Publication: Terrorism Monitor Volume: 13 Issue: 20
October 2, 2015
Saudi Arabia’s ongoing armed intervention in Yemen, which began overtly in March with airstrikes in support of Yemen’s internationally-recognized president Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi, has since become a coalition effort, although the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has emerged as Saudi Arabia’s major military partner in the intervention. On balance, the coalition campaign to oust the predominately Zaydi Shi’a Ansar Allah (Partisans of God—a.k.a. the Houthis) movement and their allies, which include forces loyal to Yemen’s former president Ali Abdullah Saleh, has made strong progress. Saudi Arabia’s daily air strikes on the Houthis and their allies in the country’s capital of Sana’a and in other Houthi-dominated areas in Yemen’s western highland region are degrading the Houthi alliance’s conventional military forces (al-Arabiya, September 28; al-Arabiya, September 5).
Concurrently, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Qatar and Kuwait have landed troops in the southern city of Aden, the former capital of South Yemen, and are using the city to assist local, southern tribal militias organized under the broad network of al-Muqawama al-Sha’biya (Popular Resistance Committees). This has succeeded first in pushing the Houthis and their allies back from the city and pressuring Houthi-held areas around the city of Taiz in the country’s southwest and in the mainly desert region of Mareb, to the west of Sana’a (The National, September 7; YouTube, July 3; YouTube, June 17; YouTube, June 8;YouTube, June 5; YouTube, May 31; Khabar News Agency [Taiz], April 21; YouTube, April 21; al-Arabiya, March 26).
In spite of these successes, Houthi and allied forces continue to maintain strong control over northern Yemen, including Sana’a, and Houthi forces have launched consistent attacks on several areas of southwestern Saudi Arabia that border Yemen, particularly in Najran and Jizan Provinces (YouTube, June 9; YouTube, May 29; YouTube, May 5). For instance, on September 18, two Bangladeshis were killed when mortars fired from Yemen struck a hospital in Samtah, a town in the Saudi Red Sea coastal province of Jizan that is only a few miles from the Yemen border (Daily Star [Dhaka], September 19). Earlier, on September 14, Saudi Arabia announced that one soldier had been killed in an attack on a border post in Jizan, (SPA, September 14). A day earlier, four soldiers had been killed in another cross-border attack in Najran (SPA, September 13). This stream of attacks, while not seriously jeopardizing Saudi control of the area, is nonetheless almost constant, placing considerable pressure on civilian populations in the region, particularly through the Houthis’ use of indiscriminate rocket attacks.