Following the fall of Sana’a to the Houthis, President Hadi relocated to Aden, the southern port city of Yemen and the center of the Southern Mobility Movement. Deciding that, since part of the agreement with the Houthis that led to Hadi’s abdication as president (followed by his entire cabinet) had been violated, the entire agreement was void. Hadi relocated to Aden and declared that he was still the president of Yemen.

There had been a great deal of speculation that former Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh was involved with the Houthi uprising. As Hadi established himself in the south, Saleh openly declared that he was going to “drive Hadi into the Red Sea.”

In early March, Hadi attempted to dismiss Brigadier General Abdul-Hafez al-Saqqaf, a commander of the Yemeni Army Special Forces. Al-Saqqaf was known to be, or at least Hadi suspected him of being, still loyal to Saleh. Clashes had occurred between al-Saqqaf’s special forces and militias loyal to Hadi, but on March 19, matters began to come to a head.

In the early morning of March 19, al-Saqqaf’s SSF attacked the Yemen airport. Passengers who had already boarded their flights had to retreat to the terminal to avoid gunfire. The pro-Hadi militias deployed tanks and APCs into the streets of Aden, driving al-Saqqaf’s forces out of the airport after a four-hour firefight that saw three of al-Saqqaf’s men killed, and two of the militia.

That afternoon, an airstrike reportedly launched from Sana’a attempted to bomb Hadi’s palace in Aden. The bombs missed, striking the nearby mountain, while anti-aircraft fire attempted to hit the plane.

The next day, March 20, two suicide bombings occurred in Sana’a, striking Shi’a mosques right at prayer time (Friday is the Muslim holy day, just as Saturday is for Jews and Sunday for Christians, so the mosques would have been full). A total of 137 people were killed, and ISIS, or, more likely, the branch of AQAP that has pledged allegiance to the Islamic State in Iraq and al-Sham, has claimed responsibility.

On March 21, ostensibly following an AQAP strike on the town of Houta, the remaining U.S. SOF forces were pulled out of Al Anad Airbase, leaving no U.S. personnel in Yemen to partner with what is left of the Yemeni government in order to fight AQAP. And what is left has been shrinking rapidly. On March 26, President Hadi, who had gone into hiding but had not left the country after the attempted bombing of his palace, fled Yemen to Riyadh. The Saudis have long backed Hadi, and immediately took steps to keep the Shi’a Houthis from taking control of the country.

At midnight, March 26, Saudi warplanes began bombing suspected Houthi positions across the north of Yemen, to include Sana’a International Airport, the Dulaimi military base, and the same Al Anad airbase that had hosted U.S. SOF and had reportedly been taken by the Houthis the day before. As many as 85 aircraft were reported to have been involved, including birds from the UAE, Qatar, Kuwait, Bahrain, Jordan, Morocco, and Sudan.