What’s new? After consolidating their hold upon al-Bayda, a strategically located governorate in central Yemen, the Huthi rebels are making a multi-front push into government-controlled territory to isolate, eliminate or co-opt tribal and other rivals. Their immediate objective is Marib, whose capture they hope will mark a turning point in the war.
Why does it matter? After al-Bayda, a Huthi victory in Marib seems more likely. It could deal a fatal blow to the Yemeni government and throw UN mediation efforts into further disarray. Nevertheless, Marib’s fall would far more likely shift the conflict into a new and potentially bloodier phase than end it.
What should be done? The new UN special envoy should travel to Sanaa and Marib as soon as possible to launch intensive intra-Yemeni and regional diplomacy and, with support from the Security Council’s permanent members, engage with any and all proposals to prevent a destructive battle for Marib.