Saudi Arabia, UAE Still Battling Iran for Bab al-Mandeb Strait

A life-and-death struggle is taking place for control of the Red Sea coast of southwestern Yemen which controls the Bab-el-Bandeb Strait, through which around 3.8 million barrels of Middle East crude passes day by day on its way to overseas markets.
The coalition of Saudi and United Arab Emirates special forces as well as Colombian mercenaries, is fighting hard to prevent the Iranian-backed Houthi rebels from controlling this piece of coast, because they could then choke off passage through the vital straits as a form of blackmail.
Saudi security sources claimed this week that their coalition had pushed “the last remaining rebels out of the region of Dhubab” on the relevant piece of Red Sea coast, and were advancing on the major port of Mokha.
According to DEBKA Weekly’s military sources, the coalition has in fact gained control of the six large and small towns dotting the 300km of the eastern coast between Mokha and the southern port of Aden that commands the Bab al-Mandeb Straits.
These forces don’t hold every piece of terrain between those towns, but their troops were able to demolish the Iranian artillery and anti-ship missile positions, that were put there to menace shipping.
However, Monday, Jan. 17, Yemeni rebels under the command of Iranian Revolutionary Guards officers, embarked on a surprise offensive on coalition forces, which had reached a point in Taiz province near the strategic waterway. They inflicted heavy casualties, estimated at 40 Saudi-backed fighters, including their commander, Heisam Qassem Taher, as well seizing equipment.

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