Stories by Robert Malley

Expert Voices

Yemeni port under threat as peace talks begin in Sweden

Houthi representative outside site of Sweden talks
Saelem Mohammed Noman al-Mughalles, a member of the Houthi delegation, outside Johannesberg Castle in Rimbo, Sweden, on December 5, 2018. Photo: Stina Stjernkvist/AFP/Getty Images

Yemen’s Houthi rebels and its internationally recognized government arrived in Sweden Wednesday for talks that the UN hopes will restart the peace process that has been stalled for more than two years. But the talks could prove a sideshow if UAE–backed forces launch an offensive to seize the Red Sea port of Hodeidah from the Houthis, potentially precipitating a long and destructive battle and a humanitarian catastrophe.

Why it matters: Per the UN, some 14 million Yemenis, half the country’s population, are in “pre-famine” conditions, one economic shock away from starvation. A fight for the Hodeidah port — the entry point for around 70% of the food, fuel, and medicine shipped into Yemen — could tip the country into widespread famine.

Expert Voices

How the world might prepare for a Democratic resurgence

US House Minority leader Nancy Pelosi speaks during a press conference after Democrats took back control of the house in Washington, DC
House Minority leader Nancy Pelosi speaks after Democrats regained control of the House, on November 7, 2018. Photo: Nicholas Kamm/AFP via Getty Images

Americans were not alone in closely watching midterm returns. For much of the world, the election outcome was taken, rightly or wrongly, as a barometer of President Trump’s re-election chances and the impact of investigations by both Robert Mueller and a Democratic House.

The big picture: Russia, Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Israel are some of the countries that have invested most heavily in their relationships with Trump in an effort to fortify bilateral relations. But now that the omens regarding 2020 seem less favorable to Republicans, countries that banked on Trump might have to start hedging their bets by endearing themselves to the Democrats.

Expert Voices

With sanctions renewal, Trump administration bets on pressuring Iran

National Security Adviser John Bolton speaks during a White House news briefing at the James Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House October 3, 2018
National security adviser John Bolton speaks during a White House news briefing on Oct. 3 in Washington, D.C. Photo: Alex Wong via Getty Images

The Trump administration reimposed sanctions on Iran on Monday morning, marking another step in its maximum pressure campaign. Foreign companies have already decamped from Iran, with oil sales plunging even before this tranche of sanctions came into effect.

The big picture: The administration's ostensible end goal is not only to harm Iran’s economy, but also to bring about a change in the country's policies — namely its ballistic missile program and regional expansionism — or to its regime. While this latest round of sanctions will doubtless inflict considerable economic pain, the administration's bigger gamble is more uncertain.

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