Around 3000 troops just landed in Aden largely under the world media’s radar
Over the last week, the entire momentum of the war in Yemen has shifted. While previously pro-government forces and the so-called Popular Resistance were trapped within the port city of Aden, now they are pushing the Houthis back in all directions. First they managed to secure the port facilities, then the entire residential region of the city, and then finally the Aden International Airport.
Many have reported these advances as being led by pro-Government fighters, however this is only half the story. What is actually occurring is far more remarkable, and strangely almost absent from the media headlines.
Last week, and over the weekend, ships arrived at the Port of Aden and began offloading armoured vehicles. This started as small columns of vehicles, which could have conceivable been ‘delivered’ to the pro-government fighters, however has now ballooned into something completely different. Hundreds of vehicles including main battle tanks, APCs, AFVs and self propelled artillery have landed in the city, and joined the fight against the mainly Shia Houthi militias.
Given the huge numbers of vehicles involved, and it would seem that these must almost certainly be regular Emirati troops. Indeed this has been effectively confirmed by comments from coalition officials who have said that 3000 troops, made up of UAE regulars and foreign-trained Yemenis had made landfall in Aden. Effectively, an entire foreign armoured division has invaded Yemen, however it is politically convenient for the Saudi-led coalition (of which the UAE is a large partner) not to talk much about it.
With the entry of these troops into the fight, the fortunes of the pro-Government side have changed dramatically. Since recapturing Aden and its surroundings, the UAE troops supported by other militias have pushed north, attacking the strategic Al-Anad air base from several sides. After days of fighting, Houthi fighters surrendered just yesterday, leaving the pro-Government side in control of the country’s largest airbase.
Despite these victories, these 3000 troops and armour alone will probably not be enough to unseat the Houthis from the rest of Yemen. There, the Iran-backed force is deeply entrenched and has managed to inflict a steady stream of causalities on Saudi border troops despite continuous aerial bombardment.
Should the Saudi-led coalition and the UAE troops wish to attain complete regime change in Yemen’s capital Sanaa, they will need to send yet more troops to the country, with the risk that they will eventually been seen as occupying powers. An alternative prospect to this would be for the former government to set up its own state in the south of Yemen, and come to some sort of ceasefire agreement. It is likely that the events of the next few months will be instrumental in deciding which of these outcomes will eventuate.