The al Houthis remain in control of the capital Sana’a as anti-Houthi sentiments throughout the country grow. Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula continues its attacks on al Houthi and military targets.
Efforts to reach a political solution to fill Yemen’s premiership and presidency are ongoing. Saudi Arabia reportedly began talks with al Houthis under Omani mediation. The UN Special Envoy to Yemen Jamal Benomar is involved in ongoing negotiations with al Houthis and various political actors in the capital Sana’a. No political agreement to fill the presidency or premiership has yet been reached.
Al Houthi militias are trying to retain control of the capital in the wake of growing anti-Houthi protests. Al Houthi militias, also known as popular committees, seized the Ministry of Electricity in Sana’a on January 25 and besieged the home of Yemen’s Defense Minister Maj. Gen. Mahmoud al Subaihi. There are also reports that armed men attacked and detained anti-al Houthi student protesters in the 2011 protest sites such as Change Square and Sana’a University. In al Bayda, south of Sana’a, al Houthis continue to battle al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) and affiliated tribes. Al Houthi militants blew up the house of a local tribal leader in Qayfa, al Bayda on January 26 in response to recent attacks on al Houthis in the area.
Yemen’s security situation in and outside the capital continues to deteriorate. AQAP’s insurgent force Ansar al Sharia attacked a military checkpoint in Mahfad, Abyan, killing one soldier on January 26. Suspected Ansar al Sharia militants detonated a vehicle-borne improvised explosive device (VBIED) in Sana’a on January 25, killing three al Houthi militants. Additionally, a roadside improvised explosive device (IED) killed three citizens in al Mukalla, the capital city of Hadramawt.
The U.S. continues its targeted airstrike program. The U.S. conducted a targeted airstrike in Harib, Shabwah on January 26, killing three AQAP militants. The strike reportedly targeted a relative of Sheikh Abdul Majid al Zindani, listed by the U.S. in 2004 as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist. The U.S. also closed its embassy in Sana’a to the public due to security concerns, although the embassy remains operational. President Barack Obama met with Saudi Arabia’s new king on January 27 to discuss Yemen’s deteriorating situation.
The U.S. seems to be able to continue targeted airstrikes, but al Houthi control of Yemen’s intelligence organizations will negatively affect U.S. intelligence gathering and counter-terrorism capabilities. AQAP attacks will continue to increase as the group takes advantage of the security vacuum to expand in Yemen’s eastern and southern governorates.