AFP
Wire Service
4 minute read
8 Apr 2022
3:00 am

Timeline of a brutal war: Yemen’s seven-year conflict

AFP

The conflict has left about 380,000 people dead, according to the United Nations.

Forces loyal to Yemen's Huthi rebels take part in a military parade marking the seventh anniversary of the Saudi-led coalition's intervention in their country, in the capital Sanaa, on March 31, 2022. (Photo by MOHAMMED HUWAIS / AFP)

Yemen has for more than seven years been mired in a war pitting Iran-backed rebels against government forces supported by a Saudi-led military coalition.

The conflict has left about 380,000 people dead, according to the United Nations, either directly in the fighting or as a result of famine and disease.

2014: Rebels take capital

The Huthi rebels advance from their stronghold in Yemen’s northern mountains to seize the capital Sanaa in September 2014.

They ally themselves with forces loyal to ex-president Ali Abdullah Saleh, who was toppled in a 2011 uprising, before overrunning the lifeline Red Sea port of Hodeida.

2015, Hadi flees, Saudi enters

In February 2015, President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi flees to second city Aden, on Yemen’s south coast.

A coalition led by Iran’s bitter enemy Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates enters the conflict in March 2015 with air strikes targeting the rebels.

Washington says it is contributing logistics and intelligence.

As the rebels advance on Aden, Hadi flees to Saudi Arabia.

The coalition’s intervention helps pro-government forces secure Aden.

In October, coalition forces take control of the Bab al-Mandab strait at the southern gates of the Red Sea, one of the world’s busiest and most strategic waterways.

2018: Battle for key port

In June 2018, government fighters backed by coalition ground forces launch an offensive to retake Hodeida, a key entry point for humanitarian aid.

In December, following negotiations in Sweden, the UN announces a ceasefire in Hodeida.

But it is marred by clashes between rebels and pro-government soldiers.

Separatists flex muscle

The anti-Huthi camp is divided between southern separatists and northern unionists loyal to Hadi’s government.

The separatists occupy the presidential palace in Aden in January 2018, before Saudi and Emirati forces intervene.

In August 2019, Emirati-backed separatists again clash with unionist troops.

Riyadh negotiates a power-sharing agreement and the formation of a new government.

2019: Saudi oil hit

The rebels escalate their attacks on Saudi Arabia, using drones and missiles.

A major hit on September 14, 2019 on the giant Abqaiq oil processing plant and Khurais oil field halves the kingdom’s crude output.

Riyadh and Washington accuse Iran of being behind the attack, which it denies.

2021: New escalation

In February 2021, the US ends its support for the coalition’s military operations and removes the Huthis from a “terrorist” blacklist.

Shortly afterwards, the rebels resume an offensive to seize Yemen’s oil-rich Marib province, the government’s last northern stronghold.

2022: Rebels turn on UAE

In January 2022, the rebels take aim at the UAE, first seizing an Emirati-flagged vessel in the Red Sea and then carrying out a drone and missile attack on an oil facility in Abu Dhabi that kills three workers.

In February, Washington announces it is sending the destroyer USS Cole and fighter jets to Abu Dhabi to bolster its defences.

More attacks on Saudi

In March, the rebels carry out a new series of drone and missile attacks on Saudi oil facilities, one of which triggers a huge fire near Jeddah’s Formula One circuit with drivers on the track.

Truce

On March 26, the rebels call a unilateral three-day truce.

On March 29, the Saudi-led coalition announce their own ceasefire, which coincides with the opening of talks in the Saudi capital that the Huthis declined to attend.

A UN-brokered ceasefire, the first nationwide truce since 2016, starts on the first day of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan on April 2.

The Saudi-led coalition also agrees to allow fuel shipments into Hodeida and commercial flights to resume from the rebel-held capital Sanaa, key rebel demands.

The two sides trade allegations of violations but the ceasefire largely holds.

New leadership

On April 5, President Hadi announces from Riyadh that he is handing his powers to a new leadership council. 

He says the new body, which will be led by former interior minister Rashad al-Alimi will negotiate with the Huthis “to reach a ceasefire all over Yemen” and “a final political solution”.

Saudi Arabia welcomes the announcement and pledges $3 billion in aid and support, some of it to be paid by the United Arab Emirates.