The evening of the 3rd of December and into the morning of the 4th, saw heavy Saudi bombing of the Yemeni capital of Sana’a. After publicly seeking an alliance with Saudi Arabia, former Houthi ally, former President Ali Abdullah Saleh, ordered his troops to engage Houthi fighters.
After intense battles backed by Saudi air-raids, Houthi fighters managed to secure a success against remaining Saleh loyalists. After being betrayed by their long-time comrade, Saleh, Houthi fighters have seized most of the Saleh family’s physical assets in Sana’a, including the Yemen Today TV studios, Saleh’s house and compound and those of Saleh’s immediate family.
A video released yesterday, reportedly shows Houthi rebels blowing up the house of a prominent sheikh who attempted to convince his followers to side with Saleh in his newly inaugurated war against the Houthis.
— Ammar Aulaqi (@ammar82) December 3, 2017
After an intense night of fighting where the UN evacuated their compound, the Houthis officially declared victory in Sana’a.
— Brasco_Aad (@Brasco_Aad) December 4, 2017
Shortly thereafter, Haidar Akarar, jounalist from the Tasmin News Agency, confirmed that Saleh has officially severed all ties with the Houhtis, formally known as the Ansar Allah goup.
#YEMEN: Ali Abdallah Saleh releases statement, officially announcing dissolution of partnership with Ansarullah (Houthis)
— Haidar Akarar ⭕ (@HaiderMoqawama) December 4, 2017
أصدر الرئيس المخلوع علي عبد الله صالح بياناً أعلن فيه بشكل رسمي، فض الشراكة مع أنصار الله (الحوثيين) pic.twitter.com/aZOiGg4Sfo
— Hassan Ridha (@sayed_ridha) December 4, 2017
Saleh’s statement comes as no surprise as for days, troops loyal to him have been fighting those loyal to Abdul-Malik Badreddin al-Houthi. During the fighting, pro-Saleh fighters launched rocket attacks on the Iranian Embassy, causing a fire.
Unconfirmed reports are circulating that Saleh has already endorsed a pact with Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi, Yemen’s President who was ousted by the Houthis in 2015, before fleeing to Aden and setting up his pro-Saudi government in the former capital of South Yemen. Later, the Prime Minsiter of the Hadi government, which claims legitimacy over the entire country, said that the Aden government is willing to offer a general amnesty to former Houthi allies. This all but confirms the alliance between Aden and by extrapolation, Riyadh and Saleh loyalists who have turned on the Houthis.
With all of the major players in the conflict now openly fighting the Houthis, it would appear that Houthi fighters continue to secure their gains, in spite of tremendous odds.
Qatar’s state-owned broadcaster Al-Jazeera has stated that Saleh’s betrayal was orchestrated in conjunction with Saudi Arabia’s close ally, the UAE. Qatar has become critical of the Saudi-UAE war on Yemen, ever since Saudi Arabia effectively kicked Qatar out of the invading coalition earlier this year when Riyadh inaugurated its economic and diplomatic boycott of Qatar.
Al-Jazeera has further claimed that Hadi has fallen out of favour with the UAE and instead, Abu Dhabi looks to align itself with Aydarous al-Zubaidi of the Southern Movement.
While all of this information is difficult to officially confirm due to the lack of neutral journalists on the ground in Yemen, what is clear is that Saudi Arabia’s large scale attack on Sana’a has failed in its objective to dislodge the Houthis. The Houthis appear if anything, to have consolidated their positions since losing Saleh as an ally.