The entry of Yemeni National Resistance Forces into battle against the Houthis (Ansarallah) on the side of the Yemeni forces and the Arab coalition may be a game changer in the country's war, Yemeni observers tell Al-Mashareq.
The National Resistance Forces, led by Brig. Gen. Tareq Mohammad Abdullah Saleh, last week seized control of areas around Khaled Ibn al-Waleed camp in western Yemen, where the Iran-backed Houthis are positioned.
Within 24 hours of their entry into battle, the resistance forces gained control of the heights surrounding the camp, located at al-Mokha junction between al-Hodeidah and Taez provinces.
With this move, they intend to sever the Houthis' supply route to their fighters.
Saleh is the nephew of former Yemeni president and General People’s Congress (GPC) head Ali Abdullah Saleh, who was slain by the Houthis on December 4th after publicly renouncing his party's alliance with the Iran-backed militia.
The younger Saleh -- who served as a commander in the former Houthi-Saleh alliance and previously headed the elite Presidential Guard -- is now set on avenging his uncle's killing, Yemeni experts told Al-Mashareq.
He has re-entered the fray as the leader of four well-equipped brigades, comprised of 10,000 former Republican Guard and Special Forces troops previously loyal to the elder Saleh, the Emirati news agency, WAM, reported.
Following last week's victory, thousands of Yemenis flocked to enlistment offices around the country to join the reinvigorated ranks of the National Resistance Forces against the Houthis, WAM reported Saturday (April 21st).
This will significantly boost the military effort against the Houthis on Yemen's western coast.
Headway on the Red Sea coast
"The Sahel (coastal) front, led by the Republican Guard and the resistance, is one of the [key] fronts against the Houthis," GPC General Committee member Adel Shuja told Al-Mashareq.
The area along the Red Sea coast has served as "a source of revenue for the Houthi gang", which has hijacked the state and the people, he said.
The Yemeni people "need to be liberated from this gang", he added.
The National Resistance Forces are a military strike force that includes Yemeni army elite units and is highly trained in combat and guerrilla warfare, said Mohammad Anaam, former editor–in-chief of GPC mouthpiece Al-Mithaq newspaper.
"It is difficult to evaluate these forces at the outset of their battles, but they were able, under the command of Brig. Gen. Tareq Saleh, to destroy dozens of Houthi positions in hours," he told Al-Mashareq.
This is "a sign that portends great hope for a victory for our people", he said.
Forces unite against the Houthis
"Everyone knows what the Republican Guard’s entry into the battle means," Anaam said.
"If the Houthis were driven mad by one camp founded by Brig. Gen. Tareq Saleh in Sanaa, imagine what their reaction is now that he commands several camps teeming with thousands of fighters from all parts of Yemen," he said.
Anaam called on all political forces to work to strengthen the unity of the national front to confront Yemen's No. 1 enemy, the Houthis.
"The spring into action by the national army and the resistance at the same time on all fronts will upend the Houthis’ calculations," political researcher Mohammed al-Hoshabi told Al-Mashareq.
The recent operation "will eliminate the conduit through which the Houthis smuggle Iranian weapons into the interior via the port of al-Hodeidah", he said.
"Regaining control of al-Hodeidah from the Houthis would diminish their military and economic capabilities," he added.