Tareq Saleh’s Controversial Visit To Taizz; Prelude To Operations Against Ansar Allah And Islah Party?
After 11 years of the onset of revolution in Yemen and the withdrawal of Taizz city from the control of late president Ali Abdullah Saleh, a controversial trip by Vice President of Yemen Tareq Saleh to the southwestern city would lead to a shift of political and military arrangement as well as turbulent days.
Taizz city was one of the main strongholds of opponents of Ali Abdullah Saleh especially the Islah Party in the onset of revolution in Yemen and even before the turning point. Following the aggression by the Saudi-led coalition, the Islah Party could mobilize its militants to control parts of the city and it kicked off confrontations with followers of Ansar Allah movement and Ali Abdullah Saleh. The climax of the conflicts occurred when the late president betrayed Ansar Allah and the movement’s fighters retreated from urban areas and took a position in northern areas of the city.
After over a decade of war in Yemen, several transformations and clashes happened in the country, but Taizz witnessed fewer changes due to its geographical situation, density of population and the spread of conflicts in other fronts.
At present, Ansar Allah controls strategic points in northern, eastern and western areas of the city. The strategic areas encompass the International Airport, major roads, including Taizz-Aden, Taizz-Sanaa and Taizz- Al-Hudaydah, as well as the heights overlooking the city.
The urban areas, military bases and administrative offices are under the control of the Islah Party and in some point under the supervision of the resigned government of Yemen. Moreover, there is side road in the southern Taizz, which connects the western entrance of the city to Al-Tarba town and Yemen’s southern cities. The side road is controlled by the militants of the Islah Party, which is utilized by the Saudi-led coalition to enter the battle grounds in Taizz.
Tareq Saleh is nephew of the late president of Yemen, who is commander of the Popular Resistance Committees, which is under supervision of the Saudi-led coalition. Tareq Saleh became a member of the presidential council of the resigned government of Yemen following the resignation of former President of Yemen Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi. Tareq Saleh has a close relationship with the United Arab Emirates (UAE), and he contributes to certain programs of Saudi Arabia, including their confrontation against the Southern Transitional Council (STC). Some of his covert efforts and supports in forming the Popular Resistance Committees, handing over the control of the southern front of Al-Hudaydah and western parts of Taizz to al- Mocha Port, as well as his cooperation in the formation of Al-Dara’ Al-Watan militants paved the way for enhancing his power and influence in the developments of the occupied territories of Yemen.
As part of his latest attempts, Tareq Saleh met with a military delegation from Saudi Arabia and he visited the headquarters of the Popular Resistance Committees in Taizz, which are of great importance. According to local sources, he plans to implement a military operation in Taizz Governorate to take control of the region. The initiation of the operation can start along with Taizz- Al-Hudaydah and Taizz-Aden roads. Among the axes of confrontations, his militants’ attack on Ansar Allah’s strongholds in Taizz Governorate seems to be more probable than their strike on the Islah Party’s positions. The attack can happen along Albarh-Kamb-Hajda-Taizz fronts, because the Karsh front is controlled by the militants of the Southern Transitional Council. Furthermore, the Tareq forces require abundant equipment and militants to start operation in urban areas, but he cannot afford such an operation given the current circumstances in Taizz. In addition, he has started reaching consensus with certain commanders of the Islah Party.
Therefore, provided that the Yemen peace negotiations by the mediation of Omen and the United Nations fails to reach a conclusion or stops, one of the areas, which may experience conflicts, would be Taizz front. Of course, victory in this front would not be an easy job for any party, but the incursion into the axis can create new headaches for the Asar Allah movement.