Fighting in late August over Yemen’s third city of Taiz was intense, but quickly stalemated, and at the time the pro-Saudi forces shifted tack, moving the bulk of their force eastward into the Maarib Province to try to seize that highway as a route into the capital of Sanaa.
The fighting has centered on Maarib ever since, but Emirati officials, whose troops are fighting alongside the Saudis, suggested that could soon change, and that Taiz is once again a “front line” in the ongoing war, and one they believe they can contest.
This may to some extent reflect the slow going in Maarib, but officials say that last week’s gains in the coastal area along the Baab al-Mandab Strait, also in the Taiz Province, means that they are in a better position than they were before to move against Houthi possessions in the area.
While most highways in Yemen eventually connect the southern port of Aden, controlled by the pro-Saudi faction, to the Houthi-held capital of Sanaa, Taiz is the straightest shot. Maarib was a more roundabout way of getting there, and while those are far from the only two possibilities, they are likely to remain the focus in an increasingly bloody war, which is taking a huge civilian toll along with the military one.