By Theodore Shoebat
The government of Saudi Arabia is asking the US to back its invasion of the Yemeni city of Hodeidah. Human rights groups are saying that an invasion of the city will cause a humanitarian disaster. Looking at how horrific the war in Yemen is — with thousands killed by bullets, bombs, disease and starvation — this warning is not adventuresome nor an exaggeration, as war always brings misery (and this is surely an understatement). As Croesus told king Cyrus: “No one is so foolish as to choose war over peace. In peace sons bury their fathers, in war fathers bury their sons.”
As we read in one report from RT:
The Saudi-led coalition is reportedly seeking direct US support to recapture the port city of Hodeidah in Yemen. The battle for the humanitarian lifeline would spell disaster for the locals, human rights agencies warn.
For nearly a week, the Saudi-led coalition forces have been preparing to launch a large-scale offensive on Hodeidah, the fourth-largest city in Yemen, with a population of 400,000 people, in an effort to recapture the city’s port which currently serves as one of the remaining humanitarian lifelines in the war-stricken country. However, before cutting what they call the “vein that the Houthis are benefiting from,” the coalition decided to seek US support, the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) reported on Sunday.
According to anonymous US officials familiar with the issue, the United Arab Emirates approached Washington with the request. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is now waiting for a “quick assessment” of the UAE’s plea, which seeks US intelligence capabilities, mainly drone overflights, to help a Saudi-led coalition retake Hodeidah. Washington’s potential involvement has excited a number of US officials and has left others worried about the potential consequences of such an operation. While the US is weighing its options, the UAE and Saudi Arabian officials have allegedly assured the US that they will stay clear of the port.
Recapturing Hodeidah and its port is crucial for Saudi Arabia. Over the course of the conflict, Riyadh has repeatedly tried to blockade the docks, claiming that the port is being used to smuggle arms for the Houthi rebels. Repeated calls from human rights groups and the UN have kept the port open, on and off, so that vital aid can be delivered to the country.
With an imminent threat hanging over the city now, numerous human rights groups warn that the battle to retake Hodeidah would spell humanitarian disaster.
“Given the grave humanitarian implications, if the attack goes ahead, we are calling on the parties to halt an attack,”Daniel Gorevan, a spokesman for the Norwegian Refugee Council, told RT. “Hodeidah is a very densely populated area, and our predictions are that up to 100,000 people are at a risk of displacement or being caught in the crossfire.”
“Hodeidah is essentially a lifeline for millions of struggling Yemenis. Twenty-two million people are in need of humanitarian assistance, and the goods and the fuel and the medicine that comes through Hodeidah is a lifeline for those people,” Gorevan added.
“It’s a densely-populated area where any military scenario will risk coming at a huge human cost,” Robert Mardini, Middle East regional director for the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), told Reuters on Friday. “It remains a lifeline for the highlands where close to 70 percent of Yemenis live. It’s about the need to have commercial imports.”
Martin Griffiths, Special Envoy for Yemen has also warned that attacking the port city would put an end to any possible diplomatic solution to the crisis. “We are all very concerned about the possible humanitarian consequences of a battle for Hodeidah,” he said, according to WSJ.
Amid fears of an imminent attack, foreign nationals have started to leave Hodeidah. “All foreign workers, over 200 of different nationalities, have left Hodeidah,” a local military official told the Chinese Xinhua news agency, on condition of anonymity. “The foreign workers, mostly from Arab and other countries, left Hodeidah for fear of their lives as they may be exploited or used as human shields by the Houthi rebels.”
As the battle draws near, Houthis vowed to continue resistance. “The West Coast will be a graveyard for the invaders and mercenaries, and a message to the whole world that the Yemeni people will not abandon their land, whatever the challenges,” Houthi Deputy Prime Minister for Services Affairs, Mahmoud al-Junaid, vowed on Sunday.
The Saudi-led coalition has been waging a brutal military campaign in Yemen since March 2015, trying to restore former president Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi to power. The three years of Saudi-led bombardment and blockade of Yemen has led to the near-collapse of the country. Some 22 million people, or 80 percent of the Yemeni population, are in need of humanitarian aid, while more than half of the country is left without basic medical services.
The United States has already been backing Saudi Arabia in its war against Yemen, with the US giving the Saudis weapons, according to a former CIA officer, Jack Rice who, in an interview with RT, said:
That too is difficult to tell because here is what we do know. We are talking about 10,000 dead at this point. We have one of the worst humanitarian crises on the planet right now in Yemen and that has continued. Have things improved a little? In some ways, they have. But they have actually gotten worse in other ways with the cholera epidemic and other issues. The idea that things would be better or worse – it is very difficult to say. Whether or not the American direct military involvement would make it better or worse. In the end, one of the big problems, of course, is the recent American deal with the Saudis selling them €12.5 billion in arms. The Americans may try to stay at arm’s length. But, frankly, they are involved. It is their weapons that are being used.
My biggest concern is that we have seen over and over again civilians seemingly being targeted. We have seen this again… with the apparent targeting of schools, targeting of hospitals, targeting of other civilian zones that have no military bases. Which brings to mind for me what the purpose is. So, we have seen this in large numbers. We have seen this in other war zones as well. But what we are seeing right now are larger than, if we could say this, average hits on civilians. So, this is very disturbing indeed.