Saudi-backed Yemen loyalist forces have regained control over the port city of Aden on Friday morning from Houthi rebels, according to an announcement made by the vice president of Yemen’s government-in-exile, Khaled Bahah.
The announcement was made on Bahah’s Facebook page, mentioning that it corroborates with the Eid al-Fitr holiday which marks the end of the Ramadan, the Muslim fasting month. Troops loyal to the government, backed by Saudi-trained soldiers and air support from a coalition of Arab states, had recently begun a new offensive on the city’s second largest city, where some of the most intense fighting took place during the last four months.
Nicknamed “Operation Golden Arrow”, the offensive launched on Tuesday accomplished its goal of forcing the rebels out of Aden. The Houthi rebellion captured Aden in March, forcing Yemen’s de-jure government into exile in Saudi Arabia.
Bahah also pledged in the name of the exiled government to work towards restoring normal daily life in the city, including the re-establishment of utilities severely damaged by fighting such as the city’s electricity systems and water supplies.
The Houthi, an important Shiite minority in Yemen, have been in open conflict with the country’s government for over a decade, but the situation has escalated at the beginning of this year when they seized control of capital Sana’a. They went on to force the exile of president Abd Rabbuh Mansour Hadi and the resignation of Prime Minister Mohammed Basindawa, establishing their own Revolutionary Committee and gaining de-facto control of the Western part of Yemen.
However, the Houthi’s offensive to gain control over the rest of the country has been set back by the intervention of a coalition of Arab states led by neighboring Saudi Arabia, which plan to bring back control of the country to its exiled government currently operating in Riyadh. The Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula acts as a third belligerent party in the conflict, controlling large swaths of Eastern Yemen including the important port-city of Al Mukalla.
Foreign intervention has already become a staple in the conflict, as the United States offered logistic support and shared area intelligence with the Arab coalition, while the Houthi insurgency has been allegedly backed by Iran, the center of Shia Islam in the Arab world, and paramilitary groups such as Gaza’s Hezbollah.
Unfortunately, the conflict has been disastrous for Yemen’s population, with UN estimates stating that almost 80 percent of its current inhabitants – amounting to more than 20 million people – necessitate humanitarian aid for basic commodities such as food or medicine. However, a UN negotiated one-week truce which was supposed to allow foreign into the country did not last more than a couple of hours last week as food convoys were allegedly attacked and denied access into critical areas.
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