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The Saudi victory announcement against the al Houthis in Aden is premature though there are signs that the al Houthis have lost momentum for the time being. Support for the reinstallation of a government under Saudi-backed President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi is not high among many of the popular resistance forces, and their successes in holding territory is questionable because of lack of support from locals. In turn, the Yemeni army and the popular committees rejected the claims that they had stepped back and reported an advance in al-Mansoura District in Aden Province.
1. July 14, Anti-al Houthi forces almost secured Aden following significant support through “Operation Golden Arrow.” The operation is the first major offensive in Aden since the al Houthis took control in March. Militants recaptured the al Mualla district and much of the Khormaksar district, including Aden international airport, and are continuing to clear Aden’s Crater and the al Tawahi districts.
2. July 15, The next task of Operation Golden Arrow may be the capture of Taiz. Local sources were reporting that there were warships at Mocha port with military assets to deploy to Taiz and that the Saudi Arabia-led coalition airstrikes were targeting the al Houthi-held al Berh Cement Factory, which overlooks the road from Mocha to Taiz.
3. July 14-15, Popular resistance forces seized control of Jabal al Jarah, a strategic location in Taiz city, and were attacking the Hawban area, which controls access to the eastern part of Taiz city and to the airport. For this particular operation, the US-backed Saudi coalition provided the Popular Resistance militias in Aden with armored vehicles from the United Arab Emirates and 300 additional troops.
4. July 15, al Houthi-loyal forces were gathering in the Usailayn district in Shabwah governorate after withdrawing from Ataq, the capital of Shabwah, and the Bayhan district. The al Houthi-loyal forces also withdrew from positions overlooking al Anad military base, which is between Taiz and Aden in Lahij governorate, though the move may be in preparation for a counter-offensive against Aden from the north. The fall of Taiz, however, would begin to isolate forces in al Anad.
5. July 16, Saudi warplanes carried out attacks on Mualla District in the southern Yemeni province of Aden. The air raid came after the Yemeni army and the popular committees rejected the claims that the port city of Aden had fallen into the hands of the Saudi-led coalition. Al Houthi forces report that they advanced in al-Mansoura District, Aden Province and gained control of the areas bordering al-Mansoura.
6. July 16, Saudi airstrikes against Yemen left a child dead and seven others wounded in the capital city of Sana’a, as Riyadh’s military keeps violating the UN-backed humanitarian ceasefire. Saudi jets bombarded al-Anasi District and al-Zahra Mosque in Sana’a. The building of Yemen’s Foreign Ministry, al-Dulaimi military airbase and Sana’a International Airport were also hit.
7. July 16, Saudi fighter jets attacked a mosque, a school as well as health and trade centers in the Munabbih district of Yemen’s northwestern province of Sa’ada. Also, Saudi Apache combat helicopters fired 14 missiles into the Shada and al-Manzala districts of Sa’ada.
8. July 17, Saudi Arabia reportedly sent Special Forces into Yemen under the pretext of escorting fugitive former Yemeni officials into the southwestern Yemeni province of Aden. The forces, which numbered 50, accompanied the officials on their way from the Saudi capital, Riyadh. Saudi Arabia may seek to re-install President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi’s government in Aden city to re-establish a foothold in Yemen.
Operation Golden Arrow has begun rolling back the al Houthis’ gains in southern Yemen, but its success is the question. The operation may not resolve the Yemeni conflict. The Sauidi-led offensive relies on popular resistance forces which are not present in north and central Yemen. Thus, they cannot expect a lot of support from locals. So, a re-unification of Yemeni factions under the Saudi-controlled central governance is a low-probability outcome.
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