Exclusive: Yemen Braces For Impending Massive US-Led Air and Ground Campaign

Insider reports reveal ominous preparations for a massive military operation in Yemen, with US and UK forces backed by Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the UAE poised for aerial and ground assaults on Yemeni territory.

Senior military officials in Sana’a have informed MintPress News of ongoing military preparations by the US, UK, and Saudi-led Coalition over the past two weeks. According to these sources, there are plans to initiate a significant aerial assault on the Yemeni mainland, focusing particularly on coastal regions in the west, as well as areas in the south near the Saudi border. This assault is expected to be accompanied by ground offensives carried out by factions aligned with the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain.

MintPress News sources indicate a probable escalation, coinciding with significant military reinforcements. Notably, squadrons of US F-16 aircraft have been arriving at Prince Sultan Air Base in Saudi Arabia, located less than 200 kilometers from the Yemeni border. Additionally, extensive air transport activities involving weapons and equipment have been observed over the past two weeks, with US cargo planes shuttling to and from military bases in Saudi Arabia and Djibouti.

On April 29, the Aviano Air Base in Italy declared the deployment of F-16 Fighting Falcon jets from its 510th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron to the Middle East. As stated on the Aviano Air Base website, these F-16s are set to undertake a range of missions, including safeguarding civilian vessels in the Red Sea and Arabian Gulf as part of Operation Prosperity Guardian, alongside other crucial force protection and deterrence duties

Sources near the Saudi-led coalition-backed government in Aden revealed to MintPress News that the United States and Britain have ramped up their dialogue with the Ministry of Defense in the Aden administration. This surge comes in response to recent Yemeni activities in the Red Sea, the Gulf of Aden, and the Indian Ocean.

Military and political insiders in Sanaa informed MintPress News about the military exercise held on April 24. The event, dubbed “Desert Flag 9,” saw the participation of Saudi Arabia, Israel, and other Arab nations at the Al Dhafra base in the Emirates. This maneuver is believed to be part of preparations for the announcement of a new military coalition, ostensibly aimed at safeguarding international freedom of navigation in the Red Sea, Gulf of Aden, and Indian Ocean. At the outset of the exercise, General Charles Keough, Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, lauded the collaboration among allies in countering perceived Iranian threats.

Numerous officials in Sanaa and among Ansar Allah have issued public warnings about alleged plans orchestrated by the United States and Britain, with support from certain Arab nations. The Supreme Political Council, the highest governing body in the northern region, has cautioned against any hostile escalation by the United States in Yemen. It asserts that ongoing suspicious preparations aimed at dissuading Yemen from supporting Gaza will prove futile. Emphasizing that any consequences of such escalation will extend beyond Yemen’s borders, the Council has urged Saudi Arabia to prioritize its national interests over those of the United States.

It seems evident that Saudi and Emirati endeavors extend beyond merely challenging the naval blockade imposed by Ansar Allah on Israel, currently engaged in what many legal experts have termed a genocide in Gaza. Rather, indications suggest that these oil-rich nations may be poised to actively participate in an anticipated U.S. and U.K. military intervention. Their aim? To dismantle the blockade on Israel imposed by Yemeni forces and quell Ansar Allah’s assaults on Israeli vessels—actions purportedly intended to halt the ongoing genocide and alleviate the siege on civilians within the embattled enclave.

In addressing the Yemen-Saudi border situation, Muhammad Ali Al-Houthi, a member of the Supreme Political Council, raised poignant questions: “Why does Saudi Arabia deliberately target civilians on the Yemeni border with French Caesar’s cannons? Wouldn’t it be wiser for the Saudi army to position these cannons near the borders of the northern kingdom to aid the people of Gaza?” He cautioned against reckless actions, stating, “Do not play with fire. We possess a strategic arsenal far beyond what you anticipate.”

Hussein Al-Ezzi, serving as the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs in the Sana’a government, issued a stark warning:

We are well aware of Washington’s hostile intentions. Henceforth, we hold Washington accountable for any dire consequences resulting from its reckless actions against Yemen. It may soon find itself devoid of safe havens in the region, as its interests become a common target for all those who value freedom.”

