by WorldTribune Staff, April 25, 2018
The political leader and second in command of the Iran-backed Houthi rebels was killed in a Saudi-led coalition airstrike in Yemen, the Houthi-run Saba news agency confirmed on April 23.
Saleh Al-Sammad, head of the Houthis’ so-called Supreme Political Council, was killed in the eastern province of Hodeida on April 19, the news agency reported.
“This is a very significant development – one that will change the course of the war in Yemen,” said Dr. Hamdan Al-Shehri, a Riyadh-based Saudi political analyst. “This was their No. 2 man.”
Al-Sammad was second in command to Houthi leader Abdel Malek Al-Houthi. A $20 million reward had been offered for any information leading to Al-Sammad’s capture.
Al-Houthi appeared on TV to announce the killing of Al-Sammad soon after media outlets started reporting on it.
Al-Shehri added that the Houthi leader had “looked weak” during his TV appearance.
“It is over for them (the Houthis),” said Al-Shehri. “They thought they would get away by firing those missiles at Saudi Arabia.”
Earlier this month, Al-Sammad had described 2018 as “the year of ballistic excellence,” referring to missiles the militias fired across the border, according to a report by Arab News.
Since November, the Houthis have launched several ballistic missiles at Saudi Arabia that were intercepted by the kingdom’s anti-aircraft defenses.
Yemeni journalist Baligh Al-Mekhlafi said the delay in the announcement of Al-Sammad’s death reflects the magnitude of the loss to the Houthis.
“The Houthis opted to wait until they rearranged their ranks and found a replacement. We have confirmed reports that Mahdi Al-Shammat is succeeding Al-Sammad.”
Al-Mekhlafi added that the Houthis were intent on having another tribal member replace Al-Sammad to secure the support of Yemeni tribes which, he said, has been declining recently due to huge losses incurred by the Houthi militias.