Bab Al-Mandab Turns Into Main Front Of Maritime Clashes Between Ansar Allah Movement, Saudi-Led Coalition

Author: ISWNews
Saturday 5 August 2023 - 12:58

The enhancement of the positions of the Ansar Allah movement’s opponents on the southwestern coast of Yemen indicates the US-led coalition’s planning for a naval war in the future. This plan is being implemented with the attempts made by the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in the southwestern region of the war-stricken country.

According to the plan, militant forces affiliated to Tareq Saleh, a Yemeni military commander and the nephew of the late President Ali Abdullah Saleh, will control the coastal areas from Hays city to Bab al-Mandab Strait, as well as the Southern Transitional Council (STC) forces will control the coastal regions from Ras al-Ara area to Aden governorate. The implementation of this plan faces problems, because tribes such as al-Sabiha tribes in Lahij Governorate, southern Yemen, want their share and try to control this region.

The seventh brigade of Amaliqa forces as well as groups of Al-Sabihah tribal militants prevented Tareq Saleh’s forces from constructing a base and settling in the Bab al-Mandab coastal strip, located in southwestern Taizs Governorate, on July 28.

The tension was accompanied by a halt in the movement of Tariq Saleh’s forces near Dhubab town, and al-Sabiha tribes warned Tareq’s forces against any military movement towards Bab al-Mandab. After this event, Tareq Saleh ordered more forces to be sent to Dhubab town, but eventually, due to resistance from al-Sabihah tribes, he was forced to retreat from Dhubab towards Mocha.  

Al-Sabiha tribes claim that the southwestern lands of Taizz Governorate belong to these tribes and Tareq Saleh’s forces must also retreat from their other positions. They did not stop at this condition and demanded that their militants be officially recognized within the framework of the Saudi-led coalition forces and also Abu Dhiyab al-Alkami return to his position in command of support for national resistance forces (under Tareq Saleh’s command) and also hand over the killers of a soldier named Saadan Ali Saeed.

Tariq Saleh, on July 30, in his first reaction to the clash with al-Sabiha tribes in Bab al-Mandab, published a statement entitled leadership statement of national resistance forces. Saleh considered Bab al-Mandab within his operational space in this statement and referred to a plan that has been approved in joint operations with the participation of Abdul Rahman Abu Zaraa Al Muharrami, commander of Amaliqah forces. He also considered establishing himself in all areas of Taizz Governorate and securing international navigation routes as part of his duties.

Following this escalation, Tareq Saleh’s adviser Nabil Al-Sufi announced in a tweet that the plan to establish joint forces (under Tareq Saleh’s command) was designed by the United Arab Emirates and includes the area from Hays in the south of Al-Hudaydah Governorate to Bab al-Mandab. Also, the Southern Transitional Council forces will protect the coastal areas from Ras al-Ara region to Aden to ensure the security of Bab al-Mandab Strait. In addition, Djibouti’s armed forces will be stationed on the other side of the strait.

In this regard, some local sources reported that the Southern Transitional Council forces transferred control of al-Ardhi region in Bab al-Mandab to Tareq Saleh’s forces on July 31.

Based on the circumstances on the ground, this plan can be considered as part of the US-led coalition’s deployment to support a future naval war with the Ansar Allah movement. In recent months, the Ansar Allah movement has strengthened its naval force with the support of Iran and other resistance groups and has armed its forces with various missiles and speed boats.

The tension between al-Sabiha tribes and Tareq Saleh’s forces can also be considered as a sabotage by some Saudi officials to disrupt the United Arab Emirates’ plan, as they are not interested in resuming hostilities with the Ansar Allah movement and are not willing to completely surrender southwestern Yemeni coasts to the United Arab Emirate. Therefore, they play a role with the card of al-Sabiha tribes in this axis.

Altogether, the conflicts in the Red Sea and the vital Bab al-Mandab Strait seem to be important issues, which have been raised since the early years of the Yemen war and they have turned into more serious topics with the permanent deployment of the United States’ naval coalition or Combined Task Force 153 to the waters of the region.

The US and Israel resort to sabotaging the Yemen peace process and destroying relations between Iran and Saudi Arabia in order to send Saudi Arabia back to war with the Ansar Allah movement. Despite avoiding re-engagement in Yemen, the Saudi authorities continue to show inflexible reactions in negotiations as well as military deployment in a bid to maintain their positions! However, such an attitude is expected to weaken the efforts to find a political solution in line with achieving peace in Yemen.

Military situation in southern Yemen – click to view full size
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