The Arab coalition has recently heightened the intensity of its operations in Yemen and this signifies that the war there has greatly shifted in their favor.
Coordination between the coalition forces, led by Saudi Arabia, and the US has been restored, after it was halted during the last year of Barack Obama’s presidential term. Several raids have targeted camps training Houthi militias in Saada. Houthi posts in the Nahm front, east of Sanaa, were also targeted and the Houthis were thus defeated in that rugged directorate as the national army seized control.
According to statements recently issued by the army, the latter’s forces aided by the coalition air force moved on to Arhab, which is close to the capital Sanaa. Naval cooperation also thwarted three Houthi naval attacks in front of the Midi port. The next attack will be decisive in this war as there are reports that this attack will target the strategic Hodeida port, which Iranian ships use to smuggle arms to rebels.
New gains, following Saudi Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s visit to Washington, have enhanced the position of the coalition. Following agreements with the US, supplies of ammunition and exchange of military intelligence information on enemy’s posts and activities on the ground has resumed.
Successful military operations, which have put pressure on the Houthi militias affiliated with Iran, and the march against forces loyal to Ali Abdullah Saleh, will help the international envoy execute his planAbdulrahman al-Rashed
The political message
This has yielded military results and sends an equally important political message which stipulates that when it comes to Yemen – unlike Syria – there is an international agreement to eliminate rebels and isolate their Iranian ally which is present in Yemen through its militias fighting alongside the Houthis.
Following these new military shifts, the international envoy is back in the picture in an attempt to market the peace initiative, which is still valid as he’s recently amended it in hopes of narrowing the distance between the different parties. He amended the initiative based on three references: UN Security Council Resolution 2216, the Gulf initiative and the national dialogue decisions.
Successful military operations, which have pressured the Houthi militias affiliated with Iran and the national army’s march against the forces loyal to ousted president Ali Abdullah Saleh by moving into Arhab on the way to Sanaa, will help the international envoy execute his plan.
This does not undermine the conflict in Yemen where legitimate President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi is being accused of obstructing efforts toward a political solution and of preferring for the conflict to continue, since he is an interim leader, and will lose his post as president if the war ends. It is certain that military developments will contribute to a better understanding on how Yemen will be governed.
This article was first published in Asharq Al-Awsat on March 21, 2017.
Abdulrahman al-Rashed is the former General Manager of Al Arabiya News Channel. A veteran and internationally acclaimed journalist, he is a former editor-in-chief of the London-based leading Arab daily Asharq al-Awsat, where he still regularly writes a political column. He has also served as the editor of Asharq al-Awsat’s sister publication, al-Majalla. Throughout his career, Rashed has interviewed several world leaders, with his articles garnering worldwide recognition, and he has successfully led Al Arabiya to the highly regarded, thriving and influential position it is in today. He tweets @aalrashed.