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Luncheon and roundtable discussion

Making Sense of the Yemen War, the Houthis & the Red Sea Conflict

Elisabeth Kendall with tribesmen in The Empty Quarter

The Mistress of Girton College, Dr Elisabeth Kendall, will host a luncheon and roundtable in San Francisco on April 15. Dr. Kendall is a world-renowned Arabist, Middle East expert and Yemen specialist, whose current research focuses on Arabic cultural production and non-state armed groups. She has spent significant time in the field, especially in Yemen.

RSVP: Please confirm your attendance by email to before Wednesday 10 April.  For those interested in attending the roundtable virtually, please email for online access.

‘Making Sense of the Yemen War, the Houthis & the Red Sea Conflict’

Just over a month after Hamas’ brutal attack on Israel and the subsequent war in Gaza, Yemen’s Houthis released a statement with an image of an Israeli ship on fire, vowing to ‘sink your ships’. Five days later, dramatic footage captured on the bodycams of Houthi hijackers and beamed around the world showed heavily armed ‘Houthi’ insurgents clad in black balaclavas jumping out of a helicopter onto the deck of a cargo ship affiliated with an Israeli businessman. Since then, the Houthis have launched missiles and drones at scores of ships, including many with no clear association with Israel or its allies, resulting in major disruption to global seabourne trade and retaliatory airstrikes by the US and UK.

The Houthis frame themselves as the heroes of Palestine and demand an immediate Israeli ceasefire in Gaza, but what is really going on? After nine years of civil war in Yemen which the international community barely noticed, despite the Houthis launching over a thousand missiles and drones at Saudi Arabia and striking targets inside the United Arab Emirates, suddenly the world is watching and wondering: who are the Houthis, what do they want, and where might this lead?

For a full list of alumni events during the Mistress’ USA trip please see our website: Events in the USA: 9th - 18th April 2024 | Girton College (