Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

Yemen’s National Army Secures Key Mokha-Taiz Route, Cutting off Insurgency Arms Supply | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Members of the Yemeni army ride on the back of military trucks near the Red Sea coast city of al-Mokha, Yemen January 23, 2017. REUTERS/Fawaz Salman

Taiz- The Yemeni National Army, backed by the Saudi-led Arab Coalition air power, continued its push against coup militias overrunning governorates. Renewed clashes erupted with massive losses being registered on behalf of coup militants composed of loyalists fighting by the side of ousted president Ali Abdullah Saleh and Iran-aligned Houthis.

Army forces in Taiz, located in northern Yemen, announced sweeping advances towards the full liberation of the area from coup militias.

National army units made the announcement after liberating the key port city of Mokha, in Taiz. The whopping advance was a chief target accomplished in keep with the military coalition-backed operation ‘Golden Spear.’ Yemeni forces backed by the Saudi-led Arab Coalition freed the strategic Red Sea port city from Iran-aligned Houthis Monday afternoon.

Houthi forces had controlled Mokha since they overran the capital Sana’a in September 2014 and advanced on other regions aided by troops loyal to former president Ali Abdullah Saleh.

“The battle taking place at the west coast means that the power balance has shifted to its final position in Yemen—the artillery pipeline supplying coup militants has been completely cut off, scattering their factions across mountains terrain and leaving them besieged,” political analyst Bassim al Hakimi says.

Forces supporting President Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi, backed by a Saudi-led coalition, launched a vast offensive on January 7 to retake the coastline overlooking the Bab Al Mandab strait.

The strait is a strategically vital maritime route connecting the Red Sea and the Indian Ocean.

“The victory has torn apart the coup militias’ symbolic sovereignty embodied in their control over key ports and vital institutes,” he added.

“Taiz’s liberation now is a matter of resolution alone, freeing the key port city, Mokha will open up the road before pro-government forces to go in with full-blown force to the eastern side of the country,” Hakimi said.

“Outbreak of civilian revolt supporting legitimacy forces would fire up crowds, burning down militias at once,” he explained.

Many militants had surrendered to army units, while others fled the site, field sources told Asharq Al-Awsat. More so, Houthi combatants would leave behind all those killed and injured, as well as artillery, while escaping the battlefield.

“The liberation of Mokha will push forward more advances—most important being the lifting Taiz’ militia-imposed siege,” said another political analyst, Rashad Ali al-Sharbaai.

“Liberating the rest of Taiz is a plus, not to mention that the main supply pipeline arming coup factions would be cut off,” Sharbaai added.

Other analysts said that freeing Mokha has facilitated moving to the operation’s next target, Hodeidah, the largest port in territory controlled by Iran-backed militants.

President Hadi congratulated pro-government forces and the people of Yemen on the victory in Mokha, and urged the forces to push forth across the country’s many front lines – which until now have mostly fallen into stalemate – until they liberate the whole country from the rebels, Yemen’s official Saba news agency as reported.