Hodeidah (GPA) – The American, Saudi, and Emirati advance on Hodeidah started yesterday with a bang — and Yemeni forces have already reportedly struck a warship in response.
Yemen Faces Intense Bombardment from Air, Land, and Sea
After weeks of intense deliberation between U.S. and Gulf allies while experts urged against military attacks, the coalition in Yemen launched a coordinated advance on Hodeidah port. The United Arab Emirates appears to be leading the operation from the coastline with warships while intense Saudi airstrikes rain down from the skies.
Eyewitnesses in Hodeidah reported fierce bombing attacks in several locations along Yemen’s west coast: 30 in less than half an hour. Ships also bombarded Yemeni fortifications along the coastline. Meanwhile, U.S.-Saudi coalition troops attempted to advance on the ground — especially near a strategic airport.
Saudi Arabia has indiscriminately bombed Yemen on a daily basis for the past three years. Several of the attacks in Hodeidah today hit a civilian’s farm. In Saada province, bombs targeted a civilian’s car killing two as well as two homes. An air raid in Sana’a also destroyed a home.
It’s unclear exactly how much support the United States is providing to the Saudi coalition for the Hodeidah advance. Prior to the operation, the Abu Dhabi requested Washington increase military support — likely in the form of airstrikes, warships, and possibly even ground troops.
Read more about Yemen:
Yemeni Forces Respond by Striking Coalition Warship
Yemen’s Army and Popular Committees have spent the last three years preparing for this exact operation on Hodeidah. Yemen can now develop short and long-range ballistic missiles, naval missiles, anti-aircraft weapons, surveillance drones. The Army and Popular Committees have also had plenty of time to train and test their equipment in battle.
Shortly after the coalition began their assault on Hodeidah, Yemen’s naval forces struck a U.A.E. warship with two sea-to-sea missiles. Yemeni officials and leaders warned last week that attacking this port is a red line that would be met with a swift response.
A Yemeni military source said that Apache helicopters hovered over the ship after the attack to rescue crew members. A statement from Yemen’s Naval and Coastal Defense Forces says that the ship was carrying coalition troops for an invasion. The statement also says that these retaliatory attacks will continue so long as the U.S.-Saudi-U.A.E. coalition continues trespassing in Yemen’s territorial waters.
According to a Yemeni military source, U.S. ships supporting the U.A.E. retreated following the attack.
Hours later, Yemen’s Army and Popular Committees reportedly advanced on the ground in southeast Hodeidah. Yemeni forces have also expanded their operations beyond the Saudi border in response. Yemeni forces carried out a successful offensive in Asir as well as other attacks in Najran and Jizan.
Yemeni operations beyond the Saudi border and other areas like Taiz help take resources and attention away from the Hodeidah’s operation “Golden Victory.” Even in the disastrous situation that the Saudi coalition secures Hodeidah, they’ll still have an insurgency within their borders to contend with.
Operation “Golden Victory:” Victory for Who?
Around 1.5 million people live in and around the port city of Hodeidah — one of Yemen’s most populated areas. Conservative estimates suggest 250,000 could die during the military operation alone. 22 million Yemenis risk starvation, famine, and disease should the Saudi coalition control access to aid through Hodeidah port.
Chairman of Sana’a’s Supreme Revolutionary Committee, Mohammed Ali al-Houthi, stressed the importance of Hodeidah for the millions of civilians requiring immediate humanitarian assistance. He also condemned members of the coalition for misleading public opinion and interfering with aid deliveries. Al-Houthi held the United States and United Kingdom responsible for Yemen’s suffering for providing weapons and military assistance to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.
Also published on Medium.