In the last few days, forces loyal to the Yemeni government have made some advances, capturing areas from the Houthis who currently also control the capital Sanaa. As 2021 came to an end, forces of the "Giants Brigades" relocated from the outskirts of Hodeidah to the southwest, where they took control of a few villages leading to Taiz. Now the same forces, who are loyal to Yemen's internationally recognised government, and also receive support from the United Arab Emirates (UAE), engaged in fighting with the Houthis in Shabwa district in central Yemen.
As part of a military operation dubbed the “Cyclone of the South”, the "Giants Brigades" captured Usaylan, one of the largest districts of the Yemeni governorate of Shabwa, which had been under the control of the Houthi militias. It is reported that the forces are keen on taking control of more areas around Shabwa.
Shabwa is no less important than Marib - the centre of the oil producing area, which forces of the recognised government have been defending stubbornly - since it houses key energy and export infrastructure. Forces loyal to the UAE already control parts of the governorate which has seen tension between local forces backed by the UAE and others backed by the Saudis.
Strategically speaking, Shabwa could also help the government forces to further pressure the Houthis in Marib potentially ending their campaign in the oil-rich governorate.
On another note, a UAE flagged ship heading to a southern Saudi port was hijacked by Houthi fighters, who claimed that the ship was carrying arms while the Saudis said on Monday (3 January) that the ship carried medical equipment.
The Houthis' military spokesman confirmed the seizure of a cargo ship but said it was carrying military equipment and engaged in “hostile acts targeting the security and stability of the Yemeni people.” The spokesman later added that the crew, “of different nationalities,” were still on board.
Source: commonspace.eu with Asharq Al-Awsat (London) and The Jerusalem Post (Jerusalem).
Picture: Soldier loyal to the Yemeni government stands in front of a local district’s office after capturing it; Twitter: @aselsaqladi.