The suffering of 700,000 Yemenis living in Hodeidah will end as soon as their city is liberated by the rapid advance of the legitimate Yemeni forces, supported by the Arab coalition. The coalition managed in a short period of time in capturing Hodeidah airport on Saturday, which is an important strategic step in its mission to liberate the province’s main port.
Seventy percent of Yemen’s imports pass through the port, which has been the Iran-backed militias’ source of income for three years (they have imposed a fee of some $100,000 on each ship seeking to dock and unload its food or oil cargo). Ending the militias’ hold on the port will restore valuable income to Yemen’s budget and ensure that employee salaries are paid after a 20-month halt. The capture of the port will also stop the smuggling of Iranian missiles, 130 of which were used to target Saudi territory.
Most importantly though, the liberation of the port will be a decisive step that forces the Houtihs to return to the negotiations table to discuss a political solution based on the Gulf initiative, national dialogue and Security Council resolution 2216.
Hodeidah is the Houthis’ last remaining city stronghold after the capital Sanaa.
The coalition’s humanitarian focus
All signs indicate that the Houthis will have a very hard time retaining Hodeidah. Such a feat is beyond their capabilities as they only have some 2,000 fighters in the city, many of whom are foreign outcasts who are alien to the city. These fighters are surrounded by 700,000 Yemeni residents and 25,000 Yemeni army and resistance members.
The Arab coalition will seek to wage a lightening battle and it will emerge victorious in a short period of time. It will not allow false humanitarian claims made by the UN and its agencies to be politically exploited by the Houthis to prolong the crisis in Hodeidah and the suffering of the people.
The Guardian, quoting UN officials, meanwhile, predicted that civilian casualties may reach 300,000. What sort of nonsense is this?
The Arab coalition is following a humanitarian strategy alongside its military one in order to protect civilians and infrastructure in a manner that would liberate the city with minimal losses.
The coalition was right in waiting three years before launching its military operation. It waited three long years on the UN to intervene and take control of Hodeidah port. It did neither this nor that. It instead allowed the Houthis to capture the port.
The military operation will push the Houthis to the negotiations table, an achievement that was not reached by the UN through its long silence. The liberation of Hodeidah will create enough massive pressure to bring the Houthis to negotiations.
(Courtesy: Al Arabiya)
Salman Aldosary is the former editor-in-chief of Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper. He tweets @SalmanAldosary.