Much discussion on Yemen is framed in terms of counter-terrorism or debating the morality about the overall nature of the intervention of the Arab coalition states in the country. Though these topics are important, the discussion should also be informed by objective information on neglected topics. For example, what is the nature of the various Yemeni forces fighting the Houthis? Such a question is important because it is too easy to frame everything in Yemen simply in terms of proxy warfare between foreign powers and obscure local dynamics.
Kata'ib al-Hamdi (The Hamdi Battalions) is an example of a Yemeni force fighting the Houthis. It is part of the al-Amaliqa grouping of brigades and has participated in the fighting against the Houthis along Yemen's western coast. The al-Amaliqa grouping of brigades has received strong backing from the United Arab Emirates, whose forces have participated alongside it in the battles along the western coast. Kata'ib al-Hamdi is led by one 'Brigadier General' Hamdi Shukri and frames itself as originating in the 'al-Sabihah resistance' against the Houthis. At the same time, the group also operates as an affiliate of the 7th infantry brigade within the armed forces of Yemen's internationally recognized government.
An emblem of Kata'ib al-Hamdi, depicting the group as the second brigade of the al-Amaliqa forces.
For a brief overview of Kata'ib al-Hamdi's activities, I interviewed the group's media guy Abu al-Khattab al-Yusufi. This interview was conducted on 11 July 2019. Any parenthetical insertions in square brackets are my own.
Q: When was Kata'ib al-Hamdi formed?
A: February 2017.
Q: In which area was it formed?
A: The west coast/al-Mocha-al-Hodeida.
Q: In which battles has it participated?
A: It has participated in the liberation of Mocha, Yakhtul, Jabal al-Nar, the Khalid bin al-Waleed camp, al-Durayhimi.
Q: And how many martyrs has the Kata'ib offered?
A: More than 200 martyrs.
Q: And currently the Kata'ib is affiliated with the 7th brigade within the Yemeni army?
Q: Has Saudi Arabia helped you in matters of arming, financing, and training?
A: The coalition states led by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates [have helped us].
Q: In which areas does the Kata'ib operate currently?
A: On the west coast front and the al-Sabihah front- Shu'ab Airim al-Qabita, and its rear position is in the iron factory were the leader's office is present.