After so much speculation around the time when the war in Yemen could come to an end, it seems that for the time being everything is going to stay as it is now. Attacks have once again intensified and apparently neither is willing to stand down.
Yesterday, Yemen Houthi movement released video footage on its television network, Al Masirah, claiming that during an operation near al Khoubah, southern Saudi Arabia near Yemen’s border, more than 80 soldiers working for the Saudi Arabia were either killed or injured. Al Masirah claimed that 10 fighters were also captured, some mercenaries recruited from Sudan to work for the Saudi government. No further information was given as to time and the manner in which the attacks were carried out. Still, the video footage clearly shows fighting near the rocks that closely resembles the aforementioned area.
Not long after the video footage was released, Saudi state television along with the head of the Saudi-led coalition responded to the video, claiming that it was a “total fabrication” without any merit to it. Saudi-led coalition spokesman brigadier general Turki al-Maliki has said that “claims by the Houthi militia about executing an operation on the Jazan borders are total media fabrications”. Maliki furthermore argued that these recent attempts by the Houthi media is aimed at covering up the group’s territorial losses though so far there haven’t been any evidence to back his claims. Additionally, since Saudi Arabia has been the one desperately trying to make peace, Maliki might be bluffing to alleviate the pressure after the attack.
Despite denying the attack near al-Khoubah, Saudis made no effort to hide Houthis drone attack against the country. According to Saudi state television al-Ekhbariya, Houthis just launched a drone toward the city Khamis Mushait which in turn was destroyed by the Saudis mid-air. According to the Houthi military spokesman Yahya Saree however, the operation was indeed successful, effectively destroying numerous assets located in King Khalid Airbase in Khamit. Saree himself noted that “This comes in response to the continued attacks and aggression against our country”. In addition to their attacks on Saudi Arabia, the Houthi movement has also been busy preparing a full offensive against the city of Marib, one of the most strategic locations yet to be conquered by Houthis. Considering the fact that Saudi Arabia carried out several attacks against the Houthis near Marib on Friday, it is likely that this recent escalation could be a direct response to that.
This march, the war in Yemen entered its seven year. For so long, Yemen Houthi movement and Saudi-led coalition have been locked in a deadly and devastating struggle against each other until a few months ago the war effort slowly changed in the favour of Houthis. With the continuation of such a needless war, the international support for the Saudi-led incursion was diminished and the conflict of interests between Saudi Arabia and UAE further divided the coalition itself. In addition to that, Joe Biden’s election and his decision to end the US support for Saudis further enervated the will to fight. On the other hand, Houthis were growing more emboldened thanks to this changing circumstances. Sensing this new equation, Saudi Arabia started adjusting its policies, especially with regards to the Islamic Republic of Iran, longtime supporter of the Houthi movement in Yemen.
To everyone’s dismay however, it seems for the time being Saudi Arabia has decided to prolong the conflict once again. Instead of letting go of Yemen, Saudis do once again think winning the country could be the only remedy capable of alleviating all that pressure on them. Given what we have seen of the Houthis these past couple of months, it is also unlikely of them to trade victory for defeat. With the current course both sides have taken, one can only hope that this war wouldn’t do greater damage than it already did to the lives of millions of civilians now living in deplorable conditions.