A Survey of News on the Current Houthi Offensive in Marib – TTG

The Houthi militias, who control Yemen’s capital city, Sanaa, and much of the country, have renewed their military campaign to take over the city, located just 75 miles east of the capital. Resistance fighters are defending Marib with military support from Saudi Arabia, which has provided air strikes and now ground troops.  This is happening just as a change in the White House signals a renewed effort to end the Yemen war — diplomatically. On Tuesday, Secretary of State Antony Blinken revoked the Trump-era designation of Houthis, known widely as Ansarallah, as a foreign terrorist organization in recognition of the dire humanitarian situation in Yemen. The label would have hindered the delivery of aid to parts of Yemen under Houthi control.  “Marib is the last stronghold of the Yemeni government. It is also a city that hosts 3 million civilians, including almost a million IDPs who fled mainly from the north, from Houthi persecution, but also from the war in general. Marib also sits on much of Yemen oil and all Yemen gas,” Dawsari told The World. (PRI)

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Clashes between Yemeni government forces and Houthi rebels have intensified in the strategic province of Marib, with military sources saying a senior loyalist commander was among dozens of fighters killed. Earlier this month, the Iran-backed Houthis resumed a push to capture Marib city, which lies close to some of Yemen’s richest oil fields in the north of the country. Hundreds of fighters from both sides have been killed in fighting since Friday, according to government sources. The Houthis do not usually release casualty tolls. “Twenty-two members of the government forces and more than 28 rebels have died in the last 24 hours in the fighting,” including special forces commander in Marib, General Abdel Ghani Shaalan, a military source told AFP news agency. “Fighting continues unabated on all fronts in Marib province” – the government’s last bastion in the north of the country – the source said, adding that neither side had advanced on the ground.

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6 Responses to A Survey of News on the Current Houthi Offensive in Marib – TTG

  1. Avatar JohninMK says:

    What is the reaction in Saudi by the leadership there regarding their military performance in Yemen and the Houti’s ability to target their cities with ballistic and cruise missiles?

    • The Twisted Genius The Twisted Genius says:

      The Saudi royals have to keep their people content. They can afford to do that. Saudi losses in Yemen could be covered over. The missile and drone strikes are another matter. That will eat away at the contentment bought with royal wealth. Without that, the royals need to keep their people cowed. That’s a lot harder than just keeping them content.

  2. The Twisted Genius The Twisted Genius says:

    DOL is De Oppresso Liber, the motto of Special Forces. I always thought it best translated as the imperative “Liberate from Oppression” although I’ve usually seen it translated as “Free the Oppressed.” Neither is correct Latin. The phrase itself may not be correct Latin. Steven Willett could give us a proper readout on this.

    Those of us who worked with irregular forces often develop an affinity for those irregulars. I and several others were enthusiastic about the Libyan rebels overthrowing Qadaffi. I especially cheered for the Berber tribesmen of the Nafusa Mountains. We clearly underestimated the influence of the Islamic jihadis. I expected chaos, but not to the extent that occurred. I still think they’ll work it out. I’m also sure a lot of Libyans do think it was all worth it.

    To avoid something like that happening in Saudi Arabia, I don’t want the royal family to be overthrown. What would come after the royals is bound to be much worse. A full blown Islamic Caliphate with the wealth of Saudi Arabia would be a far greater danger to the entire region, including Yemen. To prevent that, I’d like to see the power of the royal family crippled, but not destroyed.

    Yemen is a humanitarian disaster. That disaster is a direct result of Saudi intervention. I don’t apologize for worrying about the Yemenis and wanting the Saudi intervention to end.

