Marib, in the north of the country, is the only large city under government control supported by Saudi Arabia’s neighbors. If he falls into the hands of the rebels, Riad will suffer a heavy defeat against Iran.
On the front lines west of Marib, the last major city under total government control in northern Yemen, the Houthi rebels, despite six years of military intervention led by Saudi Arabia, are on the offensive, news agencies report.
If Marib falls into the hands of the insurgents, the defeat would further accentuate what analysts have been predicting for some time: the defeat of Saudi Arabia, which for six years has been fighting alongside the government against pro-Shia armed groups, supported by Iran. Mohammad bin Salman Al Saud, the crown prince of Saudi Arabia, was one of the country’s politicians who was most committed to involvement in the Yemen war.
The situation is worrying, particularly for the international community, as around two million people have fled to the city while a civil war was raging across the country. A humanitarian catastrophe, plus one, can happen at any time.
The Houthis started approaching the city in early February – but in the meantime, they have made little progress, as the government’s defenses have managed to hold their positions steady.
Saudi Arabia unilaterally announced a new ceasefire proposal on March 22, which provides for UN-led political negotiations between the Yemeni government and the Houthis, the first since the end of 2018. But insurgents rejected the proposal by rating it as not very serious – remembering that Iran also has a peace proposal that the other side did not want to accept.
“Saudi Arabia must declare an end to the aggression and lift the blockade completely, but presenting ideas that have been discussed for more than a year is nothing new,” said Houthi spokesman Mohammed Abdulsalam, quoted by the newspaper Al Jazeera. “The countries of aggression must stop all military operations against Yemen, remove their forces and end the siege unconditionally,” in exchange for an end to the Houthi attacks, he said.
It will be recalled that the US government of Joe Biden removed the Houthis from their blacklist of organizations considered to be terrorists – in a decision that was considered an attempt to approach Iran with a view to returning to the negotiations on the 2015 nuclear agreement – and stated who is not willing to support Saudi Arabia in its adventure in the south of the peninsula. Biden even went so far as to say that he would end the supply of military attack material and was available to sell only defensive weaponry to the Saudi monarchy.
The UN believes it estimates that the war has already caused 233,000 deaths, including 131,000 indirect causes such as the lack of food, health services, and basic infrastructure. The war also devastated the Yemeni economy.
Source: Jornal Economico / António Freitas de Sousa