It’s been nearly two months and a half (74 days as of Monday, June 8) since the Saudi-led aerial offensive was launched to achieve the stated goals: the Houthis’ advancement has not yet been halted, nor has been restored to power the exiled government in Riyadh. Over the past week, both pro-Houthi fighters and pro-Saleh forces intensified their cross-border attacks, while the Saudi airstrikes continued to pound their bases and target their leading members in several cities, including the capital, Sanʻa.
On Friday, the Republican Guards, loyal to the former president Ali Abdullah Saleh, failed to advance on the Saudi city of Jaizan, as Houthi fighters continued to attack the neighboring areas. On Saturday, pro-Houthi fighters fired a Scud missile targeting the Khamis Mushait airbase inside Saudi Arabia, but the Saudi Air Defense Forces intercepted the missile. Using such a ballistic missile in the battle, the Houthi spokesperson said, is like a “quantum leap” and a “warning message.”
As June 14 was finally set for the Geneva talks, the aerial and cross-border attacks intensified, and both sides have reinforced their positions. Such escalation of fighting is likely to undermine the UN-backed efforts, although the political parties, including the Houthis, have agreed to participate in the upcoming Geneva talks without preconditions. Meanwhile, Houthi delegates flew to the Russian capital, Moscow, for meetings with Kremlin officials, which follow their weeks-long talks with American and Iranian officials in the Omani capital, Muscat.
On the ground, combat continues to flare up largely in Aden, Taʻiz, Marib and al-Dhaliʻ cities as Saudi airstrikes serve as air cover for the so-called “popular resistance.”
As of May 31, over 2200 Yemenis had been killed across the country, half of them civilians, and 10,000 injured, while nearly 10,000 others have fled to Djibouti as refuges. The number of the IDPs has amounted to more than one million people; most of them are forced to live in public spaces and unhealthy conditions.