The return of battles in western Yemen and the position of the Houthi group

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Over the past period, the Houthi group rejected all diplomatic solutions and regional initiatives, including the Saudi initiative and the Joint UN Declaration, according to Martin Griffiths, the former UN envoy to Yemen at the time, as well as US proposals and international calls for a ceasefire and a comprehensive political settlement. The group decided to resolve the situation militarily.

Due to the cessation of military battles in Hodeidah, Taiz, Hajjah and Saada, the Houthi group pushed tribal groups and military forces towards Marib and overthrew some areas, but it was unable to seize strategic areas with oil reserves, but rather lost its human forces. Military leaders of the group told AFP that fourteen thousand and seven hundred Houthi fighters had been killed since last June until today, during battles with government forces in the vicinity of Ma’rib. Therefore, it can be said that the Yemeni National Army was able to partially remove the real danger from Ma’rib through its steadfastness in the face of intense Houthi attacks during the last period, and this means curbing the political and military ambitions of the Houthi group.

The Houthi group thought that the issue of military resolution was around the corner, especially as its armed groups were knocking on the gates of Marib, Saudi Arabia was preoccupied with its internal issues, and the Yemeni government formed under the Riyadh Agreement was disjointed. The Houthi group felt that the seizure of Marib means the defeat of the Arab coalition, the Yemeni government, and other local forces opposed to its project, and then closing the door to international moves aimed at ending the war through peaceful negotiation, and then the international community has no choice but to accept the fait accompli and deal with Al Houthi Although if this happened, it would only mean the country slipping into the square of civil strife and out of control the humanitarian situation, especially since famine threatens two-thirds of the country’s population.

Adding to the recklessness of the Houthi group, the sudden withdrawal carried out by the Arab coalition in Hodeidah, western Yemen, during the past few days, which led to the exit of the Yemeni government committee participating in the so-called “UNMHA” agreement on the redeployment in Hodeidah according to the Stockholm Agreement, in a statement in which it confirmed That “the withdrawal took place without her knowledge and without any coordination with her.” And the United Nations came out with another statement in which it confirmed that “the UN monitoring team was not aware of those withdrawals.”

But the military battles returned in a remarkable way after that sudden withdrawal, and the Tihamia forces and the national resistance, with the support of Saudi Arabia, made strategic military advances, and areas that had been in the hands of the Houthi group since about 2016 were restored. This remarkable military progress made one of the group’s leaders come out with a political statement, calling for a halt to the escalation, and accusing Washington of a military escalation. The group was not satisfied with this statement, but also stormed the US embassy in Sanaa and arrested its employees. She released some of them later, after strongly worded American and international statements, and the arrest process was nothing but a useless maneuver.

It is also noteworthy that Republican Representative Andrew Clyde issued a statement during the past few days calling for the necessity of including the Houthi group on the lists of “terrorist organizations.” A few days ago, the Security Council included a group of Houthi leaders on the list of sanctions for threatening peace and stability in Yemen. These international and US moves confused the political plans of the Houthi group, especially since it had obtained political support from the Biden administration by removing it from the terrorist list at the beginning of this year.

It is clear that the Houthi group wants to intensify its military operations to overthrow Marib, and does not want a military escalation in other areas of conflict, including Hodeidah and Taiz, because this will lead to its military defeat, as happened in Hays and other areas west of Taiz. Therefore, it demands respect for the Stockholm Agreement, which it has refused to implement since signing it at the end of 2018. This remarkable military progress of the Yemeni army proves that the Houthi group is not that strong as it portrays abroad, and were it not for the political differences between the Arab coalition and the Yemeni government, and between the latter and the Transitional Council, al-Houthi would not have been able to Continuing the military escalation towards Marib and Shabwa.

The Houthi group is also concerned about international moves aimed at implementing the military and security aspects of the Riyadh Agreement, as the US special envoy to Yemen, Tim Lenderking, confirmed earlier that “the Houthi group has not shown any real commitment to the peace process.” Currently, the Transitional Council has demanded And the Yemeni government is working to implement the Riyadh Agreement, and called for “joining hands to confront the common threats of Houthi provocations.” This development in the American discourse is an indication that the Biden administration has reached a dead end with the Houthis to accept a political settlement, and it has no choice but to resort to strict options to force them to engage in the negotiation process in good faith.

The arrival of the President of the Transitional Council to Riyadh and his meeting with the ambassadors of the permanent members of the Security Council, as well as the Saudi side, can be understood, and the talk focused on the necessity of implementing the Riyadh Agreement within the transformations of the new US position towards the Houthis. If the military and security aspects of the Riyadh Agreement are implemented, this will constitute a severe blow to the Houthis.

These military developments came in favor of the Yemeni government in western Yemen in the midst of the regional dialogue between Tehran and Riyadh, which is basically faltering, and the Saudi Foreign Minister’s statement that “the situation in Yemen has reached a diplomatic and military dead end,” and this is an indication that Saudi Arabia’s choices in Yemen are difficult, so It must convince Washington of the necessity of supporting it militarily and politically to force the Houthi group to accept peace, and initial indications suggest that Saudi Arabia is capable of doing so. Therefore, the Houthi group is concerned about US moves, including reconsidering the military support of Saudi Arabia and the Yemeni government, which made it worried.

It seems that the Houthi group may accept to sit at the negotiating table temporarily, in order to succeed in stopping this major international transformation, as well as the military operations against it in the west and center of the country until it regains its health, as happened in the Hodeidah agreement in 2018, and then returns to the military escalation. It does not appear that the Yemeni government will accept this kind of negotiation.

From the foregoing, it appears that the US administration may support the Arab coalition and the Yemeni government to advance militarily, and it is not excluded that the Houthi group will be included again on the list of terrorism, and this practically means allowing the coalition and the Yemeni government to make a military decision. Will Washington do this, thus preventing Iran from building another Hezbollah in southern Arabia, or will it leave Yemen prey to Tehran and abandon its Saudi allies? The coming days will be sufficient to answer this question, and we only have to wait, and that will not be long, because Yemen is a country of strangeness.

Quoted from TRT



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