With the Yemeni government all but irrelevant at this point, the nation’s southwest is shaping up to become a major battleground, as the Shi’ite Houthi rebels expand south along the Red Sea coast and al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) challenges them over the region.
After seizing the capital city, the Houthis spent quite some time consolidating their gains therein, but this week they began expanding again, taking key cities along the coast, and running headlong into AQAP when they got too close.
Now, AQAP is the one looking to expand, today capturing the southwestern town of Udain, burning the police station and attacking the local government offices.
The capture of Udain makes the Ibb Province the main battleground for AQAP versus Houthi violence, as the Houthis had taken the Ibb capital earlier in the day.
AQAP wasn’t done, however, overrunning the al-Adeen area and seizing a military base there, as well as robbing a local bank in the mountainous coastal region. The Ibb Province isn’t in either faction’s heartland, but it is close enough in both cases that the fight over the sphere of influence could spill over into more densely populated areas.