Yemen’s Houthis Make Push for Last Government Stronghold in Maarib

Officials report five attacks in past 24 hours

Reflecting a war that has not seen substantial territory change hands in years, the North Yemeni Houthi movement has launched a new offensive in Maarib Province, aiming to overrun a camp held by the Saudi-backed government, which is materially the last stronghold in the north.

Reports are that 20 of the pro-government fighters were killed, 28 wounded. Houthi casualties are reported, but figures are as yet not available, and the Houthis have sent reinforcements to keep contesting the area.

After moving into the southern city of Aden, the Saudi-led invasion force spent early years of the war trying to advance northward on the capital of Sanaa. The first offensive stalled around Taiz, on the main highway connecting the two. This started an alternative offensive aimed to go through Maarib.

The fall of Maarib would be a coup for the Saudi War in Yemen, which is increasingly shaking out with two sides dominating the old Republics of North and South Yemen, before the 1990 unification.

This may ultimately be the simplest way to break up the war, as the Saudis moved the “capital” to Aden long ago, the capital of old South Yemen, and the Houthis seem to have a good deal of control over the north.

The interest in contesting Maarib comes just days after the US moved to remove the Houthis from the list of terrorists. This may be a signal that the US wants a deal made to end the Yemen War, or simply a recognition that the current status quo is roughly where things will end up, so they may as well recognize the Houthis as having survived the conflict.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for 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.