According to the spokesman for the Yemeni Armed Forces, Brigadier General Yahia Sarea, Yemeni army troops and fighters from the allied Popular Committees have managed to liberate 3,200 square kilometers of land and inflict heavy losses on Saudi-led militants during the latest advances in Yemen’s strategic provinces of Shabwah and Marib. He revealed the details of ‘Operation Rabi al-Nasr’ (Spring of Victory), and said the large-scale offensive successfully achieved its goals.
The Houthis, a Saudi-supported rebel group, have launched a massive attack since February of this year to take over Marib. According to the Armed Conflict Location & Event Data (ACLED) Project, a non-governmental organization that analyzes conflict and terrorism-related data, 44% of the 10,000 people who died in Yemen’s civil war in the first half of this year were killed in Marib.
Marib has Yemen’s biggest natural oil fields, while Shabwa has several oil fields and the country’s sole liquefied natural gas terminal. Marib and Shabwa are the economic lifeline of Yemen. Geographically, they are located strategically between the southern and northern powers. The International Crisis Group (ICG), an international conflict research institute, predicted in a report released on the 14th that the Houthi army’s occupation of Marib is imminent and, if successful, that “the Hadi government would suffer a fatal blow, and the UN’s mediation efforts would fall into great chaos.”
In this situation, the Southern Transitional Council (STC), a separatist political organization in Yemen, is emerging as another interested party. As it is known, the STC and the Hadi government have a multilayered relationship, both comrades and enemies on different issues. They are in the same boat in the ‘anti-Houthi front’, but in the southern civil war, they are in great political and military conflict.
The conflict between the two sides began in April 2017 when President Hadi fired Aidarus al-Zubaidi, the current head of the STC, then governor of the southern state of Aden. Now, the two groups have completely different political ideologies and goals.
However, the situation complicated as the war prolonged and neighboring countries intervened. The STC is not solely driven by the pure ideology of southern Yemen’s independence.
If the Houthi vs. anti-Houthi is the first front in Yemen’s war, the southern conflict of civil war between the STC and the Hadi government is the second front. However, recently, within the second front, a new third front is emerging. In Marib and Shabuwa, where the Houthi army and the Hadi government force face off, the conflict between the Islamist party Al-Isla (Yemen Reform Coalition), the main forces of the Hadi government, and the STC is escalating.
Al-Isla is an Islamist party known as the ‘Yemeni version’ of the Muslim Brotherhood, an Islamic fundamentalist organization based in Egypt.
The Houthis stepped up their offensive against Marib and Shabwa, under the pretext of eradicating Al-Qaeda soldiers stationed in the area. Earlier, there were reports that the remnants of Al-Qaeda’s Arabian Peninsula branch (AQAP) headquartered in Yemen, the Salafist (Islamic fundamentalist) tribal militias, and even the pro-government forces were all expelled.
Al-Isla, the leader of the anti-Houthi alliance in the provinces of Marib and Shabwa, now faces challenges not only from the Houthis but also from within the anti-Houthi alliance. While the anti-Houthi camp is being destroyed by sectarianism, the Houthis continue to advance without hesitation.
Now therefore, our God, hear the prayer of Your servant, and his supplications, and for the Lord’s sake cause Your face to shine on Your sanctuary, which is desolate. O my God, incline Your ear and hear; open Your eyes and see our desolations, and the city which is called by Your name; for we do not present our supplications before You because of our righteous deeds, but because of Your great mercies. O Lord, hear! O Lord, forgive! O Lord, listen and act! Do not delay for Your own sake, my God, for Your city and Your people are called by Your name.”
(Daniel 9:17-19, NKJV)
Lord God, desolate Yemen has been full of endless conflict between the south and the north, the power struggle between tribes, the conflict between Shia and Sunni Islam, and the increasing power of the Islamic fundamentalism.
Lord, we lift up the souls of this land who are suffering in darkness and in despair. Please have mercy on those who are trembling in fear, and cover them with the blood of the cross. May the political instability and conflicts be resolved under the cross. May war and terrorism be extinguished in this land.
Please destroy all lies, deception, and the powers of death that are torturing the Yemeni people, and eternally and shine the light of Your face upon this land!
May all reigning powers know that the true King who rules these people is Jesus Christ, and may all Yemenis confess that our Lord is God! May Yemen rise up as holy people who offer their lives for Jesus and the gospel according to the purpose of their creation! Amen!