Military map in the provinces of southern and eastern Yemen. Who controls on the ground?

Military map in the provinces of southern and eastern Yemen. Who controls on the ground?

Since the outbreak of armed clashes in the interim capital Aden in mid-August, a new military reality has been formed on the ground, in which the armed formations of the transitional council demanding secession, backed by the UAE, have been able to take control of the interim capital Aden and the provinces of Lahj and Al-Dhalea. Abyan headed towards Shabwa, before aborting their movement and government forces recaptured large areas of the areas they lost in Shabwa and Abyan to the al-Alam point east of Aden, before UAE fighter jets intervened and targeted government forces to stop their advance.

Recently, it seems that the scene is preparing for a settlement of some sort that will reshape the drawing of the military map, with the transfer of Aden and its surrounding to Saudi Arabia from UAE hands. "Al-Masdar Online" provides the followers with a map of military control in the provinces of southern and eastern Yemen until October 14, and its stability or change depends on the accuracy of the information about the departure of UAE forces from Aden and the delivery of sensitive sites to Saudi forces instead of them starting with the airport and port of Aden which are most vital

First: STC and UAE control areas


Since August 10, the interim capital, Aden, in the south of the country, has been fully under the control of armed formations of the UAE-backed Southern Transitional Council (STC) after five days of fierce fighting with government forces, leaving more than 15 soldiers dead, three of them are civilians.

Currently, the armed formations are distributed among the city's directorates, and the security belt forces of the Transitional Council are also stationed in the buildings of the 3rd and 1st Brigades, presidential protection in Khormaksar, Critter and Ma’ashiq Palace in the same city, and at Badr military base, which previously included three brigades. The government army also took control of the Transport Brigade camp in Dar Saad, north of the city.

Lahj and Al-Dhale’a

The two provinces are fully under the control of the STC formations and these forces are deployed in former army and security camps and are fully in control of the two cities.

Although the Al-Anad military base is home to the 131 armored brigades and the 201st Brigade, they lack weapons, training and personnel, and their commanders have not shown a clear position on the conflict between the STC formations and government forces last August.


Socotra island is witnessing the presence of UAE forces at the island airport and a number of positions that Abu Dhabi controlled two years ago in parallel with the light presence of Saudi forces arrived the island about two years ago during the dispute between the UAE and the Yemeni government, which accused Abu Dhabi of taking control of the island and bypassing the powers of the Yemeni government.

Not long ago, the UAE trained groups from the "security belt" in Aden and sent them to the island for deployment to a number of locations, security posts and checkpoints in the archipelago.

The Yemeni government has a naval brigade on the island, but so far it has been far from renewed differences between the government on the one hand and the UAE on the other.

Second: control-sharing areas


The armed formations of the "Transitional" control the city of Zanzibar, the capital of Abyan province, and the city of Ja’ar, the center of Khanfar district, the largest city in Abyan province, as well as the mountainous areas of Khanfar, as well as directorates of Rasd Sarrar and Sabah, which follow the areas of Yeaf’a.

These formations have been in control of these areas since August 29th following the UAE air strike on a government army force at Al-Alam point, 12 kilometers east of Aden.

On the other side, to the east, government forces control the coastal town of Shaqra and the site of the "Qarn Kalasi ", the last point of government forces on the road leading to the City of Zanzibar and separates the " Qarn Kalasi " and "Wadi Hassan" point, the first point of government forces about 20 kilometers from the entrance of the city of Zanzibar.

In addition to the city of Shaqra, government forces control the Orqoob mountain range near Shaqra towards the road leading to the central region to the coastal road that passes through the districts of Al-Muhafad and Ahwar, located southeast of Abyan and is located in the Directorate of Ahwar(111) Brigade, one of the brigades of the the legitimate government, but it is a brigade that lacks armaments and training.

The central district directorates are also under the control of government forces, and two military brigades are located in Lawdar and Mudia districts, and the first is the 115th Infantry Brigade, while the 5th Infantry Brigade is stationed in the Mudia district.