  3. Avatar Ishmael Zechariah says:

    TTG,
    We Turks have a long history with Yemen, from the 16th century on, with very limited success. Here is a reasonable summary:
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yemeni%E2%80%93Ottoman_conflicts
    There is an elegy commemorating our dead in the last campaign :
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yemen_T%C3%BCrk%C3%BCs%C3%BC
    The translation lacks the poignancy of the original, but conveys the general idea. It is still performed: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vLbGS09WN5Q&list=RDvLbGS09WN5Q&start_radio=1
    Others tried to take over Yemen; they did not fare much better in the long run:
    https://www.thefreelibrary.com/The+Egyptian-Yemen+War+%281962-67%29%3a+Egyptian+perspectives+on+Guerrilla…-a0116585276
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aden_Emergency
    The colonel and several others predicted here long ago that the Houthis would hand the KSA and its allies their collective posteriors. The place is similar to Afghanistan in many ways.
    Finally re: Yemen is a humanitarian disaster. That disaster is a direct result of Saudi intervention
    Quite a few would not consider the Yemen gambit just a KSA adventure. There are many irons in this fire-all of the usual suspects are complicit- and the stakes are reasonably high. I am sure you know all about them. A few links for those who might not:
    https://www.cato.org/commentary/joe-bidens-foreign-policy-dream-team-disappointing
    https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/sep/06/britain-slaughter-yemen-planes-bombs-politicians-media
    https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-6843469/Five-British-Special-Forces-troops-wounded-Yemen-advising-Saudi-Arabia-campaign.html
    https://www.reuters.com/article/us-yemen-security-france-arms-idUSKCN1RR1D3
    Things are heating up in MENA. Interesting times await. Mayhap some will get a better hand next deal.

    Ishmael Zechariah

  4. Avatar Leith says:

    Although Blinken took the Houthis off the terror list, yesterday he called on them to halt the advance on Marib. He also said they should cease their drone and missile attacks against KSA.

    https://thearabweekly.com/blinken-calls-yemens-houthis-halt-offensive-marib

  5. Avatar Polish Janitor says:

    Great commentary and analysis as usual dear TTG.

    I would like to raise a few points with regards to the situation in Yemen:

    *The recent U.S. de-listing of Ansarallah as a terror organization does not apply to the leadership, i.e. the top brass. I cannot find the piece in which this situation was explained, but I am pretty sure the Houthi’s are technically still designated as “terror organization” under the U.S. law. This is most likely to ensure that the much-needed UN aid will be reached the devastated Yemeni population via the Houth-controlled Al Hudaydah port in the south.

    *The Biden admin so far, despite Joe’s pledge to hold MbS accountable for Khashoggi slaughter who btw was a well-connected Muslim Brotherhood part-time spy/journalist, and the humanitarian disaster in Yemen has been more or less continuing the Trump admin policies vis-a-vis Yemen. However, one very important development in the past few days has been the recent de-classification of the Khashoggi files that ‘enabled’ the U.S. to sanction 76 individuals who were part of the murder plot and comprise what is known as the “Rapid Intervention Force”, an extraterritorial special forces controlled solely by MbS to target/silence foreign opposition forces. Note the section in the New York Times article below that explains this (1):

    In an effort to signal wider action against countries and officials who reach beyond their borders to repress dissent, Mr. Blinken is also adding a category of sanctions, a newly named “Khashoggi ban,” to restrict visas to anyone determined to be participating in state-sponsored efforts to harass, detain or harm dissidents and journalists around the world. In a statement, Mr. Blinken said 76 Saudis would be designated in the first tranche.

    That review, officials said, would be part of the annual State Department human rights report. It is part of an effort, officials said, to create a new category of human rights abuses — one called “extraterritorial repression,” a growing issue as Russia, China and even allies like Turkey try to silence critics who are living in Europe, the United States or other free societies.

    While the initial bans will apply to Saudis, officials said they would quickly be used around the world.

    A few hours after the release of the report and the new sanctions, the Saudi government issued a blistering response. “The kingdom of Saudi Arabia completely rejects the negative, false and unacceptable assessment in the report pertaining to the kingdom’s leadership, and notes that the report contained inaccurate information and conclusions,” it wrote.

    ****
    This is very significant in the sense that, a) it would provide some type of cover/safety to the newly-formed political opposition forces to the KSA in London and Paris to launch their activism in case their services are needed, and b) it could be used to pressure the Saudis to officially join the Abrahamic accord and recognize Israel and formalize relations with it.

    *The Houthi fighters not only managed to resist the Saudi-led coalition, drive them out and capture territories (in some cases from the Saudis too), but also bleed the Saudi economy heavily ,especially during the time of low oil demand and rising budget deficits.

    Nevertheless, the skeptic in me tells me that the current leadership in Saudi Arabia in fact does not at all mind to ‘divert’ resources in its southern border, buy billions worth of military equipment from the West and hire mercenaries and create some sort of the ongoing security problem in Yemen, in order to resist internal and external pressure to transition to a more humane and post-medieval society and allocate those natural riches for the betterment of the Saudi citizens.

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