The last two months of 2017 witnessed a severe escalation to the conflict in Yemen, irreversibly altering the power-sharing alliance between the Houthis and the Sana’a-based General People’s Congress, and further delaying progress to the UN-sponsored peace process. The escalation began when a ballistic missile was targeted at Riyadh on November 4, after which the coalition placed a bounty on 40 senior Houthis and imposed a full nationwide blockade on all sea, air, and land ports. Fighting in the capital between Saleh loyalists and the Houthis lasted from November 29 to December 4, when Saleh and the general secretary of his party, Aref Al-Zouka, were killed.
Following Saleh’s death, efforts have been made by anti-Houthi forces to unify their efforts on the frontline, with the Hadi government seeking to absorb Saleh’s GPC members and Saudi Arabia hosting a meeting between the Islah Party and the UAE. However, despite the territorial gains made against the Houthis in Shabwa, Hodeidah, and Al-Jawf governorates in December, it remained too early to tell whether any of the rifts between groups nominally aligned against the Houthis have narrowed.