Input your search keywords and press Enter.

YEMEN COALITION FORCES LAUNCH OFFENSIVE ON HODEIDAH

Bloomberg reported on June 12 that Yemeni forces and their Saudi-led allies had launched an offensive to retake the Red Sea port of Hodeidah, the entry point for 70 percent of Yemen’s imports and humanitarian aid. In a statement, the government of Yemen said it had exhausted all possible peaceful means to dislodge Iran-backed Houthi rebels from the port city. Prior to the
offensive,the coalition had intensified its aerial attacks and artillery strikes on Houthi positions across Hodeidah province and international aid workers were reported to be pulling out. “Taking the port and the city could shut off supplies to major Houthi rebel groups and lead to a drive to the negotiating table,” commented Paul Sullivan, a Middle East analyst at the National Defense University in Washington. “However, urban warfare in a city this size could prove to be costly and a lot longer than some may try to predict.” Bloomberg said the Yemen government and its Gulf allies will likely claim a turning point in the conflict if they defeat the rebels. Yet a loss or drawnout clashes with experienced street fighters that exacts a high civilian toll will deal another blow to  their efforts. The offensive went ahead despite efforts by United Nations envoy, Martin Griffiths, to try to head off a clash. In a statement, Griffiths urged both sides to exercise restraint and engage with political efforts to spare Hodeidah a military confrontation. According to the UN,three-quarters of the country’s 28 million people need aid to stave off hunger and disease and half of those
require it urgently to survive. Of an estimated 1.8 million children under age 5 who are acutely malnourished, 400,000 are so severely underfed they are at 10 times the normal risk of dying. Anwar Gargash, Yemen’s minister of state for foreign affairs,has said that should the Houthis attempt to further damage and destroy any port or logistics infrastructure, there are contingency plans in place to move aid by other methods and that food and essential supplies have been stockpiled. The Houthis have been reported to be extracting payments on goods that are trucked through the areas they control, forcing up food costs. Meanwhile, Reuters reported an announcement by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates of a five-point aid plan for Hodeidah and  surrounding areas. As part of the plan, the two coalition states aim to establish a shipping lane to the port from the UAE capital, Abu Dhabi, and Jizan, a city in southern Saudi Arabia, officials told a news conference in Riyadh. They will also distribute food, provide medical supplies, equipment and staff to hospitals, sustain electrical stations and provide economic support “We have several
ships stationed, and we have storage capacity very close to Hodeidah fully stocked up,” Reem al-Hashimy, the U.A.E.’s minister of state for international cooperation, told Reuters in Riyadh. “We  have as well planes that are out of the UAE that are ready to be flown in once the situation allows for that,” she said. Speaking on Saudi state-owned al-Ekhbariyah TV, coalition spokesman Colonel Turki al-Malki said two aid ships provided by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates were waiting in waters near the port. The plan will be carried out by Saudi Arabia’s King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center and the U.A.E. Red Crescent. Saudi Arabia and its allies intervened in Yemen in March 2015 after the Houthis took control of the capital Sana’a and
other cities, forcing President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi into exile in Riyadh. While the alliance has been able to recover areas in southern Yemen from the rebels, the Houthis still control Sana’a and territories in the north, and frequently fire ballistic missiles into Saudi Arabia. Peter Salisbury, a senior fellow at Chatham House’s Middle East & North Africa Program said: “I can’t
see the coalition losing the battle, but if they suffer heavy losses and struggle to take the city and the battle leads to high civilian casualties, it’ll really undermine their standing given that they have repeatedly said this can be done quickly and cleanly” If the coalition retakes Hodeidah,