Terrorism & Insurgency

Ansar Allah actions undermine high-risk impact of Covid-19 in Yemen

25 March 2020

Key Points

  • The global Covid-19 pandemic poses a high risk to Yemen, even if cases still need to be confirmed.
  • Although rhetorically politicising information on the outbreak, operationally Ansar Allah is using the pandemic as a cover to impose new measures of control.
  • Meanwhile, instead of taking precautionary measures, Ansar Allah members and citizens from areas under its control seemingly continue to travel to Iran, where they have likely been exposed to the virus. This could severely curtail Ansar Allah's capabilities and operational activities, as well as populations in northern Yemen.

Although cases still need to be confirmed, the Covid-19 pandemic poses a high risk to Yemen. The likelihood of cases emerging is increasing as countries in the region, such as Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Bahrain, report growing infection rates.

From the perspective of insurgency groups in Yemen, such as Ansar Allah, the ongoing conflict and consequent humanitarian crisis in parallel with the Covid-19 outbreak could provide an excuse to impose new measures of control, as well as further politicise crisis response and humanitarian access. Moreover, as reflected in another recent Jane's piece, beyond politicisation, the Covid-19 pandemic also presents an opportunity for disruption, as recent attacks on health workers or response co-ordination meetings elsewhere by non-state armed groups (NSAGs) have shown.

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