Feb. 10-16: War of Words between Houthis and Foreign Powers

The closure of several western diplomatic missions as well as those of GGC countries in Yemen got the most attention in local media during the last week. One of the leading local media outlets speculated that the departure of the missions, all of which cited security concerns over the Houthi group's seizure of power, could be a preamble to an international military action against the group. The Houthis are often referred to as an Iranian proxy aimed at destabilizing neighboring Saudi Arabia.

The prospect of a military action against Houthi forces increased as the Egyptian envoy to Yemen threatened to use force if the Houthi leadership decided to shut the Bab al-Mandab Strait.

Yemen’s main political parties were reported to have lost hope that the ongoing UN-brokered talks would ever bring about a way out of the current political crisis. They warned the international community that the danger coming out of Yemen would reach all states overseeing transition if those states "didn't act".

The top official in Marib, the oil rich province expected to witness heavy clashes between local tribesmen and Houthi militias, has vowed to take defense actions if the Houthis invade.

Militants of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula stormed the base of a military brigade in Shabwah and looted materiel, claiming that it did so to thwart a Houthi bid to take over the brigade. The recent security vacuum has also led oil companies in southern and eastern Yemen to stop operations.

In the southern port city of Aden, clashes between militias known as Popular Committees—which are loyal to (former) President Hadi—and Central Security Forces said to be loyal to Ansar Allah erupted overnight, with the militias gaining the upper hand and reportedly taking control of government buildings.

Military and security commanders in the south reportedly addressed the issue. The situation remains volatile as the Houthi group slammed Sunday’s UN Security Council resolution, calling on GCC states and the international community to “respect the Yemeni peoples’ will and sovereignty.”