Battle for Yemen’s Maarib Derailing US Peace Efforts

Combatants want to resolve key fight before talks

US efforts to try to get a ceasefire and some peace talks going in Yemen continue to struggle, according to those familiar with the situation, as the focus continues on fighting over the key northern city of Maarib.

The US has been pushing for a ceasefire since March, and is keen to no longer be involved in that war. The Saudis have at least been open to a settlement, and the Houthis seemingly were too. Then fighting in Maarib escalated to the point that the Houthis seemed to have a real chance of taking it.

There’s a lot of fighting and huge tolls, but cities don’t change hands in Yemen very often. With Maarib as effectively the last pro-Saudi city in the north, the symbolism of it falling makes it potentially an even bigger deal, and that’s led the Houthis to focus on it.

Peace has taken a back seat, with both sides hoping that a win in Maarib will give them strong momentum going into any talks held afterwards. The problem is that even escalated fighting hasn’t made the battle resolve any quicker, and time that could be used to make peace is being squandered in hopes of a decisive battle.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for He has 20 years of experience in foreign policy research and his work has appeared in The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.