On January 28, the Saudi-led coalition’s ground offensive against the Houthis (Ansar Allah) in central Yemen came to a surprising end when the United Arab Emirates (UAE)-backed Giants Brigades concluded their operation in the region.
“After the end of Operation Southern Storm, the southern Giant Brigades are redeploying in Shabwah and transferring their brigades to their lair [main base] with high readiness,” the Giant Brigades said in a brief statement.
Operation Southern Storm, which began on January 1, covered the provinces of Shabwah and Ma’rib. In the course of the operation, the Giants Brigades and other proxies of the Saudi-led coalition captured the district centers of Usaylan, Bayhan and Ain in Shabwah and the district center of Harib in Ma’rib.
A Yemeni source told the al-Mayadeen TV that the decision to end Operation Southern Storm was made by the UAE following threats by the Houthis.
“The attacks on the Emirati depth and Sanaa’s threats to repeat it, forced the UAE to stop its military operations in Yemen,” the unnamed source said.
The Houthis attacked the UAE twice in less than ten days. On January 17, the Houthis launched several drones and missiles at Abu Dhabi. The attack killed three people and caused some material losses. On January 24, the Houthis launched a second attack with drones and missiles. This time however, the attack was foiled.
After the second attack, the group threatened foreign investments and key attractions in the UAE, including Expo Dubai and the Burj Khalifa.
The end of Operation Southern Storm is somewhat an achievement for the Houthis. However, the Giants Brigades could ignore their announcement and continue their offensive in Ma’rib in the coming few days. Such a move will likely provoke a fierce response from the Houthis.
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