Battle for Hudayda: A defining moment for the future of Yemen?

Discussion on the trajectory and consequences of the ongoing offensive in Hudayda, its potential effects on the humanitarian crisis, the challenges of stabilization, and its place within ongoing UN-led peace effort


Adam Baron, Visiting Fellow, ECFR

James Firebrace, Founder and Director, JFA Consulting

Helen Lackner, Author of “Yemen in Crisis” (2017)

Osama Al Rawhani, Programme Director, Sana’a Center for Strategic Studies

Chaired by

Ellie Geranmayeh, Senior Policy Fellow, ECFR

In recent weeks, Yemen’s more than three-year-old conflict has witnessed new escalation with a Gulf-led coalition offensive aimed at capturing the city of Hudayda, the last major port still under the control of the Houthis. The coalition casts the offensive as essential to pushing the rebels to engage in peace talks. Nonetheless, international aid organizations have warned that the fight for Hudayda could exasperate Yemen’s devastating humanitarian crisis, while diplomats worry that it may actually derail efforts by UN Yemen Envoy Martin Griffiths to open new talks.

How will the battle for Hudayda effect the dynamics of Yemen’s ongoing conflict? Can the potentially devastating shockwaves of an extended fight for the city be avoided? And what can Europe and other key international actors do to mitigate civilian suffering while continuing to push for a political resolution to the conflict?

Adam Baron (@adammbaron) is a Visiting Fellow for ECFR’s Middle East and North Africa Programme. Adam was previously based in Sana'a, Yemen, from 2011-2014 where he worked as a journalist, reporting for the Christian Science Monitor, the Economist and the McClatchy newspapers. He is a cofounder of the Sana'a Center for Strategic Studies (SCSS), a Yemen-focused research center.

James Firebrace is the Founder and Director of the consultancy James Firebrace Associates, which since 2005 has addressed several strategic issues for Yemen including oil and gas, coastal livelihoods, water scarcity and the future of the city of Taiz. In 2015 he set up the Yemen Safe Passage Group of former senior diplomats, academics and development professionals, arguing the case for the unimpeded flow of food, fuel and medicine into all areas of Yemen during the current war.

Helen Lackner (@helenlackner) has lived and worked in three Yemeni states for more than 15 years in the past half century. After a long career in social aspects of rural development in 30 countries, she is now focusing on research and writing. Her latest book Yemen in Crisis, Autocracy, Neo-liberalism and the Disintegration of a State was published by Saqi in October 2017.

Osamah Al-Rawhani (@OsamahAlrawhani) is the Programme Director of the Sana’a Center for Strategic Studies. For six years he was programme manager with the National Democratic Institute in Yemen, and following the 2011 uprising was heavily involved in initiatives to advance community engagement and citizen participation in the country’s political transition process.

Ellie Geranmayeh (@EllieGeranmayeh) is a Senior Policy Fellow for ECFR's MENA Programme. She focuses on European foreign policy in relation to Iran, particularly on the nuclear and regional dossiers. Her expertise also covers wider regional dynamics.