Iran-backed Houthis have launched attacks in Marib province since early February as the last stronghold of the Yemeni pro-government forces. These attacks are very violent, and it is possible that the Houthis will take control of this oil-rich province and drive the forces of Mansour Hadi’s government out of this province. The province is traditionally home to the activities of the Yemeni Muslim Brotherhood and the Al-Islah Party.
The Houthis took control of Sanaa, the capital of Yemen In January 2015, and Mansour Hadi was forced to move to southern Yemen, retaining only Marib in northern Yemen as his base of control for the Houthis. Marib is important for Mansour Hadi’s government in three ways. First, Marib is the last stronghold of the government in northern Yemen, and if it falls into the hands of the Houthis, it will deal a heavy blow to the Hadi government, because the Houthis will be able to increasingly establish themselves as the de facto rulers of the north. This is not only a territorial loss for the Hadi government, but also weakens its position politically. Second, Marib has abundant oil resources, and whoever acquires this land is economically strengthened. Third, Houthi control of Marib meant the collapse of a stronghold that prevented Houthis from advancing into the oil-rich areas of Hadhramaut and Shabwa. It is possible that the Houthis will move to Shabwa in the second step.
If the Houthis are able to take full control of Marib, the rivalry in southern Yemen between Saudi Arabia and the UAE, which supports the government of Mansour Hadi and the Southern Transitional Council (STC), respectively, will increase. The government of Mansour Hadi and the STC are the two main rivals in southern Yemen that are competing with each other. Although Riyadh and Abu Dhabi attacked Yemen with the common goal of defeating the Houthis, each country pursues its own tactics in Yemen, and this strategy has led to a conflict of interests between the two countries…
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