By Middle East Affairs
Troops supported by Saudi Arabia began their attack on Yemen’s main port city of Hodeidah against Houthi militias funded by Iran in the biggest battle since the war in Yemen began three years ago.
Yemen’s forces launched an all-out campaign against the Houthis on Wednesday with warplanes, warships assisting the army on the ground with a full force attack.
The United Arab Emirates had given the Houthi a deadline as to when they could evacuate peacefully by, but since the deadline passed and they remained in place, Yemen’s government led forces began their “Golden Victory” operation.
Houthi militias control the capital of Sanaa, which the U.A.E wanted them to relinquish control of. Hodeidah port is the only lifeline for many Yemenis who await aid coming from abroad to its waters. The international community warned about the dangers of fighting escalating near the port and wanted reassurance that oncoming aid would be safe, so humanitarian staff could continue assisting Yemenis who desperately need the help.
Writing on Twitter Mohammed Ali Al-Houthi, the Houthi leader warned Yemen’s army not to attack and threatening to attack oil tankers along the Red Sea shipping port in Hodeidah if they do.
Al Masirah TV which is controlled by the Houthi reported that a Western-allied coalition barge had been struck by two missiles, the coalition has not confirmed the attack.
The United Nations had days earlier tried to negotiate a peaceful withdrawal of Houthi forces from the area so as to avoid further deterioration of Yemeni civilians who need medicine, food, and fuel arriving at the port for their survival.
Yemen, since the war began three years ago, is the host of the world’s worst humanitarian disaster, millions are starving, malnourished, diseased, and face deadly attacks from fighting forces.
Near Hodeidah port, it is estimated that 600,000 civilians reside in that area and with the battle between Yemen’s army and Houthi forces quickly exploding, 250,000 Yemeni could become casualties, with thousands more suffering if the port is blockade and supplies cut.
The Western-backed coalition is the first time that Arab nations have joined the side supporting Yemen’s army since the war began. The coalition is seeking to corner the Houthis in Sanaa so their supply line would be cut and they would be forced to negotiate and meet international demands.
The exiled government of President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi was overtaken by the Houthi, who Western allies such as Saudi see as Iran’s work to expand their influence across the region.
In a report on Yemeni state-run media, the government wrote “The liberation of Hodeidah port is a turning point in our struggle to recapture Yemen from the militias that hijacked it to serve foreign agendas.”
It also said, “The liberation of the port is the start of the fall of the Houthi militia and will secure marine shipping in Bab al-Mandab strait and cut off the hands of Iran, which has long drowned Yemen in weapons that shed precious Yemeni blood.”
The Houthi have rejected that they are being manipulated by Iran and say that they are protecting Yemen from invadors.
The U.A.E has announced that they plan on keeping the port operation but warned that the Houthi may very well, seek to jeopardize it and cover the land and sea with explosive mines.
Yemen is a strategic passage for oil tankers travelling from the Middle East to Europe.
The UAE minister of state for international cooperation Reem al-Hashimy said that the coalition wants to dismantle the Houthi by taking the port from them and ending their suppy of weapons.
He has also said that the Houthi use the port to smuggle Iranian made weapons such as missles to attack Saudi cities, the claim has been denied by Houthis and Iran.