The Tribal Dimension: The Role of Yemeni Tribes in Conflict Mediation

December 15, 2019

 

Tribal actors have historically played a crucial role in mediating disputes at the local level throughout Yemen. More than five years into Yemen’s brutal conflict, which has undermined executive authority across the country, Yemeni tribes are continuing to fill the security vacuum by maintaining law and order in their communities. As indigenous Yemeni stakeholders with local legitimacy, credibility and expertise in mediation, tribes are well positioned to play a strong supporting role in ongoing efforts to negotiate an end to the conflict. However, the tribal dimension has often been overlooked in internationally-backed efforts to reach peace in Yemen.

 

Our research indicates that inter-tribal feuds have increased throughout Yemen and that the ongoing national-level conflict has led to more instances of tribes aligning with one another based on shared ideologies, rather than through historical political patronage in their competition over scarce resources such as water or property rights. This report presents an overview of how tribal power has changed since the war began, and analyses the shifts that have occurred in different areas of the country. The report also examines the role of women in tribal dispute resolution, and concludes with recommendations for Yemeni and international stakeholders on how tribal actors can be better engaged in conflict resolution processes in Yemen.

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