Local News

Mapping Spheres of Influence Between Hadi and Houthis

National Yemen

By Abd AlAziz Al Amer

After the Houthies announced what they claimed to be a constitutional declaration and finalized their coup in Sana’a by force on the 6th of last February, many developments have taken place. Most importantly was the escape of President Hadi from house arrest imposed on him by the Houthies from Sana’a to Aden. This resulted in the split of spheres of influence between the two parties with the added presence of forces supporting former president Ali Abdullah Saleh.

The newspaper here, sheds light on the spheres of influence split between the Houthis and President Hadi and provincial attitudes towards both parties.

Houthi militants have imposed their power on the capital and are currently protecting governmental institutions, especially commercial and government-owned banks. This was achieved by coordinating with the Special Forces, commanded by former president Ali A. Saleh. Since army brigades, rockets, and Al-Dailmi Military Airport are under Houthi control, President Hadi has no control over the capital. The airport is used to perform air strikes on Al-Qaeda locations in Southern provinces. In addition, ‘Amran, Al-Mahweet, and Sa’ada provinces are currently under Houthies control.

Hodeidah and Hajjah:

After the capital was taken over by Houthies in September and its institutions were occupied, they continued towards Al-Hodeidah province, which hosts the second largest port in Yemen. Their spread continued towards Dhamar and Hajjah, taking the two provinces under their control. Al-Hodeidah port is considered one of the main ports in Yemen through which the country imports weapons and food materials as well as oil production. Controlling Hodeidah’s international port has made the Houthies more powerful. This port enabled them to receive weapons from Iran, Russia and other weapons of unknown size from other countries. Al-Hodeidah province is considered a link between KSA and the capital Sana’a. People in Al Hodeidah are still demonstrating against the Houthies and align with President Hadi. The Houthies, however have appointed one of their allies from the GPC as a new governor.

President Hadi is currently residing in Aden. 80% of the province, which is located in the south, is controlled by the Special Forces headed by General Al-Saqqaf, who rejected Hadi’s dismissal. Those forces control Aden International Airport, the Central Bank, and the province’s entrances on Al-Areesh road. This is all happening while People’s Committees, coming from Abyan, control what remained from the province in Al-Ma’asheeq, the site of the Presidential Palace.

Southern Al-Dhale is controlled by the forces of General Abdullah Dhaba’an, a supporter of the former president Ali Saleh. His forces are spread over many areas of the province and he receives his orders from Sana’a by senior leaders opposed to Hadi. The local authority and the province itself gets its orders from Hadi. The influence of President Hadi in this province is small because the southern movement considers Hadi to be one of the leaders of the Northern occupation.

Abyan :
Abyan is considered one of the provinces most under Hadi’s control. Armed groups are protecting the president in Aden. Al-Qaeda, however, has an intermittent presence.

Hadhramout and Shabwah :
Hadhramout and Shabwah, which are rich in oil, are located in the east of Yemen. They are divided between Hadi and Houthi control. Hadhramout is ruled by a military brigade, which works against President Hadi, while Hadi maintains a strong influence in this governorate as well. In Shabwah, he has a great influence through his links with tribal sheikhs who have demonstrated against the coup and promised to protect the province against any attack. They also declared their support for his constitutional legitimacy.

Mareb governorate is located northeast Yemen. Mareb has continued its fight against the Houthis, who have failed to control it. President Hadi has a strong influence in Mareb since Sultan Al-Arada, who is an ally of President Hadi, is  currently in charge of the governorate.