“For at least the last year, the Saudis have been trying to persuade Saleh to abandon the Houthis and flip sides. In October, the Saudi media reported that the Saudi coalition had allowed a Russian medical team to travel to Sanaa to perform a life-saving operation on Saleh, presumably linked to wounds suffered in the previous assassination attempt. It was a very open signal of Saudi interest for Saleh to jump ship. The Houthis certainly noticed and intensified their long-standing efforts to weaken support for the ex-president in the capital and the rest of northern Yemen.
Last week Saleh made his move and denounced the Houthis as Iranian agents, offered to turn “a new page” with the Saudi coalition and portrayed himself as the defender of Arabism. Bloody street battles rocked Sanaa. But Saleh had no support elsewhere in northern Yemen and the Houthis quickly gained the upper hand in the capital. Saleh died Dec. 4 apparently trying to escape from the city.
Aside from a few bombing missions by the Royal Saudi Air Force, the coalition did nothing to assist Saleh’s loyalists. Hadi announced that the pro-Saudi forces he has nominal control over would advance on Sanaa only after Saleh was dead. They have yet to even try.”