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Former president of Yemen, Ali Ahmed Saleh, was killed in the Yemeni capital Sanaa at the beginning of December. There had been growing discord in his alliance of convenience with the Houthi rebels in the conflict, which has been raging since early 2015.

The Saleh family had been negotiating with Gulf supporters of the officially-recognised Government and had indicated that he might consider changing sides. The move looked unprepared, however, as Houthi military forces routed his troops in the Yemeni Capital Sanaa, and he was killed.

His death has brought some opponents of the Houthi rebels together and the Saudi-led coalition supporting the officially-recognised Government made some progress in December. The main result, however, appears to have been an intensification of bombing by the Saudi air force, the effectiveness of which analysts have questioned.

Analysts also fear that it will be even more difficult to negotiate a solution to the bloody conflict without the skills of Ali Abdullah Saleh.

Meanwhile, the suffering of the Yemeni people continues to grow. Agencies warn that Yemen is the biggest humanitarian crisis in years, and that the country is on the brik of famine – 400,000 children are in danger of starving to death according to Unicef.

The future of the country has increasingly been called into question, as reports suggest that the UAE may be backing secession for the south; a referendum has been mooted. That would spell a divergence between Saudi Arabia and the UAE.

For further background see the Commons Briefing Paper Yemen at War, April 2017, also Yemen update June 2017.

The Commons Briefing paper The legal and regulatory framework for UK arms exports, September 2017, is also relevant.


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