Saudi coalition fights with Houthis in Yemen’s major gas-producing region

The Mideast has already felt a heavy blow this year as Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and their allies launch a bombing campaign against Iran-aligned Houthi rebels in Yemen, following the Houthis’ takeover of the capital Sanaa.

But the bombing campaign was only beginning in Yemen, and hostilities are about to heat up in Marib city.

Marib province, a top gas-producing region, remains a quiet hub. But, as U.S. News and World Report reported last week, coalition strikes and airstrikes are kicking up tensions among the locals:

For months, Houthi rebels on one side and renegade tribesmen on the other have been firing mortars at one another, often ending up in roadside battles. The government has fired two drones to man the skies. The Saudis arrested another Saudi tribal leader on suspicion of harboring the Houthis — a move that enraged tribesmen in Marib.

About six months ago, the Saudi-led coalition began battling Houthi rebels in another part of the country. The coalition claims the rebels target oil pipelines to inflict damage that would force the coalition to re-install the rebels’ supply lines. As a consequence, coalition airstrikes are now covering a 20-mile radius in Marib, residents say. The Houthis claim their vehicles and their weaponry are the targets.

But Marib’s residents know that not everyone agrees on the point of conflict. Gas, electricity and water are all unavailable in parts of the city, and were not likely to arrive any time soon. “When we go to buy food, we can’t. No price of any food has been increased in a year,” says Mudie Khurov, who, with his family, was hiding in a neighbor’s house when it was hit. “I’m not worried.”

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