Yemeni War Report: Houthi-Saleh Conflict Leads To New Round Of Escalation

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Former Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh was killed amid fighting between his supporters and their former allies, the Houthi movement on December 4. Until recently, Saleh loyalists had been fighting alongside the Houthis in a war against the Saudi-backed president, Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi, but a dispute over control of the Yemeni capital of Sana’a on November 29 triggered armed clashes that have left more than 125 people dead. On November 2, Saleh offered to “turn a new page” with the Saudi-led coalition if it stopped attacking Yemen and ended its crippling blockade of the country. The Houthis accused him of a “coup” against “an alliance he never believed in”.

Sources in the Houthi forces said its fighters stopped Saleh’s armoured car with an RPG rocket outside the embattled capital Sanaa and then shot him dead. Sources in Saleh’s party confirmed he died in an attack on his convoy. His death marks a shift three years into a war in a state of stalemate. It risks the conflict becoming even more volatile.

Saleh, a former military officer, became the president of North Yemen in 1978 after a coup but, when north and south reunited in 1990, was elected as the first president of the new country. Saleh was an important player in Yemen’s descent into civil war, when his reluctant departure from power by the Houthis in 2012 brought his Saudi-backed deputy, Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi, into office. The Houthis fought a series of rebellions against Saleh between 2004 and 2010. They also supported an uprising in 2011 that forced Saleh to hand over power to Hadi.

But in 2014 Saleh forged an alliance with his former opponents, the Houthis, to facilitate their takeover of Sanaa and ultimately to force Hadi to flee to Saudi Arabia. While it lasted, the alliance benefited both sides. Saleh used Houthi firepower and manpower, while the Houthis gained from Saleh’s governing and intelligence networks.

In late November, that equation changed as Saleh moved to increase his power in Sanaa and signaled that he was swapping sides, seeking a dialogue with the Saudis and their allies. In a speech on December 2, Saleh appeared to indicate the end of his loyalists’ alliance with the Houthi fighters. He said he was ready to turn a “new page” in ties with the Saudi-led coalition fighting the Houthis, if it stopped attacks on Yemeni citizens and lifted a siege. For that moment, army units loyal to Saleh had been clashing with Houthi fighters few days already.

The war in Yemen has hit a stalemate, and it is hard to say which side is winning. The both sides cannot deliver a decisive blow to each other. Now, Saleh’s apparatus will likely be weakened and the Houthis will become the only power in northern Yemen.

On the other hand, the conflict between the loyalists and the Houthis is exactly what the Saudi-led coalition wants. Together Saleh’s forces and the Houthis were strong enough to hold on to Sanaa, repel the forces of the Saudi-backed government and its Gulf Arab allies and to conduct constant attacks against Saudi-led forces in Yemen and even against targets inside Saudi Arabia. Now, the military capabilities of anti-Saudi forces will be partly reduced.

Despite that, even if some part Saleh’s former forces ally themselves with the Saudis, that by itself won’t guarantee their victory. Indeed, this will mean that Yemen, a now near-permanently unstable and divided state, will become even more nagging a thorn in Saudi Arabia’s side, with constant threat of missiles and Houthi raids. Add to that growing power of Hezbollah and Iran in the region and you get difficult times for Saudi Arabia.

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  • Ivan Freely

    I can see Yemen broken up again.

  • Rob

    Yemeni people are dying due to starvation and disease. They have no food, clean water, medicines and medical facilities.

    Russia could use military ports and bases in Yemen / Sudan for the help of Yemeni people to get humanitarian aid from Russia.

    • Jeff Lewin

      Russia does not have enough tactical aircraft available to protect both western Russia and to counter the anti-Yemen coalition in the Middle East. Russian aviation operating from Khmeimim Air Base in Syria would not, otherwise, be able to reach Yemen without violating the airspace of neutral countries.

