, 2016

Why is Iran's Former Police Chief Heading a Humanitarian Mission in Yemen?, July 17, 2015

Iran’s Mohsen Rezai Writes Open Letter to Yemen’s Abdul Malik al Houthi, March 30, 2015

Read more on Iran.

US Policy

Escalation in the Red Sea: Yemen's Civil War, Iran and Saudi Arabia, October 14, 2016

A New Model for Defeating al Qaeda in Yemen, September 10, 2015

AQAP Jailbreak is Just Another Problem for Yemen, April 2, 2015

5 Questions Every Presidential Candidate Should Answer: Yemen Edition, March 26, 2015

The Yemen Mess is Sparking a Full-Fledged Regional War, March 26, 2015

Why America’s Yemen Policy is Failing, February 13, 2015

In Yemen, No Good Options Are Left, January 22, 2015

Don’t Replicate the Failure of Yemen, September 11, 2014

Obama’s Counterterrorism Strategy is Already Failing, September 11, 2014

Yemen Model Won’t Work in Iraq, Syria, July 16, 2014

Yemen’s Pivotal Moment, February 12, 2014


Challenging the Yemeni State: ISIS in Aden and al Mukalla, June 9, 2016

AQAP Expanding Behind Yemen's Frontlines, February 17, 2016

AQAP: A Resurgent Threat, September 11, 2015

Exploring ISIS in Yemen, July 24, 2015

Ramadan Bombings in Yemen: Part of ISIS's Global Strategy? June 17, 2015

Desknote: The Growing Threats of ISIS in Yemen, May 6, 2015

ISIS in Yemen: Fueling the Sectarian Fire, March 20, 2015

Al Qaeda’s Role in Paris Attacks Underscores Failings of Counterterrorism Strategy, January 14, 2015

AQAP Hostage Somers is a Symptom of Yemen Model Problems, December 4, 2014

Warning: AQAP’s Looming Threat in Yemen, August 14, 2015

AQAP’s Campaign against the Yemeni Military, July 7, 2014

Read more on AQAP.

Al Houthi Areas of Influence, updated as needed

Sana’a Under Siege: Yemen’s Uncertain Future, September 25, 2014

The al Houthi Victory in Amran, July 9, 2014

Yemen’s Counter-Terrorism Quandary, June 26, 2014



Province Ties to the Islamic State Core: Islamic State in Yemen

By Katherine Zimmerman, November 14, 2016

The Islamic State is present in Yemen and will likely remain so for the foreseeable future. That reality may well lead U.S. policymakers to see Yemen as a front in the counter–Islamic State fight. That would be a mistake.

Iranian involvement in missile attacks on the USS Mason

Iran almost certainly played a role in the missile attacks against the USS Mason near the Bab al Mandab Strait on October 9 and October 12. . Iran likely supplied the missiles and, at the very least, Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps Quds Force (IRGC-QF) or Lebanese Hezbollah operatives provided technical expertise and modifications in support of those who launched the attack.

Escalation in the Red Sea: Yemen’s Civil War, Iran, and Saudi Arabia

By Katherine Zimmerman, Emily Estelle, October 14, 2016

The deliberate targeting of U.S. Navy vessels from al Houthi-Saleh–controlled territory is a significant inflection in the Red Sea and a sign that Yemen’s civil war is becoming tangled in regional dynamics and conflicts. It does not make sense when seen in the context of only one the conflicts—the Yemeni civil war, the Iranian-Saudi conflict, and Iran’s more aggressive posturing in the region.

Yemen Frontlines: October 2016

By Katherine Zimmerman, October 6, 2016

The frontlines of Yemen’s civil war have remained relatively fixed because neither side has the military strength to extend its influence significantly beyond the borders of its support base.

Yemen Warning: Sana'a Offensive

By Nicholas Jonsson, Bailey Palmer, July 15, 2016

Yemeni military forces loyal to President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi will likely launch an offensive to seize control of the al Houthi-Saleh—controlled capital, Sana’a, in the coming weeks.

Challenging the Yemeni State: ISIS in Aden and al Mukalla

ISIS is prosecuting a campaign in Yemen designed to elevate its position on the global stage and compete with one of al Qaeda’s strongest affiliates. ISIS will likely surge in Yemen during Ramadan 2016 and attempt to derail ongoing efforts to bring stability and security to southern Yemen.

Signaling Saudi Arabia: Iranian Support to Yemen’s al Houthis

By Katherine Zimmerman, April 15, 2016

Iranian activities in Yemen are not about Yemen. They are, rather, part of the regional struggle between Saudi Arabia and Iran that is now playing out on battlefields and in political and diplomatic arenas throughout the Middle East.

AQAP Expanding behind Yemen's Frontlines

By Katherine Zimmerman, February 17, 2016

AQAP is well on its way to reconstituting the emirate it held in 2011 and 2012 almost unnoticed by the outside world. U.S. airstrikes have had no effect at all on its expansion and have not significantly degraded the group’s ability to target the United States. AQAP is becoming an ever-more serious threat to American national security, and no one is doing much about it.

2016 Yemen Crisis Situation Reports

By The Editors , January 7, 2016

An archive of the 2016 Yemen Crisis Situation Reports.

AQAP: A Resurgent Threat

By Katherine Zimmerman, CTC Sentinel, September 11, 2015

Al Qaeda’s Yemen-based affiliate has been quietly expanding as the country descends further into civil war. It may be one of the few beneficiaries of Yemen’s collapse, other than the Islamic State, which is developing its own Yemeni franchise.