Tariq Ali Saleh’s forces create new reality on the ground in Yemen

The speed and efficiency of the Guardians of the Republic led by Tariq Saleh have stunned government of Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi.
Thursday 10/05/2018
A file photo of Yemeni General Tariq Saleh. (Reuters)
A file photo of Yemeni General Tariq Saleh. (Reuters)

Yemeni National Resistance Forces have created a new reality on the ground after a series of quick victories brought them to the doorstep of the strategic port of Al Hudaydah.

The speed and efficiency of the Guardians of the Republic led by Tariq Saleh have stunned government of Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi and associated political bodies, especially the Islamist party Al Islah.

The latter found nothing better to do than launch a media campaign against the countries that are part of  the Arab Coalition Forces, those from the United Arab Emirates in particular, hoping to divert public attention from the real reasons behind the failure of the liberation war and from trading Yemen’s future for strictly party and regional interests.

Sources said the purpose of the crisis Al Islah Party had created with the UAE regarding Socotra Island was simply to cover up the fact that there is an enormous difference in terms of results between Saleh at the head of the Guardians of the Republic and Ali Mohsen Saleh al-Ahmar as vice-president. Al-Ahmar had nothing to show for his efforts, hence the stalling being carried ou and the Brotherhood party of Al-Islah behind him.

The same sources indicated that the countries of the Arab Coalition and especially the UAE placed their bets on Saleh only when they had become convinced that the political parties in the Yemeni government were not really keen on carrying on with the war in an effective manner. The coalition had also become aware that there were dubious communication channels between these parties and the Houthis under Qatari and Iranian auspices.

The Yemeni National Resistance Forces along with the Giants’ Brigades and the Tihama Resistance Brigades have finalised their military and logistical preparations for their final push to liberate Al Hudaydah and its port. That port is the last remaining sea gate used by the Houthis to smuggle in weapons from Iran.

Military experts expect the liberation battle of Al-Hudaydah to be brief and swift like Saleh’s previous battles. He has a knack for using modern battle tactics and his forces have a high fighting spirit. The group’s highly trained and highly disciplined former members of the Guardians of the Republic, the Special Forces, and Anti-Terrorist Brigades,  were all dismantled after the Houthi coup in September 2014.

Experts believe that liberating Al Hudaydah will restore safety and security to navigation in the area and put an end to smuggling operations from Iran, A victory by the Guardians of the Republic and allied forces in Al Hudaydah will send a strong message to the Houthis, Iran and the international circles concerned about the situation in Yemen. The message says that a military solution is possible.

Saleh and his forces have given Yemenis new hope for a solution to their crisis, a hope that Hadi’s government and the warring parties inside it had crushed long ago.

Saudi military expert General Hasan al-Shehri believes that changes in the mood of the international community favour a victory in the battle for Al Hudaydah. Previously, the international community had pressured the Arab Coalition Forces to leave the port in the hands of the Houthis even though large quantities of Iranian-made weapons were being smuggled through it.

Al-Shihri said the second factor favouring a victory in Al Hudaydah was Saleh. “He is known for his ability to inspire his troops and his great military expertise in addition to his reliance on the skills of the special forces,” al-Shihri added.

Yemeni political researcher Fares al-Bayl thinks that the important victories on the western coast of Yemen underscore the capacity of the Resistance Forces and their allies for scoring quick victories and especially demonstrate that it is possible to defeat the Houthi militias when all efforts come together in the service of well-drawn-out plans. Al-Bayl says there is a strong determination to break the lines that were either blocking or hindering the liberation of Al Hudaydah and the rest of the western coast. Changing facts on the ground is now the new name of the game in Yemen.

During the past few days, Saleh’s forces and their allies have liberated and secured vast territories in the south-west of Yemen beginning with al-Mocha and moving north towards Al Hudaydah.  For Najib Ghallab, the director of Al Jazeera Centre for Strategic Studies, Saleh’s forces have several factors working in their favour. He said these forces “are special and professional given their background and experience in the Guardians of the Republic, Anti-Terrorist Brigades and the Special Forces. They are highly motivated and their morale is high.”

Yemeni political researcher Fares al-Bayl says Saleh’s fighting experience will also play a major role in the events of the coming phase. He is strong-willed and experienced at the same time. He also knows the Houthis and their modus operandi. He has introduced new fighting techniques in the training of the National Resistance Forces.

Both the Houthis and the Muslim Brotherhood in Yemen are uncomfortable with Saleh’s victories on the western coast. They know the man is charismatic and experienced and might be called upon to play important roles in post-Houthi Yemen.