Just a day after Houthi forces were driven out of Aden, members of Yemen’s exiled government are moving back in. Though President Hadi isn’t coming back just yet, he is sending a few of his senior officials to set up shop in the meantime. Reuters reports:
Senior members of Yemen’s exiled administration flew into Aden on Thursday to make preparations for the government’s return, an official said, three months after being pushed out by the armed Houthi group. […]
“(Exiled President) Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi delegated this group to return to Aden to work to prepare the security situation and ensure stability ahead of a revival of the institutions of state in Aden,” a local officials told Reuters after the group arrived by helicopter at a military air base.
The delegation included the ministers of the interior and transport, a former interior minister, the intelligence chief and the deputy head of the house of representatives.
Yesterday we pointed out that although a victory in Aden for the Saudi-backed forces is certainly a blow to Houthi momentum, it turns out to be less than meets the eye. Aden, located in the Sunni-majority south, was always likely to be retaken, while the Houthis remain strong in the northwest, the home of the Shi’a-aligned Zaid sect. Yemen will likely continue to sink deeper into its stalemate.
For the Saudis, who have tapped into their shrinking oil wealth to fund their relentless bombing campaign against Houthi positions, the return of Hadi government officials to Aden may free up living space in a few of Riyadh’s guest houses—but it doesn’t solve their Yemen problem. The Houthis, along with their Iranian benefactors that the Saudis detest so much, remain empowered and on the Kingdom’s doorstep.
Houthi forces will probably try to strike back in Aden or incite trouble across the Saudi border in ‘Asir province. But while these two sides continue to square off, al-Qaeda’s Yemen affiliate continues to grow in the east and a humanitarian crisis worsens throughout the country. Though the return of the Hadi government may be a reversal of previous positions, the facts on the ground remain mostly unchanged.