World roundup: April 18 2022
Stories from Yemen, Libya, Ukraine, and more
In today’s global news:
Worldometer is tracking COVID-19 cases and fatalities.
The New York Times is tracking global vaccine distribution.
In some rare good news, the United Nations said on Monday that Yemen’s Houthi/Ansar Allah group has agreed to implement an “action plan” to phase out its recruitment of child fighters. The plan calls for any children currently serving in combat for the rebels to be discharged within six months. It’s believed the Houthis have recruited thousands of children, some as young as ten, over the course of the Yemen war.
The Arab Center’s Imad Harb suggests that the ouster of Yemeni President Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi in favor of a presidential council in part about getting the Yemeni government’s two biggest patrons, Saudi Arabia and the UAE, back on the same page:
In other words, the council’s future work will likely be contingent upon the continued agreement between Riyadh and Abu Dhabi, a tall order when compared to the record of their activities, cross purposes, and preferences over the last few years. For the sake of the new arrangement, Saudi Arabia prevailed upon Mansour Hadi to, first, sack his vice president, the Islamist Islah Party-aligned Ali Mohsen al-Ahmar, and second, accept the council with diluted Islah influence, all for the purpose of satisfying the UAE and its allies in the country. On the other hand, the UAE scaled back its Yemeni ambitions by convincing its protégés—such as al-Zubaidi—to participate in a council signifying a unified Yemen, a Saudi strategic desire. The two countries also pledged $3 billion in assistance to Yemen ($2 billion by Saudi Arabia and $1 billion by the UAE) in order to give the council necessary tools to help ameliorate what have been dire economic conditions for the last decade.
Additionally, Saudi Arabia and the UAE had to find a way of limiting the Houthis’ strength and reach, considering that their own efforts since 2015 and those of the Mansour Hadi-aligned troops have not been able to do that. Both countries have sustained embarrassing attacks by the Houthis, despite continued coalition bombardment and air strikes on the insurgent Ansar Allah. The latter’s drones and missiles struck targets in Saudi Arabia and the UAE last January, causing death, destruction, and disruption. Last March, a six-hour attack by the Houthis hit targets in Saudi Arabia’s Jeddah and Riyadh, including ARAMCO, the crown jewel of the kingdom’s oil industry. And these came on top of many others over the last few years that have not only shown the Houthis to be tough opponents but also necessitated addressing the double failure by the coalition and Yemeni authorities to stop Ansar Allah.