But the same two directorates have two forces of the security belt that secure the two cities from the inside, but their presence has no influence in changing the current military situation, and it has a small number of soldiers and does not have sufficient support and armaments in addition to its lack of organization and cohesion after the loss of Forces in Shabwa, as well as the defection of a number of commanders and soldiers of the security belt in the central region.

Special forces led by Lt. Col. Mohammed al-Awban are stationed at the Security Belt Forces camp in the Akd area of Lawdar district, northeast of Abyan.


In Mukalla, the capital of Hadramout province, the country's largest province, Emirati units are stationed at al-Rayyan International Airport in the city, as well as a similar presence at the port of Mukalla, while Maj. Gen. Faraj al-Bahasani, the governor of the province, leads the second military zone, and is one of Abu Dhabi's allies in the south.

Mukalla, the capital of Hadramout and the center of the Hadhramaut coast directorates, is under the control of the forces of the Second Military Region, which maintains a good relationship with the UAE, in addition to the fact that the army elite forces are widely deployed in the city and take on large security tasks in Mukalla and this indicates a strong presence and influence of UAE and its allies in exchange for a decline in the presence of the legitimate government.

Although Hadhramaut Governor General Faraj al-Bahasani was appointed by a republican decision of President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi and has a good relationship with him, in fact Abu Dhabi's influence in Mukalla exceeds the influence of both the government and Al- Bahasani, as the two most important facilities in the city (the airport and the port) are still under UAE control. So far, it has refused to operate them for the government and hand them over to them.

But in the cities of Wadi Hadhramaut, government forces are in full control of Sieyun, the capital of the valley and the desert, while the first pro-government military region forces are deployed in the districts of Sieyun, Ramah, Thamud and other cities.

In The Directorate of Sieyun is stationed the command of the first military region and its brigade led by Major General Saleh Tumais Al-Kazmi, while in the Directorate of Ramah there is the 11th Brigade border guards led by Brigadier Faraj al-Atiqi, while the 315th Brigade is stationed in Themaud District led by Brigadier General Ahmed Ali Hadi, and 23rd General Mika in Al’abr.

A military source told Al-Masdar Online that the forces of the first military region still retain all their military formations, personnel, organization and equipment, as they have not fought in the last five years as a result of their distance from conflict zones.

According to the geographical area, government forces control the larger area of the military areas  than security forces loyal to the UAE in the cities of the Sahel, and the Hadhramaut Valley is the largest area of the oil province in addition to the importance that this region represents to Saudi Arabia as it is located on the border with it extending for tens of kilometers.


Yemeni government and Saudi forces share control in al-Mahra province, which borders Oman in the east of the country, in parallel with the presence of Saudi-funded military police forces stationed at Al-Ghaidha airport and other locations in the city.

The 27th Brigade of the Government Forces is stationed in Al-Mahra governorate along with simple units of the Al-Mahra axis, in addition to the presence of the army's 123rd Infantry Brigade forces in Hat district, and in return the military police forces are present and they have a camp in Al- Ghaidha and other locations at the city's airport and in the Radio building.

A military source reported that Saudi forces are present in various locations of the directorates of the province of Al-Mahra, in the city of Al-Ghaidha there is a Saudi force at the city airport and another camp in an area called "Lusic", which is located on the outskirts of the city, in addition to the stationing of another force in the port of Nashtoon border with Oman, in addition to different locations in the directorates of "Al-Masilah, Shehn and Hasween"."

Riyadh rarely passes through activists and journalists the possibility of smuggling across the Omani coast and tries to link it to its presence in Al-Mahra province, but local activists opposed to the Saudi presence in the province say Riyadh is more present to secure the extension of the oil pipeline, which is planned to pass through the areas of Al-Mahra.

