December 14, 2017
Yemen Frontlines: December 2017
Forces loyal to late Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh stopped supporting the al Houthi movement and joined an Emirati-led offensive, breaking a nearly yearlong stalemate in western Yemen and revitalizing the Saudi-led coalition’s plan to end the civil war militarily. Forces from Saleh’s Republican Guard, the Emirati military, and Yemen’s internationally-recognized Hadi government advanced farther north along Yemen’s western coast than at any other point in the conflict. This offensive aims to seize to isolate the al Houthi movement from Iranian support by sea and compel the al Houthis to surrender. Seizing al Hudaydah will not likely accomplish this aim, however, because Iran also provides support over land from eastern Yemen, which Saudi-backed forces are attempting to disrupt, and major northern Yemeni tribes still support the al Houthis. Popular opposition to the Saudi-led coalition, which has bombed northern Yemen since March 2015, may prevent the coalition from reaching or seizing al Hudaydah port. An assault on the port will significantly worsen Yemen’s humanitarian crisis. Coalition-backed Hadi government forces also advanced in Sa’ada governorate on December 7, but other fronts remain unchanged.