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Thursday, 13 August 2015

'The world is failing Yemen': Saudi Arabia desperate to escalate war as Yemeni rebels refuse to buckle

Bruce Riedel

Saudi Arabia and its Gulf allies are escalating the war in Yemen. The Houthi rebels and their allies show no sign of bending to the will of Saudi Arabia's King Salman bin Abdul-Aziz Al Saud after more than four months of war. The grim struggle in Yemen goes on with a frightful toll for the Yemeni people. The Saudis and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) are pouring arms into Aden, Yemen's second-largest city, and expanding their foothold there to the north. They seized a large Soviet-built air base north of Aden at Al-Anad. The air base is on the main road to Taiz, the next Saudi military objective. In Taiz, forces loyal to President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi claim to control much of the city, Yemen's third-largest and the historic second capital of North Yemen. The UAE has deployed over 1,500 of its own troops to the Aden front, the first time the coalition has placed its own ground forces into the battle. 

The Saudis have trained Hadi loyalists and equipped them with tanks and other armored vehicles to open another front in Marib governorate in the northwest of the country.

The Saudi gains so far have been outside the Zaydi Shiite heartland of the Houthi rebels.

Sanaa remains firmly in the rebels' control. The leader of the Zaydi Houthi rebels, Abdul-Malik al-Houthi, gave a speech this week to his followers, promising, "We are in a great battle in which we must use all our efforts." He acknowledged the Saudis and their allies had retaken the southern port of Aden but said, "The enemy threw all their weight to gain a limited achievement." Houthi accused the Saudis and their ally, Hadi, of working with both Israel and the Islamic State (IS) to take Aden. He called for an internal Yemeni political solution to the war.


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