Resistance fighters in the southern city of Aden--which has been facing the brunt of pro-Houthi/pro-Saleh aggression since March--launched a major counteroffensive on Tuesday, retaking Khor Maksar district and Aden International Airport and reportedly pushing Houthi/Saleh forces out of parts of Aden's lower districts as well. According to reports that have circulated quietly in recent days, the Saudi-led coalition has been bringing heavy weapons, vehicles, and coalition-trained Yemeni fighters into Burayqah Port for several weeks in preparation for this assault. Along with these assets, the coalition also provided air support to resistance fighters as they advanced across northern Aden.
Adenis report KSA-trained fighters arrived to Buraiqa last week. KSA also withholding approval for Sana'a flights starting from 7/15.
— Amel A. (@amelscript) July 9, 2015
Heavy weapons and troops sent in by sea over the past six weeks are helping turn the tables now for the Southern Resistance in Aden.
— Iona Craigأيونا كريج (@ionacraig) July 14, 2015
— Hisham Al-Omeisy (@omeisy) July 14, 2015
Five important things to note about today's events:
- Though Adenis and people throughout the south are celebrating, I expect there's still a lot of fighting to come in this part of the country. Even if the Houthi/Saleh forces are driven out of Aden completely (they haven't been, yet), there are several factions in the area that don't all get along. They're all armed now, and there's still no central Adeni leadership to which they all answer.
- No matter what you read in the papers, the resistance fighters in Aden are not "pro-Hadi" or "pro-government" or "loyalists." They are mostly pro-independence, and some will resist any attempt by the Hadi government or Saudi Arabia to take control.
- Fighters aligned with AQAP and/or IS are present in Aden. They are by no means the leading faction there, but they are in the mix, and they have their own agenda.
- A victory for the resistance won't mean an end to the humanitarian catastrophe in Aden. According to the World Food Program, even the Saudi-controlled ports weren't open for aid deliveries today. Furthermore, as long as the Saudi blockade continues to shut out commercial traffic, Aden and Yemen will not have enough food or fuel to survive.
- I don't have anything definite or insightful to say about Yemen's relevance to larger geopolitical events, but it might not be a coincidence that this offensive started just around the time the US and Europe announced the conclusion of a political deal with Iran.
I've set up a Google map of Aden and its environs, marking a couple of important locations. The map is edit-able, so please feel free to add your own notes and markers: