On 26 March 2015, more than 100 warplanes started bombing Houthi positions across Yemen under operation “Decisive Storm.” Saudi Arabia took the lead in a broad regional coalition engaging in the airstrikes, and in a presage to the current maritime crisis, Egypt sent warships to the Bab al-Mandeb to secure the vital waterway (MEES, 27 March 2015).

The ultimate goal for Saudi Arabia was to prevent the armed Houthi movement becoming a threat on its southern border. By that time the group had already thwarted Yemen’s National Dialogue Conference transitional peace talks and captured the capital Sanaa (MEES, 19 December 2014). But now, nine years later, the battle-hardened Houthis are stronger than ever, having consolidated their positions in Yemen and secured more Iranian backing. (CONTINUED - 1399 WORDS)