Small Wars Journal

What the Battle for Hodeidah Means for Yemen and the Region

What the Battle for Hodeidah Means for Yemen and the Region by Michael Horton – Jamestown Foundation

On June 13, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, in conjunction with their Yemeni allies, launched “Operation Golden Victory.” The grandiosely named offensive is aimed at seizing the Yemeni Red Sea port of Hodeidah, which has been occupied by Yemen’s Houthi rebels since 2014. Hodeidah is Yemen’s most important port and is the transit point for as much as 70 percent of the country’s critical food and humanitarian aid.

Saudi Arabia, the UAE and their Yemeni allies correctly calculated that seizing Hodeidah would be a critical step toward isolating the Houthis. The loss of the port city would curtail the Houthis’ ability to threaten ships transiting the Bab al-Mandeb straight and would make it more difficult for the Houthis to provision their forces. It is doubtful, however, that Saudi Arabia and the UAE and their Yemeni allies are capable of fully prosecuting the offensive or willing to sustain the kind of losses that taking the port will likely require in the case that the Houthis decide to fully commit their forces to defending the port.Even if Hodeidah is captured, it does not mean that its capture will mark the beginning of the end of the war in Yemen. On the contrary, it may well mark the start of a new and far more violent chapter in a war that has already gone on for three years. Rather than shortening the war, the capture of Hodeidah could prolong it and lead to a further escalation of regional tensions. What is certain is that Yemen’s long suffering civilian population will bear the brunt of the violence, ever increasing food insecurity, and worsening humanitarian crisis…

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