Published: Wed, June 13, 2018
People | By Neil Grant

Saudi-led coalition launches attack on Yemen’s ‘humanitarian lifeline’ of Hodeidah

Saudi-led coalition launches attack on Yemen’s ‘humanitarian lifeline’ of Hodeidah

Troops backed by a Saudi-led coalition on Wednesday launched an assault on Yemen's main port city of Hodeidah, in the biggest battle of a three-year war between an alliance of Arab states and the Houthis.

"We condemn to the fullest extent the launch of an attack by the Saudi and Emirati-led coalition on Yemen's port city of Hodeida".

The UAE foreign ministry and government communication office did not immediately respond to Reuters requests for comment.

Local military sources said hundreds of Yemeni fighters as well as tanks and military supplies from the UAE arrived on Monday to reinforce troops, including Emiratis and Sudanese, in al-Durayhmi, a rural area 10 km (6.21 miles) south of Hodeidah. The Saudi-led coalition entered the war in March 2015 and has received logistical support from the US.

For a little more than three years, Yemen has been locked in a seemingly intractable civil war that has killed almost 10,000 people and pushed millions to the brink of starvation.

The US also helps the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen with "limited intelligence sharing", aerial refueling for coalition jets, and training to make coalition airstrikes more precise, Major Rankine-Galloway, a Pentagon spokesperson, previously told Business Insider.

In fact, the Trump Administration has become an increasingly vocal backer of the coalition, sharing its concerns about Iranian support for the Houthis, and in deference to close military partners like the United Arab Emirates.

The UN says some 600,000 people live in and around Hudaida, and "as many as 250,000 people may lose everything - even their lives" in the assault. Some 8.4 million people in Yemen face pre-famine conditions, according to the World Health Organisation.

Both the United Nations and International Committee of the Red Cross has called on all sides in Yemen's war to protect civilians following the latest air and ground assault.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres had said that UN envoy Martin Griffiths was in "intense negotiations" in an attempt to avoid a military confrontation.

The U.N.'s humanitarian coordinator for Yemen, Lise Grande, warned that a prolonged siege of the port could lead to the deaths of up to a quarter-million Yemenis due to starvation and disease.

ICRC spokeswoman Marie-Claire Feghali said the assault was "likely to exacerbate an already catastrophic humanitarian situation in Yemen", where water and electricity networks are vital to the civilian population's survival.

The UAE has said coalition forces plan to keep the port operational but warned that the Houthis could sabotage infrastructure and place land and sea mines as they withdraw.

On Tuesday, a bipartisan group of senators including leaders of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) and Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), wrote to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Defense Secretary Jim Mattis to express their "grave alarm" about circumstances in Hodeida.

The alliance intervened in Yemen to restore the government of President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, who was driven from the capital Sanaa and into exile in 2014.

The Houthis, with roots in a Zaidi Shi'ite minority that ruled a thousand-year kingdom in Yemen until 1962, deny they are pawns of Iran.

The US position on Hodeidah continues to shift wildly, however.

The Houthi militia has repeatedly fired missiles at Saudi Arabia, which the United States and UN experts say are of Iranian origin, a claim Tehran denies. The accusations are denied by the group and Iran.

Like this: