Marib is about to fall, Riyadh plans to divide South Yemen

Reports

Sun, 25-04-2021 07:01:02 Evening, Aden Time

Al Mukalla (South24)

Military experts suggested that the remainder of the Marib governorate would fall to the Iranian-backed militia, after a remarkable advance by the Houthi fighters during the past hours, north of the city of Marib. Media said that the Houthis approached the gates of the last stronghold of the weak forces of Yemeni President Hadi.

This came in conjunction with the return of the Yemeni Prime Minister, Maeen Abdul-Malik, on Sunday, to Al-Mukalla Airport in Hadramawt Governorate, east of Aden, amid disputes within the government.

The new government, which was formed on December 18 last year, emerged from the Riyadh Agreement, signed between President Hadi and the Southern Transitional Council (STC), which calls for the independence of South Yemen.

The fall of the last bastion of Hadi

The French agency (AFP) said, on Sunday, that the Houthis had taken control of the Kasara front, northwest of the governorate, and that they were approaching the city center. AFP said that the group's forces are now less than six kilometers from the city of Marib, despite the air support provided by the Saudi-led Arab coalition to government forces.

But the governmental and Saudi media deny this progress. "The Yemeni army announced field gains in several fronts in six governorates, the most prominent of which is Marib," the Saudi Press Agency said, earlier today.

The loss of Marib, according, if it happened, would constitute a very painful blow to the internationally recognized government and its Saudi ally, and it will tangibly strengthen the group's positions in any future negotiations.

The Yemeni Prime Minister and a number of his ministers arrived on board a military plane of the Saudi Air Force this afternoon in the city of Mukalla, Hadramawt governorate, South Yemen.

An informed source told “south24” early Sunday that the possible return of the Yemeni PM to Mukalla, would spark widespread disagreements within the ranks of the fragile government, especially with the STC, which demanded on Saturday the importance of “presence a parity government in Aden.”


Yemeni PM and a number of ministers return to Mukalla in Hadramout on Sunday, amid disputes within the government’s ranks (Photo: Yemeni media)

Blow up position

While the objectives of this visit are still largely ambiguous, political sources told "south24" that this return is related to what is happening in the Marib Governorate, in North Yemen, where the Houthis are close to comprehensive control of the oil and gas-rich province.

The political sources said that the loss of Marib is likely to completely destroy the "legitimacy" of  President Hadi, and his weak forces in North, which are preparing to flee towards South.

"Saudi Arabia is facing great pressure as a result of the successive defeats of Hadi's forces on the fronts of Marib, which may push it to make concessions in the talks, that Saudi officials in the intelligence service are conducting with Iranian officials in Baghdad..," the political sources told "south24".

In order to prevent the fall of the Hadi's political legitimacy, which keeps the legitimacy of the Saudi intervention in Yemen in place, political sources said that Riyadh will resort to transforming Mukalla or Seiyun in Wadi-Hadramawt into an alternative stronghold for the defeated and fleeing northern forces, loyal to the Muslim Brotherhood.


These steps would also divide the new Yemeni government - which Riyadh sponsored - and lead to the explosive situation in South Yemen, according to sources who spoke to "south24".

One day before the arrival of the Yemeni prime minister to Mukalla, southern tweeters close to the STC launched a hashtag on the Twitter platform calling for the liberation of Wadi Hadramawt, coinciding with the fifth anniversary of the liberation of Mukalla from al-Qaeda militants (AQAP) in 2016, with UAE support.

International reports accuse Saudi Arabia, which led an Arab coalition in 2015 to support the Yemeni president, of seeking to establish its influence in the eastern regions of South Yemen, including the governorate of Mahra, which borders Oman.

Saudi Arabia has not denied the accusations, but insists that its interest is limited to restoring legitimacy under Hadi's leadership to Sanaa.

Subdivision of South

Another informed source said that these steps would enhance the efforts of some regional and international parties to separate the western and eastern regions in South Yemen.

Riyadh continues to provide support to the Muslim Brotherhood in Yemen, and the forces that control oil wells in the valley and desert of Hadramawt governorate. Meanwhile, thousands of fighters from the First Military Zone, run by Vice President Ali Mohsen al-Ahmar, are in these areas. These forces, whose soldiers are from North Yemen, did not participate in the fighting in Marib.

Many al-Qaeda militants are present in various areas in Wadi Hadramout, which are under the control of the Yemeni Vice President's forces. AQAP recently claimed attacks against southern and Emirati forces in the governorates of Abyan and Shabwa.

The Transitional Council has not officially commented on the Abd al-Malik's return to Mukalla, until this time. However, he faces severe criticism because of the deteriorating service conditions in Aden and its environs, as a result of the inability of the government, which Saudi Arabia said would support it to lift the situation there.

- South24 Center for News and Studie

Southern Transitional Council South Yemen Riyadh Agreement Saudia Arabia Houthis Hadramout Muslim Brotherhood