Regional Security Analyst (RSA) Team Lead Miriam Eps and RSA Intern Kierat Ranautta-Sambhi wrote about Yemen in the aftermath of former President Saleh’s death for The Cairo Review of Global Affairs.
“It is not clear, however, whether his death was a turning point. This still largely depends on Saleh’s former allies—the Houthis—and how they perceive their strategic and tactical position. On the one hand, the collapse of the alliance impacted Houthi military capabilities and their upperhand position while Saleh’s assassination created an additional enemy from many of his supporters who are adhering to the alliance’s break. On the other hand, the Houthis are not without friends and they continue to receive external backing from Iran.
With Russia, one of the last diplomatic holdouts in Sanaa, recently moving its embassy to Riyadh due to the “deteriorating security situation” and Saleh’s son promising to destroy the Houthis, the needle seems to point more toward continued conflict than finding a political solution. However, because conflicts are tricky—and Yemen’s is particularly so—it is not impossible that Saleh’s death will, in fact, be a turning point that will help lead to a resolution rather than represent just another reason for the fighting to continue. So what happens next?
The worst case scenario will be to continue pursuing the military option. This will likely result in increased violence and an intensified campaign against the Houthis instead of a politically navigated path forward.”