38 Killed as Yemen’s Houthis Clash with Tribesmen in Oil Rich South

Houthis Aim to Take al-Qaeda Dominated Stronghold

While most of the focus in Yemen remains on the Saudi-led air war, and the imminent Saudi invasion of the country, the Houthi faction which holds the capital city of Sanaa and much of the west coast is looking to expand its hold nationwide.

Today, the fighting centered on the Shabwa Province, in the oil-rich Usaylan region, where al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) and Ansar al-Sharia hold sway. 38 were killed in fighting between the Houthis and Sunni tribesmen.

Tribal sources confirmed the death toll, and claimed only eight of the slain were from their side, with the other 30 either Houthis or their allies from the Yemeni military.

Reports are that the Yemeni military forces backing them against the Sunni Islamist factions are loyal to former dictator Ali Abdullah Saleh, who reigned in Yemen for decades until his ouster in 2012, and replacement with military leader Gen. Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi.

Hadi himself resigned in January, though the Saudis’ war aims to reinstall him. In the meantime, the Houthis are gaining ground across the country.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for Antiwar.com. He has 20 years of experience in foreign policy research and his work has appeared in The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.