Latest Developments On Yemeni Fronts; What Is Happening In Occupied Areas? (Map)
Given the fact that an unwritten ceasefire between the Ansar Allah movement and the Saudi coalition is in place, the conflict in Yemen shifted to occupied areas, and the Saudi-led factions are trying to gain more power and influence in the war-torn country.
The situation led to weakening of the resigned Yemeni government, and members of its presidential council are hopeless for success against Ansar Allah movement; so, they pursue implementing their ideal plans, including the partition of southern Yemen.
Moreover, the Takfiri terrorist group Al-Qaeda, which has a significant number of supporters in central and eastern Yemen, expanded its activities and returned to the Yemeni war.
Aden, Lahij and Taiz fronts:
On January 14, 2023, forces of Yemeni military commander and the nephew of the late President Ali Abdullah Saleh, Tareq Mohammed Abdullah Saleh, took control of the Ras al-Ara area on the coast of Lahij province. However, this advance was hampered by tribes, and Rashad Al-Alimi, head of the Presidential Council of the resigned Yemeni government, approved a plan to form a new brigade of Al-Daraa Al-Watan forces in the area under the leadership of Bashir Saif Al-Mazrabi Al-Sabih on February 1, 2023.
The city of Taiz is currently under the control of forces of the al-Islah Party, the resigned government and some independent militants. Tareq Saleh has also returned to the city despite opposition from al-Islah Party. One of the major tensions that occurred after Tareq’s entry into Taiz was the failed assassination attempt on Minister of Defense of the resigned government Mohsen Al-Daeri. These tensions question the resigned government’s claim that Taiz has been besieged by Ansar Allah movement for past eight years. Since the western road and southern areas of Taiz Governorate are under control of al-Islah Party and Tareq Saleh, tensions between these groups limited access to Taiz and prevented delivery of humanitarian aid. The Ansar Allah movement has repeatedly reopened Sana’a-Taiz road voluntarily, but al-Islah Party prevented non-military vehicles from entering Taiz.
On January 25, 2022, the forces of Al-Dara’ Al-Watan (backed by Saudi Arabia) took control of the important Al-Anad base in Lahij Governorate by expelling the militants of the Southern Transitional Council (STC) and evacuating Sudanese mercenaries. This action by Al-Daraa Al-Watan can be considered as Saudi Arabia’s first move to limit the STC.
Saudi media outlets announced that Riyadh intends to remove the STC from the political scene in southern and eastern Yemeni governorates, but this claim has not been seriously implemented so far, and in fact, Saudi Arabia intends to confront with Al-Daraa Al-Watan forces and create a national council for Hadramout Governorate to confront the STC and partition southern Yemen. The control of the resigned government and Saudi Arabian bases in Aden has also been transferred to Al-Daraa Al-Watan, and Saudi advisers are managing Aden’s security issues alongside them.
The terrorist group Al-Qaeda recruited hundreds of militants from some tribes in Shabwa and Abyan governorates, and Al-Qaeda has again transferred its activities to the north of Abyan Governorate and parts of Shabwa Governorate. Their attacks, which are mostly limited to roadside bombings and guerrilla attacks, have led to the withdrawal of STC forces from most areas of Al-Mahfad and Modiyah districts. Central areas of these areas are under the control of STC militants, but most mountainous areas are under Al-Qaeda control, and clashes between the two sides are ongoing in Wadi Omran.
The increase in Al-Qaeda’s movements on this axis may not be supported by Saudi Arabia, but since it weakens the positions of the Southern Transitional Council in Abyan province, it has not been opposed by Saudi Arabia either, and there is a possibility of covert support from Saudis for Al-Qaeda. Because Al-Qaeda has started using scarce weapons such as quadcopters, etc., which is not possible without external support.
The Southern Giants Brigades known as Al Amaliqah forces, drove out the Shabwa Defense forces on April 8, 2023 to control Bayhan district. The surroundings of the district are also under the control of Shabwa Defense forces; so, Al-Qaeda attacks mostly these forces.
Al-Qaeda terrorists attacked the town of Al-Masiniyah in Al-Saeed district on June 11, 2023 under the pretext of killing commander of al-Islah Party in Bayhan Abdullah Al-Bani. Al-Qaeda used quadcopters and also the US conducted drone attacks on al-Islah Party’s positions in support of the STC.
The US’s support for the STC strengthened their position and governor of Shabwa Awadh bin Al-Wazir Al-Awlaki, and it also reduced the likelihood of operations by Al-Daraa Al-Watan and al-Islah Party forces with Saudis’ support in Ataq city. Saudi Arabia stationed its forces on the northern axis of Ataq to Jardan district and it intends to expel the STC from Ataq city and Shabwa Governorate’s oil-rich areas.
Therefore, competition between Saudi Arabia and the UAE in Shabwa Governorate has been stopped following US intervention, and meetings between US Ambassador to Yemen Steven Fagin and Awadh Al-Awlaki, indicating the US plans to use Shabwa’s oil resources.
After mounting differences between al-Islah Party and the resigned government in late December 2022, Marib Governorate became the scene of tension between the forces of commander-in-chief of the Yemeni resigned government’s armed forces Major General Saghir bin Aziz and al-Islah Party militants. The clash led to the expression of dissatisfaction by tribes in eastern Marib. The root cause of the clashes is a dispute over the division of oil field revenues, and tribes claim parts of oil revenues.
The difference between Saghir bin Aziz and al-Islah Party in Marib continues, but Saudi Arabia temporarily stopped it and is concentrating on merging al-Islah Party militants into Al-Daraa Al-Watan forces; therefore, it appointed al-Islah Party’s field commander in Shabwa Governorate Brigadier General Abd Rabbo Laakb as commander of one of Al-Daraa Al-Watan brigades.
Yemen is currently facing several serious challenges such as plots for partitioning southern regions by the STC, exploiting oil and gas resources by the US, Europe and Arab states, stationing terrorist groups in central regions, and being occupied by Saudi Arabia and the UAE.
The Ansar Allah movement and the resigned government of Yemen are opposed to partitioning southern Yemen; so, they will not support the STC, which seeks to revive southern Yemen and the group will not succeed in implementing partition plan. But the issue of exploitation of oil and gas resources and handing over of islands to foreigners are challenges, which are being opposed only by the Ansar Allah movement.
The opposition to the issue prevented oil and gas exports, but did not create any danger for companies and military personnel from the US, Europe and other foreigners in Yemen. In fact, Western political pressures become a leverage so that Ansar Allah movement cannot hinder threats by foreigners.
The occupation by Arab states and presence of terrorist groups in Yemen will only be eliminated through serious confrontation by Yemeni army and Ansar Allah. The Ansar Allah movement must prepare itself for this scenario with support from Iran and resistance groups. Political negotiations at this stage are not very effective; so, peace negotiation is a claim to provide enemies with opportunity to renew strength.