December 02, 2019

October 2019 Yemen Front Lines Map

Yemen’s frontlines have shifted minimally since December 2018. The al Houthis and Hadi government–aligned forces traded territorial gains and losses across northern and southern Yemen but past areas of conflict—including the area around al Hudaydah port—have remained relatively static. The al Houthis escalated real and claimed cross-border attacks against Saudi Arabia in summer 2019 but de-escalated in fall 2019 and are pursuing ceasefire negotiations with the Saudis. The al Houthis have continued to target Hadi government–aligned forces inside Yemen, possibly indicating an effort to deter an anti–al Houthi offensive. The Hadi government and a southern separatist faction reached a power-sharing deal in November 2019 and have since threatened to focus on the war against the al Houthis.

The below map shows the frontline between al Houthi areas (red) and Hadi government–aligned areas (grey). Blank areas on the map are sparsely populated.

Last updated on October 10, 2019.

Yemen at a Glance

Updated November 20, 2019

Yemen is historically a weak state and has fragmented over the course of its latest civil war, which is contributing to one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises. The current conflict is rooted in a fraught political transition in 2011, when longtime dictator Ali Abdullah Saleh stepped down amid Arab Spring protests. War broke out in 2014, when the al Houthi movement seized the capital and forced the internationally recognized government, led by President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi, into exile. Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), and a coalition of other Arab states intervened in 2015 to stop the al Houthi advance and attempt to return President Hadi to Yemen’s capital, Sana’a. Today, the al Houthi movement controls much of northern and central Yemen, including Sana’a. The al Houthi movement has grown closer to Iran over the course of the conflict as Tehran has provided advanced weaponry and other support. President Hadi’s government is weak. Few security forces respond to the Hadi government directly and many factions, some benefitting from Emirati or Saudi military assistance, pursue their own interests as part of an anti–al Houthi coalition. Meanwhile, al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula and the Islamic State are active in Yemen, where they exploit local conditions unrelated to the war with the al Houthis.

Both the al Houthi and anti–al Houthi blocs are fractious and marked by infighting. The al Houthi movement, which had forged an alliance of convenience with Saleh, split from the former president in late 2017, leading to his death. The al Houthi bloc includes some former Saleh supporters, but others defected. Al Houthi leadership itself can diverge, including on the issue of Iranian ties. Among the anti–al Houthi forces, southern separatist militias have strengthened during the current conflict. Southern forces seized Aden, the Hadi government’s de facto capital, in August 2019, leading to a stand-off until Saudi Arabia brokered a deal between the parties in November.