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article imageOp-Ed: Houthis take northern Yemen province and now move south

By Ken Hanly     Mar 18, 2020 in World
Yemen's rebel Houthi movement reported on Tuesday that they had taken control of almost the whole of Jawf Province a northern province that borders Saudi Arabia. The advance marks one of the largest gains for the group in months.
Houthis may push south into oil and gas producing areas
Yahya Saree, a spokesperson for the Houthis, said Tuesday that they’ve overtaken almost all of Al-Jawf province. This will free Houthi forces to concentrate on moving south.
While controlling more border areas is useful the Houthis,who are supported by Iran, already control much of the north including the capital Sanaa. Indications are that the Houthis will now will try to push south into Maarib Province. Here Yemen's limited but nevertheless valuable oil and gas industries are based.
Fighting escalates in Maarib
On Tuesday, fighting had already escalated in Maarib with clashes killing 18. Both sides claimed they had the advantage. However, as with much fighting lately in other central provinces the fighting could be a stalemate and could continue for some time. However, with the northern border area secured there could be Houthi reinforcement strengthening their side.
The Houthis may be anxious to seize more territory as leverage in future peace talks providing them with the superior bargaining position.
Saudis would like to see peace talks
The Saudis would like to see peace talks. The war has been costly both in financial terms and in the international reputation of Saudi Arabia. Dropping oil prices make it even more difficult to finance the war. The Saudis would agree to having the Houthis share in power with the Saudi supported Hadi government, whom the Saudis have been trying unsuccessfully so far to reinstate. However, Hadi has resisted any such solution demanding complete defeat of the Houthis. Saudis may decide that peace is more important than Hadi's demands and may end up agreeing to terms that Hadi will either have to accept or lose any Saudi support. Hadi might be wise to accept a power-sharing agreement with the Houthis as they appear to be gaining ground rather than facing defeat. Otherwise, he could end up with no power at all.
The five year war has had huge humanitarian consequences. Since a Saudi bombing campaign began back in 2015 tens of thousands of people have been killed and the attacks have created one of the worst humanitarian crises on the globe.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of DigitalJournal.com
More about Houthis, Yemen civil war, Maarib Province Yemen
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