The city is experiencing a lack of Emirati presence in the city, but Abu Dhabi has previously sought to attract the leaders of the local community in order to establish forces similar to the security belt in Al-Mahra, but tribesmen and community leaders demonstrated and declared their rejection of the UAE's direction and endeavors in the city.

Third: Areas of government control


When fighting broke out between government forces and armed formations of the Southern Transitional Council (STC) in the internationally recognized city of Aden, the southeastern province of Shabwa was still heavily under the influence of the Emirati-backed Shabwani elite forces.

However, the expansion of the conflict in the south of the country towards the oil province reconstituted the map of control and influence for both sides, as the advance of the armed formations of the transitional to try to control Shabwa (the third largest province in the country) led to a reversal; the Government fully controlled the city of Ataq, the capital of the province and other cities.

The Battle of Shabwa changed the equation in the south.

Abu Dhabi pushed its allies to prove their military presence in the provinces of southern Yemen in a proactive step to reduce its forces, and the control of the provinces of Aden and Abyan led to his rush to advance towards Shabwa province in order to fully consolidate his control and remove the forces of the legitimate government to gain strengths its position at the table by any supposed consultations with the internationally recognized government, the imposition of a fait accompli policy, the legalization of military steps in Aden and Abyan, and the progress of steps to control the Hadhramaut Valley and Desert, with the aim of promoting the project of secession of the south as a fait accompli.

Abu Dhabi's Target bank was to present the Council as a political force in the south and to give it the portfolios of the Ministries of Interior and Transport to ensure that it maintains control over the security file in the south first and to enable it to control the powers in the ports of Aden and Mukalla, which is in the interest of the UAE strategy to ensure its gains after leaving Aden through the STC.

But progress towards Shabwa has cost the Council and Abu Dhabi a great disservice to government forces in exploiting military movements politically, militarily and popularly.

Abu Dhabi and its allies seemed confident that the battle in Shabwa would be resolved for a number of reasons, including the remarkable presence of its forces and their deployment in a number of provincial directorates in exchange for the weak presence of government forces, as well as the heavy Emirati support that they believed would outweigh the reward, as well as the presence of Emirati troops at Balhaf facility.

But in fact, the STC lost a battle of Shabwa to government forces for several reasons, led by what appears to be a Saudi-Emirati consensus to stop the transition outside Shabwa, a common Gulf vision to begin dismantling the crisis and form zones of control for both sides to complete a political deal that brings them together in a government formation. A number of southern powers are joined in the government that is supposed to be formed after the conflict is stopped.

Moreover, STC ignored or did not read the geographical situation in Shabwa, where the geographical areas are sprawling, where he does not have an influential presence and his forces do not have the military effectiveness to resolve battles within large cities other than the situation in Aden, in addition to neglecting the transitional border factor of Bayhan district in Shabwa and Marib province, where the government has large military bases and forces.

Now that the Southern Transitional Council forces have left the provincial capital of Ataq, government forces are in full control of the province, but there are two oil sites in Balhaf and Al-Nashima where Emirati and Saudi forces and Shabwaniya elite forces remain.

The 21st Mechanized Brigade, 30-mica, Ataq Axis and special security forces are present in the capital city of Ataq, while the 2nd Mount Infantry Brigade is stationed in Azzan district and the 2nd Brigade is a marine infantry battalion at the Balhaf oil facility of Radhum district.

In Bayhan district, the 19th Infantry Brigade, which follows the Bayhan axis, is stationed, while an Emirati force of about 35 personnel is stationed between an officer and soldiers at the Balhaf LNG facility, along with limited Saudi and Sudanese forces participating in monitoring tasks, while units of the Shabwani Elite are stationed in al-Nashimah reservoirs.  So far, these units have intervened with coalition forces to keep them in position and are almost the only force of the Shabwani elite that still maintains their positions after their defeat to government forces last August.

Now, if the conflict between the internationally recognized government forces on the one hand and the transitional factions and armed formations has redrawn the map of control in the south of the country, it is important to remember that this map is not so clear as there are still areas of overlapping influence and powers.


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