The war in Yemen has spilled over into Saudi Arabia and continues to drag on. It is no longer confined to the Saudi coalition versus the Houthi alliance but Al Qaeda, target of the drone war, controls almost the entire eastern half of Yemen, including Mukalla, the capital of Hadramout province. Initially, the Saudi coalition included AQAP against the Houthi alliance but some fighters have joined IS/Daesh, (typically) targeting all sides and this complicates a negotiated settlement.
The war has restored the popularity of Saleh, one of the main players in the Houthi alliance, whereas Hadi is resisting talks. His popularity is waning and talks may end his political aspirations. This is posing a serious challenge to the Saudi coalition, explaining their all-out pursuit of victory.
The past week saw a major change in strategy in that the Houthi alliance are now holding territory and military bases and have also surrounded towns and villages in southwestern Saudi provinces. Earlier, they withdrew after such attacks.
The Houthi progaganda argues:
The Houthi alliance continues to score significant gains in its response to Saudi Arabia’s invasion of the country. The Saudi coalition casualties are near 2,000 dead and 5,000 wounded. It also lost 450 tanks, 4 helicopters and 15 other aircraft. As much as 7 navy ships were also sunk and damages are estimated to almost 200 billion Saudi riyals.
Even if 10% of this is true, it shows that the Saudi-led coalition just can’t defeat its opponents in Yemen.
Saudi Arabia launched a huge PR campaign, including pro-Saudi think tanks inside Washington, to help cover its failings in Yemen.
ISIS released a series of execution videos showing Houthi alliance fighters, battling both the government and AQAP, been executed in different sickening scenarios in a desert location. Six fighters were blown up by a rocket launcher, another six were sent out to sea and the boat exploded, four were obliterated by the mortar shells hung around their necks and nine were beheaded with sharp knives.
Al Qaeda’s branch in Yemen put a bounty on the head of a pro-government force in the south as it seeks to impose itself as the dominant force in the conflict.
The Penal Court in the capital Sana’a has indicted seven fugitive co-defendants, including fugitive President Hadi, for their participation in the aggression against the Yemeni people and the destruction of its infrastructure. The next hearing is scheduled for December 12, 2015.
Written by Akram Abu Abs exclusively for SouthFront
- December 3, the Houthi alliance (including the bulk of the Yemeni army backed by popular committees) surrounded the Saudi cities of Najran and Jizan in response to Riyadh’s deadly aggression and they are quite ready to capture these cities and may embark on even larger scale operations. They are also in discussions to restore ceasefires in two volatile districts of Ma’rib. Attempts by the Saudi coalition to seize the al-Omari camp north of the Bab al-Mandeb Strait were repelled.
- December 3, Saudi coalition bombing of the Technical Institute of Haifan in Ta’izz province killed two and injuring seven others. Raids on Shamer Mount in al-Misrakh, Azzan area, a medical center in Khader district and citizens’ farms in al-Hanaisha, Dhubab led to damages but no reports of casualties as yet.
- December 3, the Houthi alliance forces crossed the border and captured Malhama, al-Radif and al-Mamoud military bases in Jizan, al-Rabou’a military base in Asir and Nahouqa military base in Najran provinces. Subsequently, three more 3 Saudi military bases and a military camp in al-Shurfa, Najran was taken and military vehicles destroyed.
- December 3, Al Qaeda made fresh gains in southern Yemen taking advantage of the war and breakdown of central government authority, seizing territory and extending its influence. They manned checkpoints outside Zinjibar and nearby Ja’ar after storming the two cities.
- December 3, AQAP fighters captured the towns of Zinjibar and Jaar (near Aden) from Saudi-coalition forces. The attack was expected and AQAP fighters planned the takeover of Abyan province since it was captured from the Houthi alliance by the Saudi coalition in July.
- December 5, in a renewed assault on Sana’a, Saudi coalition airstrikes targeted a number of residential areas in Wadi Ahmed Dariss in Thawrah district, causing damage to many houses. Modam and Dhelaa in Hamdan, Sana’a province were also targeted.
