Sign up for our daily briefing

Make your busy days simpler with Axios AM/PM. Catch up on what's new and why it matters in just 5 minutes.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Denver news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Denver

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Des Moines news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Des Moines

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Minneapolis-St. Paul news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Twin Cities

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Tampa Bay news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Tampa Bay

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Charlotte news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Charlotte

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

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.

Details: The UAE, which has driven a military campaign that encircled the port and city, describes the Stockholm meeting as a “last chance” for the Houthis.

  • If the UAE is not satisfied with the outcome, they threaten to dispatch Yemeni forces poised on the outskirts of Hodeidah to take the port, arguing that this would deprive the Houthis of a critical revenue stream and thus force them to compromise.
  • This could happen as early as the coming holiday season, when the world is distracted.

To prevent this outcome, one of two things must happen: Either UN envoy Martin Griffiths negotiates a deal under which Hodeidah comes under UN control (something the Houthis have signaled openness to); or Saudi Arabia’s and the UAE’s Western allies pressure them not to launch the offensive.

What to watch: In the wake of the Nov. 29 Senate vote to advance a resolution ending U.S. participation in the conflict — and with anger growing at Saudi Arabia’s prosecution of the war, its murder of Jamal Khashoggi, and Trump's complacent approach to both — it has become more likely that Congress will force the administration's hand, lest the U.S. be viewed as complicit in the impending famine.

Robert Malley is president and CEO of the International Crisis Group. Peter Salisbury is a senior analyst on Yemen with the group.

Go deeper

Trump grants flurry of last-minute pardons

Photo: Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty

President Trump issued 73 pardons and commuted the sentences of 70 individuals early Wednesday, 11 hours from leaving office.

Why it matters: It's a last-minute gift to some of the president's loyalists and an evident use of executive power with only hours left of his presidency. Axios reported in December that Trump planned to grant pardons to "every person who ever talked to me."

Trump revokes ethics order barring former aides from lobbying

Photo: Spencer Platt via Getty

Shortly after pardoning members of Congress and lobbyists convicted on corruption charges, President Trump revoked an executive order barring former officials from lobbying for five years after leaving his administration.

Why it matters: The order, which was signed eight days after he took office, was an attempt to fulfill his campaign promise to "drain the swamp."

  • But with less than 12 hours left in office, Trump has now removed those limitations on his own aides.

Trump pardons former GOP fundraiser Elliott Broidy

President Trump has pardoned Elliott Broidy, a former top Republican fundraiser who pleaded guilty late last year to conspiring to violate foreign lobbying laws as part of a campaign to sway the administration on behalf of Chinese and Malaysian interests.

Why it matters: Broidy was a deputy finance chair for the Republican National Committee early in Trump’s presidency, and attempted to leverage his influence in the Trump administration on behalf of his clients. The president's decision to pardon Broidy represents one last favor for a prominent political ally.