Fate of Yemen's Marib.. Regional Trends to Create New Balances


Fri, 12-02-2021 10:42 PM, Aden

Ayad Qassem

With the escalation of fighting around the center of Marib Governorate in North Yemen, between the Iranian-backed Houthi militia and the local forces loyal to President Hadi, several scenarios emerge that determine the fate of the political status quo if the city falls to the Shiite group.

Of a total of 14 districts in Marib, seven of its directorates, according to local media, are under the control of the Houthis. According to Agence France-Presse, the confrontations are more than 10 kilometers from Marib on the western side, and have left dozens dead and wounded on both sides.

Despite the fierce resistance shown by the local forces to the "Murad" tribes, which are supported by air cover by the Saudi-led coalition, the renewed recent fighting, after a lull that lasted for nearly three months, indicates regional and perhaps international trends to create new balances on the political and field levels.

The new military operation in Marib comes at a time when the administration of US President Joe Biden is moving in the direction of turning the US strategy on Yemen upside down, after it announced the withdrawal of US support to Saudi Arabia, Washington's ally, and withdrawing the Houthi designation as a terrorist organization.

A map showing the field situation and the areas of Houthi and government control in the Marib Governorate, until last September. (Tribes of Yemen)

Air attacks

At the same time, the Houthi group continues to intensify its missile and drone attacks on civilian sites and strategic installations within the territory of Saudi Arabia.

The most severe of these attacks coincided with the arrival of the US special envoy to Yemen, Tom Lenderking, in Saudi Arabia and his meeting with several Saudi and Yemeni officials. Last Wednesday, four drones targeted Abha International Airport. A Saudi civilian plane sustained major damage. The Houthi movement claimed responsibility for the attack, and claimed that it attacked military targets.

The Houthi attack was widely condemned, as it showed the Houthis' readiness to repeat the incident at Aden International Airport, on December 30, when three guided missiles bombed the airport terminal and runway during the arrival of the new parity government, killing and wounding more than 120 people, including journalists, aid workers and women.

The Houthi attack on Marib, in Yemen and on Saudi territory, came after a short visit by the United Nations envoy to Yemen, Martin Griffiths, to Tehran for the first time. During this period, he met with Iranian officials, with the aim of what Griffiths announced, "to reach a political solution to the conflict in Yemen through negotiation."