Dozens Killed as Yemen’s New Civil War Heats Up

Saleh Forces Attack Hadi Forces in Increasingly Complex Conflict

Dozens of people were reported killed today as forces loyal to the Houthi rebellion reached the area near recently resigned President Hadi’s forces, near Aden.

The Houthis seized the town of Kirsh, north of Aden, but lost it later in the day to heavy artillery fire, other clashes were noted in several areas along the frontier by the two forces.

Perhaps the most important development, however, was in Qatabah, where forces from the 133rd Brigade of the Yemeni military attacked forces from another unnamed, but pro-Hadi brigade.

The 133rd, incredibly, remains loyal to the dictator before Hadi, Ali Abdullah Saleh, who transferred power to Hadi in February 2012, but after 35 years of stacking the military with loyalists, he retained considerable influence. This brings up two interesting ramifications.

One is that Gen. Hadi, himself a military strongman, had spent his three years in power constantly purging Saleh relatives and loyalists from the military, and is still losing whole brigades to Saleh in the new civil war.

But more importantly, this is adding to rumors that Saleh is backing the Houthis, which others had predicted because he’s also a Shi’ite, but is odd because Saleh’s main military effort in his last several years of rule was an incredibly brutal crackdown on the Houthis themselves.

Another possibility is an alliance of convenience, as Saleh was never thrilled with giving up power in the face of the Arab Spring, and might be trying to use the civil war to shoehorn his way back into the picture.

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Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is news editor of Antiwar.com.