A complex mix of alliances is unified by the goal of restoring the Hadi government. Marib province, on the edge of the desert east of Yemen’s capital, might not seem to be the inevitable route to drive the Houthi-led rebels from Sanaa. But it is essential to the goal of the coalition of Gulf States and Yemeni forces loyal to president Abdrabu Mansur Hadi to restore the internationally recognised government.
Marib is strategically important. A predominantly Sunni region, it has successfully repelled the rebels’ attempts to take control of the oil- and gas-rich province. By the estimate of two of the tribal leaders in Marib, there is an 8,000-strong force of Yemeni fighters and tribal militia members.