      An operation in Yemen would also require the RuAF to prepare to counter possible interventions by US and shitraeli aviation, however, at this stage, they cannot deploy aircraft in sufficient numbers to respond to all of these contingencies simultaneously.

      The Gulf Monarchs’ air bases are much closer to the conflict in Yemen than the Russians’ base in Khmeimim, which equals less commitment of fuel and time for each sortie. On a strategic level, the Arab antagonists’ advantageous location equates to a greater effective concentration of air power.

      For the RuAF to counter the air power of shitrael, the USA, and allied powers, they would have to accept China’s present offer of a military alliance, and signals personnel on the ground in w. Russia would have to learn to coordinate with Chinese aviation. This would seem to be the only means whereby the RuAF could deploy in sufficient numbers to revise the status quo of air power in the Middle East.

    • Jeff Lewin

      The shitraelis are also operating illegally nearby, from an island off the Yemeni coast, along the strategic shipping lane in the Red Sea, just north of the Bab El-Mandeb Strait. The island features a shitraeli naval presence, and a garrison of soldiers. My memory is unclear, but there may also be a military airstrip on the island.

    • Jeff Lewin

      Russia does not have enough tactical aircraft available to protect both western Russia and to counter the anti-Yemen coalition in the Middle East. Russian aviation operating from Khmeimim Air Base in Syria would not, otherwise, be able to reach Yemen without violating the airspace of neutral countries.

      An operation in Yemen would also require the RuAF to prepare to counter possible interventions by US and zionist aviation, however, at this stage, they cannot deploy aircraft in sufficient numbers to respond to all of these contingencies simultaneously.

      The Gulf Monarchs’ air bases are much closer to the conflict in Yemen than the Russians’ base in Khmeimim, which equals less commitment of fuel and time for each sortie. On a strategic level, the Arab antagonists’ advantageous location equates to a greater effective concentration of air power.

      The RuAF’s only strategically viable option for deploying enough aircraft to revise the status quo of air power in the Middle East, would probably have to involve accepting China’s present offer of a military alliance. In this scenario, signals personnel on the ground in w. Russia would have to learn to coordinate with Chinese aviation. In my hypothetical scenario of a Russian-Chinese alliance, there also are complications. Ground-based targeting operations that coordinate with artillery and aircraft involve some of the greatest risk, responsibility, and danger of all infantry operations. When the language barrier implied by operations with the aircraft of a foreign ally is added to the mix, the risks, and the potential for targeting errors, would likely increase.

      • Rob

        Due to volatile condition of the region Sudan and Yemen both are agree to allow their air bases and ports to Russia. This have been discussed few days ago in a meeting between Putin and Sudani president in Russia.

        • Jeff Lewin

          For the Kremlin, this development offers some prospects of applying pressure upon the Gulf Monarchs, but so far as the status quo of aviation, Russia still needs to maintain its air power in w. Russia as a deterrent against NATO.

          The RuAF might be able to outmatch the Gulf Monarchies by deploying to the Yemeni theater, but US and allied Coalition aviation would probably attempt to counter such a move.

  • Rob

    The treatment of Palestinian and Yemeni people is unfair, one sided and should not be tolerated. I stand with Palestine and Yemen. God protect both from evils. Ameen

  • Rob

    Saudis foreign policy controlled by America and Israhell. Why because America wants to sell their weapons and to take their oil money.

    If today Saudis say that we will import weapons from Russia instead of America then tomorrow there will be no war between Saudis and Yemen and there will be peace in the Middle East. American and Israhellis are Antichrists.

  • Rob

    Saudi government could join Iran and Russia. Saudi government should not make it too late like Ex president of Iraq Saddam Hussain, M Qadafi of Libya etc. Otherwise the damages to the Saudis government and whole nation that caused by America and Israhell will be too difficult to recovered.

    • FlorianGeyer

      Do the Saudi’s actually have any home grown scientists Rob?
      Apart from those in Tent Making research of course.

