The strategic importance of Ma’rib: Saudi-backed Hadi’s ‘last stronghold’

Middle East Observer

The strategic importance of Ma’rib: Saudi-backed Hadi’s ‘last stronghold’

February 25, 2021

Description:

TV report on the strategic importance of Ma’rib province for the fate of the ongoing conflict in Yemen, particularly following reports that Sana’a-led forces were on the verge of taking control over the entire Ma’rib governate.

Source: Al Maydeen TV

Date: Feb 20, 2021

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Transcript:

Television presenter:

Welcome. The Yemeni army and armed forces are advancing in Ma’rib. We are witnessing a decisive battle because we are talking about the last northern city in Yemen that remains under the control of the government of Abd Rabbu Mansour Hadi. Establishing control over this city would deal a heavy blow to this government and would be a major advantage to the (Sana’a-led) armed forces and the tribes of Ma’rib. So why Ma’rib?

The strategic, oil-rich governorate of Ma’rib lies to the east of the capital, Sana’a, about 120 km away from it. Al-Mayadeen sources confirm that Sana’a-led forces have taken control of Tala’at al-Hamra and surrounding sites in the Sarwah district, west of the (Ma’rib) governorate. This is taking place after a series of concentrated military operations on multiple fronts over the past year. (Following these operations, Sana’a-led forces) have gained control over multiple regions in Ma’rib, including Mahliya and Rahba in the south, Serwah about 30 km west of Ma’rib, and have seized control over the Coufal camp (i.e. the largest Hadi government military camp). In the meantime, hit-and-run raids continue in the north and northeastern districts of Ma’rib, such as Raghwan, Hailan, Al-Kassara, Jabal Murad, and others.

For the forces of Sana’a, gaining control over Ma’rib represents the fall of the last stronghold of the Hadi administration, and a further step towards controlling northern Yemen as a whole. It also provides an open road to the southern governorates such as Shabwa and Hadramout, leading to “the liberation of every inch of Yemen”, as a military commander in Ansarullah says.

According to the Carnegie Middle East Center, for the Hadi administration, Ma’rib is the last resort in the north for its political team, especially for the Islah party. AFP says the city was seen as a Saudi protectorate in which Riyadh invested heavily. Perhaps this is what explains the information gained by Al Mayadeen sources indicating that Hadi’s forces and the Saudi coalition are trying to use refugee camps in Ma’rib as human shields to prevent the (Sana’a-led) army and (popular) forces from advancing.

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