Yemenis eye Ma’rib as infighting rocks Saudi-led coalition

A senior Yemeni official has said the country’s armed forces are seeking to liberate the central province of Ma’rib after taking control of the neighboring strategic province of al-Jawf, which borders Saudi Arabia.

Speaking to the Lebanese al-Mayadeen television channel, Mohammed al-Bukhaiti, a member of Yemen’s Supreme Political Council, said “our victory in the al-Jawf province is almost certain”.

“We have now set our eyes on the battle for Ma’rib,” he added.

Yemeni forces, along with Houthi fighters from the popular Ansarullah movement, seized al-Hazm, the capital city of the neighboring al-Jawf province earlier this week.

The capture of the strategic city of al-Hazm has been described as a potentially “game-changing” development, enabling the Yemeni forces to surround the strategic oil-rich Ma’rib province.

Al-Bukhaiti added that the security of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, Riyadh’s main ally in its war on Yemen, can only be guaranteed when Yemen’s sovereignty is respected.

The Yemeni forces have launched increasingly sophisticated attacks against both Persian Gulf countries in response to the five-year war aimed at reinstating Saudi-allied former Yemeni president Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi and crushing the popular Ansarullah movement.

Al-Bukhaiti also urged the Islah party, which is the backbone of Hadi’s so-called government in the port city of Aden, to accept a political settlement offered by Ansarullah.

If the Islah party does not enter “the political process”, Ansarullah will proceed to negotiate directly with individual Yemeni tribes to hasten a political settlement, the senior Yemeni official said.