Battle Continues for Key North Yemen City of Maarib

City is last held by pro-Saudi government in north

Weeks of on-again, off-again fighting in northern Yemen continues to center on the outskirts of the city of Maarib, the last government held city in the country’s north. The Houthi movement has approached the area, seizing a nearby mountain, and continue to push into the area.

A lot of the talk of Maarib’s value is overstated, but both sides have invested in fighting over it to the point that the result is going to be consequential for the war, particularly reflecting how hard it is for either side to come up with meaningful gains.

The fall of Maarib to the Houthis could be a major blow to the Saudi war effort, which is already not going well. If anything this might force them into approaching peace talks again, and the practical north-south split could be a basis for ending the conflict.

With pro-Saudis in northern Yemen mostly displaced around Maarib, they say they are confident they have enough loyalists to keep the city from falling. That is clearly the hope for them, but the constant fighting, as everywhere, is taking its toll on the civilians.

Whether Maarib falls or just becomes another permanent stalemate, moving on to a peace process is still going to take effort, and that will be the real test of if Maarib is the beginning of the end, or just another deadly clash in the open-ended 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.