  • Pave Way IV

    Ceasefire? Negotiations? The UAE military never was ‘supporting’ Hadi’s forces, they are invading Yemen despite Hadi’s forces and taking control over them. The UAE forces occupy and control the south, they soon will occupy all of the coast and they intends to permanently occupy all of Yemen to protect whatever Saudi/UAE puppet they put in charge. Saleh’s position should have been: “Get the hell out of my country and take your puppet Hadi with you.” That’s what the Houthis and the Yemeni military allied with them in the north think. Saleh’s ‘peacemaking’ initiative most likely involved giving the entire Yemeni coastline to the UAE in exchange for promises not to bomb Saleh’s mafia in Sanaa (but they could continue to bomb the Houthis).

    The Saudis and UAE have spent millions in lobbying and the MSM to paint the conflict as a Yemeni civil war rather than what it really is: a full-blown invasion, occupation and total subjugation of the Yemeni people to their rule. They would have preferred that Yemenis just roll over and accept the puppet Hadi government as Yemeni’s legitimate one, but that scheme fell apart. The south only supported Hadi in the sense that it allowed them some power for independence from the north. They didn’t realize that it could end up turning into overt, permanent Saudi/UAE military presence and control. The south’s tolerance of the sell-out Hadi ended up stripping away Yemen’s sovereignty, allowing the UAE to move in under arms and enforce Yemen’s vassal-state status.

    • Starlight

      Yemen has always been the ‘powerless vassal’ of the Saudis. Did you know after Saudi Arabia (in its older form) could no longer get white slaves from the Russian territories (decline of the Turkish Empire), it used whitish slaves from Yemen as a replacement? What scares me about so many people on our side is how little they know about Earth’s history even pre-WW2.

      • Real Anti-Racist Action

        You are 100% right. Their is a solid historical history site dedicated to educating humans about all historical events, and not just a few hand selected ones desired for re-educating the masses.
        http://ihr.org/

  • Starlight

    More bottom up RUBBISH analysis, I’m afraid (read the newspapers before WW1 and WW2,and you’ll encounter exactly the same type of NONSENSE in BILLIONS of printed words that entirely missed the truth of the factors that would cause both wars).

    All you need to know about recent events in Yemen is that BRITAIN tried to end the war there by BUYING OUT the major players with ‘bribes’ worth tens of billions of pounds. The same tactic was used during Blair’s invasion of Iraq to turn as many leading Iraqis to the side of the invaders as possible.

    However, Iran, playing the Great Game, sabotaged Britain’s covert peace efforts. Iran want conflict at any cost in Yemen today, to keep the proxy war there as a buffer against hot war on Iran itself.

    Iran’s LOGIC…
    -Britain arranged the palace coup in KSA to lead to war on Iran.

    -The new KSA puppet has to convince enough KSA elites to go along with his plan to attack Iran.
    -the elites won’t do so while they can proclaim “KSA can’t even defeat a bunch of flip-flop primitives- how can we hope to take on Iran”
    -thus Britain needs the war in Yemen ended at any cost, and if this doesn’t happen, this road to war on Iran remains blocked.

    The FACT that the attacks on Iran will be by French, British and American planes and missiles doesn’t matter. The PRETENCE of a KSA attack on Iran is the necessary fuse needed to begin the war, and that requires KSA being willing to make the first move, and declare war.

    When I wrote my physics exams, my papers were the shortest and my marks the highest. My fellow pupils thought the more waffle you wrote the ‘cleverer’ you would seem. Logic doesn’t work like that. What is happening today is EASY to understand if you stop thinking like a Sunday newspaper article writer.

    KSA’a actual ambition over Yemen is simple to state- Yemen has always been the slave state of Saudi Arabia (like Korea to Japan)- so KSA wants to ensure Yemen never gets “upperty” and that’s it. So long as Yemen is a little bit crappy and servile to KSA, Wahhabi leaders are happy. That’s the regional situation. The greater geo-political chess game involving Iran and Britain is as stated above.