SANAA — A timeline of the conflict in Yemen since a 2011 uprising that toppled president Ali Abdullah Saleh, until his killing on Monday by former Houthi rebel allies.
Saleh Forced to Quit
Inspired by regional uprisings in the Arab Spring, Yemenis take to the streets in early 2011 to demand the departure of Saleh, who ruled the country with an iron fist since 1978. Under pressure from the Gulf monarchies, Saleh agrees in November 2011 to hand over power in exchange for immunity from prosecution for him and his family, after 11 months of protests and deadly clashes.
As he steps down, a presidential election is held in February 2012. Saleh’s deputy and only candidate Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi — seen as a man of consensus — is sworn in days later.
Rebellion Erupts, Sanaa Is Seized
Efforts to draw up a new constitution for Yemen face difficulties and tensions intensify. Rebels from Yemen’s Houthi minority launch an offensive in 2014 and push towards Sanaa from their northern stronghold of Saada, aiming to expand a hoped-for autonomy within a future federation. On September 21, 2014, they storm the capital and seize the government headquarters, state radio and military sites after days of clashes. More than 270 people are killed.
The rebels, backed by Iran, forge an alliance with forces loyal to Saleh, a former foe who cracked down on the Houthis while president. By January, the rebels and their allies have also taken control of the presidential palace. Hadi flees to Yemen’s second city, Aden, which he later declares as the “provisional capital”.
‘Decisive Storm’ and Failed Truces
On March 26, 2015, nine regional countries in a Saudi-led Arab coalition launch operation “Decisive Storm” with air strikes on the rebels to defend embattled Hadi and his internationally-recognised government. They claw back some territory but also have to deal with increasing attacks by extremists allied to Al-Qaeda and Daesh. The UN and US organise three rounds of fruitless peace talks over 2015 and 2016. Seven truces are agreed, but all are broken.
Cracks on Both Sides
Splits emerge in the rebel camp, with the Houthis on August 23, 2017 calling Saleh a “traitor” after he dismissed the Iran-backed group as a “militia” in a speech. The next day. hundreds of thousands of Yemenis attend a rally marking 35 years since the founding of Saleh’s General People’s Congress (GPC) in a major show of support.
The tensions erupt into clashes between the allies in which a colonel loyal to Saleh and two rebels are killed. Violence erupts anew on November 29 in Sanaa, killing and wounding dozens. On December 2, Saleh reaches out to the Saudi-led coalition battling the Houthis, offering to “turn the page” if it lifts a crippling blockade on the country. The Huthis accuse him of staging a “coup against our alliance”.
On Monday, President Hadi orders his forces to retake control of Sanaa. Saleh’s party says that Saleh has been killed, shot dead by Houthi fighters south of Sanaa after he fled the city for territory firmly controlled by his loyalists.