The battle for Sanaa - the tale of a resistance

Catherine Shakdam
Catherine Shakdam is a political analyst, writer and commentator for the Middle East with a special focus on radical movements and Yemen. A regular pundit on RT and other networks her work has appeared in major publications: MintPress, the Foreign Policy Journal, Mehr News and many others.Director of Programs at the Shafaqna Institute for Middle Eastern Studies, Catherine is also the co-founder of Veritas Consulting. She is the author of Arabia’s Rising - Under The Banner Of The First Imam
© Khaled Abdullah
Yemen has reached a decisive crossroads in its fights against imperial Saudi Arabia. As communities, sects and regions have been pitted against each other to serve foreign powers' agenda, the Houthi-led resistance movement might still carry a few arrows to its bow.

With oil-rich Saudi Arabia getting ready to launch what it hopes will be the last blow to the resistance movement, Yemenis are bracing themselves for what is to come; acutely aware that the northern city of Sanaa, could soon become the last stand against Al Saud, the ground were all battles are won or lost.

Now that the kingdom and its regional allies have established a stronghold in the southern seaport of Aden, thus securing both an opening onto the sea and a passageway into the mainland, military equipment and men have flooded in - everyday advancing further into Yemen territory, every day challenging the resolve of Yemen's resistance fighters. But if losses were indeed suffered, if indeed towns and positions were abandoned before the fire power of the Saudi-led coalition, Yemen is far from done.

The real war for Yemen will be ultimately fought in its Highlands, a land which no conqueror could ever tame to its will. And though many tried: from the Romans to the Ottomans, the sons of Hamdan never could be made to submit. This time again, Yemen northern tribes could prove too much of a challenge, even before the combined might of Riyadh's wealth and America's military power.

Yemen, history remembers, does not look kindly on invaders!

And while most media have been only too keen to portray this war against the Republic of Yemen - the only democracy in the Arabian Peninsula - as a liberation campaign against the evil of the Houthis, on the premise they looked to Iran for support and political guidance, the jury is still out on what it is they have done to deserve annihilation.

In just five months Yemen has witnessed more devastation than Syria did in four years. One might even venture to say that if the "Allies" had shown as much resolve in breaking ISIS as the kingdom did in eradicating the Houthis; the world might be a very different place. But of course this would entail that terror is the real enemy, not the alibi.

While the Houthis have been demonized ad nauseam on account of their religious affiliation to Shia Islam as well as their desire to see rise in Yemen a popular democracy, one in the service of the people and not an oligarchy, they are far from alone in this fight.

Behind them, the northern tribes have rallied, offering both their arms and their political weight - all determined to break Al Saud's imperial legacy, all only too aware that should North Yemen fall, the dormant threat of radicalism would awaken an unstoppable monster over Southern Arabia.

Although carefully censored out by an all too pliable Western press, reports have confirmed that Al-Qaeda has conveniently staged a comeback in Yemen’s southern provinces, coincidentally mapping its advances with that of Al Saud's coalition.

With Aden as good as gone, Sana'a is a city waiting for war - barricaded behind the walls of its surrounding mountains, trenches at the ready.

© Khaled Abdullah

And though Riyadh continues to rain lead on the capital city, hoping to lay waste the caches of weapons and hinder the inflow of fighters to the city, Sanaa will never open its doors to Al Saud; its people will stand and fight, defend and protect - until they can no more.

For should Sanaa fall, North Yemen will burn and with it its people, its heritage, its history… Saudi Arabia's warning that it would hunt down and bury all those who dared defy its rule have been burned into people's mind. This fight is one of survival.

And if so far the so-called coalition has refrained from engaging the Houthis alliance where its stands the strongest, it is because it understands only too well the power of the tribes; the legitimacy they offer in their support of one camp or the other.

Sources in Yemen have already confirmed that President Hadi is looking to broker a tribal alliance against the resistance, aware that a frontal confrontation would only further divide the country and potentially lead to an erosion of the kingdom's influence and standing in the region. For a theocracy which claims itself so grand and powerful, Yemen's insurrection movement has become both a dangerous liability and an embarrassment.

More troubling yet for Riyadh, it has inspired others, to revolt against theocratic Al Saud.

And if the kingdom has plotted the demise of Northern Yemen based on bought alliances and political favors, the Houthis and their allies have been too busy organizing a grand resistance movement - one which does not know any borders.

Yemen might be in ruins but its people are not.

With nothing left to lose but their freedom, the northern tribes of Yemen are determined to do whatever it takes to strike deadly blows against the kingdom, starting with the disruption of the world oil route along the Bab Al Mandab strait and cross-border attacks against Saudi Arabia.

If the Saudis undoubtedly retain the military advantage in that their pockets are deeper and their technology superior, the resistance holds crucial geostrategic pressure points. Yemen's resistance will not be easily defeated in its strongholds - not when it enjoys almost absolute popular support, not when its stand against the kingdom has become the stand of an entire nation against tyranny.

In this battle of will, Yemen might still come on top.

For all its political posing and grand statements, Saudi Arabia's resolve against the Houthis is already wavering. So much so that talks of secession between north and south have been discussed in view of avoiding a drawn-out war - a means for the kingdom to establish a satellite Sunni-state and keep the Houthis locked in between two hostile Sunni regimes, while still claiming victory.

Only again, this could prove catastrophic for the kingdom since South Yemen has been a breeding ground of tribal instability and conflicting ambitions.

As we could soon learn to remember, Saudi Arabia's war on Yemen will be its own unraveling.

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.