Saudi Brigadier General Ahmed Asseri, the spokesman for the Saudi-led coalition attacking Yemen’s Shi’ite Houthis and trying to reinstall former President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi in power, is talking up the idea of “expanded ground operations” across Yemen today, while touting the takeover of much of the southern Yemeni port city of Aden.
Gen. Asseri insisted that the capture of Aden was positive, but “only the beginning,” and that the intention of the four month long war continues to be the return of Hadi to power nationwide. Hadi resigned in January, and is in exile in Saudi Arabia, awaiting the end of the war.
Saudi Arabia is training thousands of Yemeni fighters in their country now, but has held off on deploying the troops into Yemen because the Hadi forces didn’t actually hold much meaningful territory. Aden is intended to be their new staging area.
The trainees include some former military officers, but are believed to be mostly Sunni tribesmen who the Saudis are trying to get whipped up on sectarian grounds to attack the Shi’ite Houthis. While tribal factions have traditionally been hugely powerful in Yemen, it remains to be seen if one can be counted on as the primary force backing a government. Historically, that has not been the case.