Yemen: government forces win another important victory

Suddenly things are going pretty well for Yemeni forces loyal to President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi. They’re claiming to have gained control of Yemen’s largest air base, Al-Anad field north of Aden, which they retook a couple of weeks ago. Anad was lost to the Houthis and their allies in March. Saudi air power and Emirati ground forces (including heavy armor) may be responsible for the Hadi side’s recent change in fortune, though there are conflicting reports about just how involved the Emirati troops have been in the fighting (Hadi’s people, of course, insist that they’re doing this all on their own).

What does this mean for the war? Well, taking Anad puts Hadi’s forces in position for an offensive on Taiz, Yemen’s third-largest city and the scene of another major Houthi victory back in March. This resurgence could encourage the Houthi/Saleh alliance to approach a new round of peace talks somewhat differently than they approached the last round, in June, when their representatives reportedly wouldn’t even meet with Hadi’s negotiators. So maybe it will bring Yemen closer to a peace deal. On the other hand, this Hadi/coalition success may give them funny ideas about pushing on until the Houthis are completely defeated, which might have the effect of actually prolonging the violence.

Hadi might want to think hard about pursuing total victory, though; if Emirati armor is backing his recent successes, then he may find the going much harder as his offensive moves north (toward the Houthis’ homeland), where the highland territory may make it harder to maneuver. He’s also likely to lose part of his Yemeni force, the so-called “Southern Resistance,” who are after an independent South Yemen and are unlikely to be willing to keep pushing north toward Sanaa.

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