“The big question related to Saleh’s death is who will take his place. A clear successor, with many pointing to his son Ahmed as a potential candidate, could allow for the continuity of Saleh’s position, including vis-a-vis any attempts at resolving the conflict,” said Miriam Eps, regional security analyst at Manama-based risk management consultancy Le Beck International.
In the short term, his death is likely to increase violence in Sana’a as Saleh forces will be looking to retaliate and the Houthis might attempt to retake areas of the capital lost in recent days, she said. Ultimately, the dissolution of the Houthis’ alliance with Saleh undermines their military might and their negotiating position, she said.
“Saleh’s death, therefore, is a major blow because it removes a key influencer, but the real question is how the Houthis intend to move forward,” she said. “Continued conflict is certainly an option, and they could turn to Iran for increased support, but they may also realize that the dissolution of their alliance means they have to negotiate.”