Seeking to entangle itself anew in the Yemen conflict and forge closer ties with Israel, the United States has pledged support to Saudi Arabia. This includes assistance for a Saudi nuclear program and designating Saudi Arabia as a major non-NATO ally. Talks are ongoing to solidify a joint defense pact and enhance security cooperation, as reported by Saudi media.


Impending Assaults on Critical Assets

The peril isn’t just about the conflict’s escalation, but also the neighboring nations getting entangled in operations beyond their control. This risks sparking another tragic conflict, impacting not only war-torn Yemen but also neighboring countries like Saudi Arabia.

MintPress sources have confirmed that, in the case of a U.S.-led ground invasion of Yemen, planned assaults by Ansar Allah will target not only U.S. interests and bases within the involved nations but also critical facilities and assets belonging to those participating countries, such as oil installations.

Ansar Allah has issued a grave threat of launching a large-scale and aggressive assault aimed at crucial installations, including oil facilities, in Saudi Arabia and the UAE. This ominous warning mirrors previous attacks, such as the devastating strikes on the Abqaiq oil facilities in September 2019, which resulted in a significant disruption to half of Saudi Arabia’s oil production.

Ali al-Quhom, a Member of the Political Council of Ansar Allah, wrote on X, “The stage has changed, and with it, the rules of engagement have changed. Saudi Arabia and the UAE must realize this, and seven years are enough to learn the lesson. Yemen has become stronger with the increase in military capabilities at all levels. Escalation will be met with escalation, and this is a fixed and inseparable rule that will never change, ever. As you lost before, you will lose now, but this time your loss will be greater than before.” He added:

There should be no submission or surrender on the part of neighboring countries to American, British and Israeli pressure and will, indicating that any American move from the territories of neighboring countries will lead to strong Yemeni responses, these countries will be the target of Yemeni operations, We have a target bank that includes strategic and vital targets in depth and in areas of economic importance.”


Imminent Retaliation

Mounting tensions in Yemen and the broader region coincide with the withdrawal of an American aircraft carrier from the Red Sea. Yemeni analysts suggest that this move signifies not only the persistence of Yemeni operations targeting maritime navigation linked to the Israeli regime but also hints at a shift towards ground-based operations for a more extensive assault on Yemeni territory. Yemeni sources indicate that the departure of USS Dwight D. Eisenhower and USS Gravely from the Red Sea is part of the preparations for the coming assault.

General Shamsan, the head of the Military Spokesmen Committee in the Yemeni Army, informed MintPress that concurrent with the withdrawal of the American aircraft carrier, a squadron of aircraft has arrived at Saudi bases. This development aligns with diplomatic and political maneuvers. The Americans seem compelled to pivot towards attacks from land bases to mitigate potential heavy losses from retaliatory strikes against U.S. aircraft carriers and destroyers at sea.

While certain Yemenis perceive the withdrawal of the American aircraft carrier from the Red Sea as a triumph, numerous political, military officials, and analysts interviewed by MintPress regard Washington’s move with deep suspicion, framing it within the context of ongoing operational preparations, as emphasized by Brigadier General Shamsan.

Last Friday, the U.S. Navy declared that USS Dwight D. Eisenhower and USS Gravely departed from the Red Sea after an almost four-month presence. Despite their deployment, the U.S. battle group was unable to impede Yemeni operations targeting maritime navigation associated with the Israeli regime, as these operations persisted.

Additionally, there’s a possibility, as indicated by a Yemeni source linked to the coordination between Yemeni and Iraqi resistance forces, that certain groups within the Resistance Axis, notably the Iraqi resistance, may engage in retaliatory strikes against key American and Saudi targets in the region. This prospect hints at potential conflict not only in the Red Sea but also in the Strait of Hormuz and the Arabian Gulf, posing a genuine threat to American interests. However, such escalation could potentially be averted or delayed, especially considering the Russian front and the upcoming U.S. presidential elections.


Mounting Tension and Military Preparations

On the ground, clear signs of an impending conflict are emerging, particularly in the conflict zones of Taiz and Lahj, alongside other fronts. This coincides with significant military reinforcements being deployed by factions aligned with the Saudi-Emirati coalition from Aden to the strategic Tur al-Baha and Haifan fronts. These areas serve as vital contact points between Sanaa-aligned forces and coalition-backed militias. Tragically, in the Maqbanah area southwest of Taiz, an attack allegedly conducted by a drone affiliated with these factions resulted in the loss of two children and three women.