- December 5, the government and its Gulf allies of the Saudi coalition are struggling to impose their authority in Aden teeming with gunmen, who carried out two shootings killing a prominent judge in an anti-terrorism court and his two sons inside a supermarket in Mansura, Aden. Earlier, gunmen also killed a military police colonel in Mualla, Aden. AQAP, and more recently IS/Daesh claimed credit for the attacks in Aden.
- December 5, another Saudi warship was destroyed of the Ta’izz province coast, bringing the total to 7.
- December 5, Morocco promised to send 1,500 ground troops in support of the Saudi coalition. It will include paratroopers and will be transferred within a few days. Moroccan involvement to date was limited to air strikes.
- December 6, a convoy of the governor of Aden was hit by a large explosion in Tawahi, Aden. The official and several of his aides were killed in the attack, claimed by IS/Daesh after they took up positions at the entry to the municipality. The bomb may have been planted inside the governor’s car but others suggest that it was caused by a rocket propelled grenade or a suicide bomber.
- December 6, a number of Saudi coalition soldiers were killed, store weapons burnt and a number of missile launchers destroyed when Houthi alliance artillery forces pounded Saudi military sites in Nahoqa and al-Ash. Snipers killed a number of Saudi soldiers at al-Shabakah military site in Najran. The Saudi sites of Al-Burj Al-Abyad, al-Sela’ah, al-Bahtit, al-Qarn and al-Ma’anq were targeted with dozens of rockets. The Malta military site in Asir was also hit and suffered great losses of life and ordnance. The al-Radif center in Jizan was also destroyed by the engineering teams.
- December 6, the Saudi coalition destroyed a Scud missile carrier heading towards the Saudi-Yemeni border. They also made advances in Sirwah west of Ma’rib city after heavy clashes.
- December 7, the Saudi coalition launched over 60 air raids on Ma’rib province targeting houses and farms in Serwah, and the main road between Sana’a and Ma’rib provinces.
- December 8, six Colombian troops and an Australian commander were been killed in clashes with the Houthi alliance in the al-Amri region, Bab-el-Mandeb area in Ta’izz province.
- December 8, the Houthi alliances fired two locally-made Sarkha missiles at al-Ayn al-Hara camp and Sala’ah military site in Jizan, hitting their targets among soldiers and equipment. Their artillery also targeted a gathering of troops and vehicles at al-Ramdha military center in Jizan, as well as a number of military sites south of al-Khouba area.
The Coordination Authority for Children’s Rights NGO in Yemen has condemned the continuation of the Saudi-led aggression and the air, land and sea blockade on Yemen. It called on the international community and the UN Security Council to interfere to stop the aggression and prevent more civilian casualties as well as lifting the blockade and allowing relief and humanitarian needs access to the affected areas all over the country. This authority represents 45 civil organizations working in Yemen and concerned on children rights.
Peace talks will convene on December 15 aimed at ending eight months war in Yemen. Previous U.N.-mediated negotiations to end the conflict failed as battles rage across the country.
The Houthi alliance represenatives said the alliance will not attend the peace talks in Switzerland unless Saudi Arabia stops its assault. They added that the UN is unable to end Saudi aggression against Yemen.
In a Press TV interview, an activist and political commentator in Sana’a said that the reason for the start this war is that Saudi Arabia and its coalition, with the United States, UK and France realized that the Houthi alliance consisting of the Houthi, Ansarullah, the bulk of the Yemeni and popular committees have cleared many areas in the south like Abyan, Shabwah, Lahij and Aden from al-Qaeda members.
The Saudi coalition and their supporters have never targeted any members of al-Qaeda and facilitated their free movement in the east and Hadhramaut in particular. Lately, al-Qaeda seized and now control areas previously under the Houthi alliance’s control and are using weapons and Humvees provided by the United Arab Emirates to attack and target civilians in the south.
Until now there are no attacks from the Saudi coalition against al-Qaeda or IS/Daesh who move freely in large convoys across the south.