Hundreds Dead in Battle for Marib
On September 29, 2021, it became clear that the situation in Marib, Yemen is increasingly untenable for Yemeni government forces. For nearly two weeks, the embattled garrison has struggled to hold the line in the face of increasingly deadly attacks from Houthi rebels. According to estimates from international observers, aid workers, and The Intelligence Ledger, several hundred combatants and civilians had been killed over the course of the battle. Despite high causalities incurred from continuous Royal Saudi Air Force (RSAF) sorties, the Houthi's have pressed towards the city since since February. Marib, the provincial capital of the oil rich Marib Governorate, is a vital transportation hub that connects the northern part of the country to other government-held provinces. The rebels believe the defeat of government troops in the city would signify a major defeat for the regime, and signal that its lifespan was nearing its end.
Since 2014, Yemen has been torn apart by a fierce and bloody civil war. On one side, the internationally recognized government of Maeen Abdulmalik Saeed has struggled to maintain control over a collection of provinces in the north of the country while simultaneously developing those areas firmly under its grasp in the south. Although backed overtly and covertly by a coalition of Arab governments, including Saudi Arabia, Saeed has been unable to make significant gains in the fight against the insurgents.
The Houthi rebels are a collection of organizations and groups known formally as Ansar Allah (Partisans of God). The United States Government and allied nations have charged that the Houthi's are simply a proxy of Iran, based largely on the fact that the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) supplies the rebels with weaponry and equipment. The Intelligence Ledger, however, argues that the Houthi's are not under the direct control of Tehran, and operates largely as aan autonomous group interested solely in securing Yemen from the government of Maeen Abdulmalik Saeed.
Due to a lack of clarity in regards to the tactical and operational situation on the ground, The Intelligence Ledger will refrain from making an assessment as to the possible outcome of the engagement at this time. However, it is clear that the loss of Marib to rebel forces would be a major blow to the government of Maeen Abdulmalik Saeed. At the tactical and operational levels, the loss would leave combat units and garrisons in northern Yemen without logistical support or reinforcements. On the strategic level, Houthi leadership could justifiably argue their victory marks a major turning point in an otherwise stagnant conflict. Furthermore, a successful assault on Marib would spell disaster for the thousands of non-combatants within the city's limits.