According to Yemeni military media, an American MQ9 drone was brought down above Saada Governorate while conducting a military operation. Footage released last Friday depicted Yemeni Armed Forces successfully shooting down the US MQ-9 aircraft using a missile.

In the days, military tensions between Yemeni forces and the American and British navies have surged to unprecedented levels. Reports indicate violent explosions along the coasts of Al-Khawkhah and Al-Mokha, spanning from Khor Amira, facing Bab Al-Mandab, to the southern shores of the country

Yemenis harbor a pervasive belief in the imminent likelihood of a ground invasion, a notion taken with utmost seriousness across the nation. Numerous officials, in interviews with MintPress, have openly discussed the potentiality of such an occurrence, grounded not in analysis but in raw data. Consequently, all regions, cities, and institutions have experienced a surge in recruitment efforts, operating under the banner of “Al-Aqsa Flood.”


Yemen’s Resolve Amid Escalating Tensions

While Yemenis are earnestly grappling with the looming prospect of escalation, their resolve extends beyond merely halting attacks aimed at ending the conflict in Gaza and lifting the blockade. They’ve heralded an unprecedented development targeting Israeli vessels across the Indian Ocean, the Gulf of Aden, and Bab al-Mandab. On Tuesday, the Yemeni Armed Forces (YAF) launched strikes against two United States warships in the Red Sea and targeted the Cyclades bulk carrier, achieving precise hits. Subsequently, military media footage surfaced, showcasing the moment of the Cyclades ship’s bombing in the Indian Ocean, underscoring the Yemeni army’s capacity to execute operations hundreds of kilometers from the Yemeni coastline.

In a televised address to the nation last Thursday discussing the latest regional developments, Ansar Allah leader Abdul-Malik al-Houthi stated that the Yemeni army is enhancing its presence in the Indian Ocean, aiming to block Israeli-affiliated vessels from navigating the Cape of Good Hope route or towards the Red Sea. He further remarked, “The Yemeni front will remain open, and the Yemeni Armed Forces’ (YAF) operations in support of Palestine will continue.”

Since Abdul-Malik al-Houthi’s speech, four Israeli, American, and British vessels have been hit. The Yemeni Navy struck the British ship ANDROMEDA STAR and the Israeli MSC Darwin ship on Saturday, along with an American warship and another commercial vessel named MAERSK YORKTOWN, and the Israeli MSC VERACRUZ on April 24. Preceding these events, the Yemeni army conducted four operations targeting two Israeli ships and two American ships on April 10.

Following Abdulmalik al-Houthi’s speech, four vessels affiliated with Israel, the United States and Britain were targeted by Ansar Allah. The Yemeni navy attacked the British vessel Andromeda Star and the Israeli MSC Darwinship on Saturday, as well as an American warship and a commercial vessel named Maersk Yorktown, and the Israeli MSC Veracruz on April 24. Prior to these incidents, the Yemeni army executed four operations against two Israeli ships and two American ships on April 10.

It’s worth noting that Ansar Allah has turned down several American offers aimed at halting their maritime attacks in support of Gaza. These offers included recognition of their group, revocation of their terrorist designation, payment of government employee salaries, and the signing of a comprehensive agreement with Saudi Arabia to end the war and initiate Yemen’s reconstruction.

Barbara Leaf, Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs, said in a press briefing that there are ongoing communications with Ansar Allah, urging the movement to engage in the Yemeni political process. However, she clarified that she wouldn’t characterize the discussions with strong language at this point. Leaf emphasized that “Washington is employing all available means, both diplomatically and militarily, to deter the Houthis from their actions,” which she described as “reckless” in the Red Sea.

Feature photo | Yemenis attend a massive rally against US-led airstrikes on Yemen and the Israeli offensive in the Gaza Strip in Sanaa, Yemen, March 1, 2024. Osamah Abdulrahman | AP

Ahmed AbdulKareem is a Yemeni journalist based in Sana’a. He covers the war in Yemen for MintPress News as well as local Yemeni media.