Yemen’s main port could become the next battleground

YEMENI forces backed by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) have been on a roll lately. Over the past month the coalition has pushed 80km north (see map), repelling the Houthis, a group of Shia rebels that chased the government out of Sana’a, the capital, in 2015. It is now 12km from Hodeida, the main port, which is held by the Houthis.

Were it to take Hodeida, the coalition could further squeeze Houthi-controlled areas, where most Yemenis live. The port is Yemen’s primary conduit for humanitarian aid, which 22m people, or 80% of the population, depend on. War would disrupt the flow, leaving 8m people at risk of starvation, says the UN.

The UN and some Western governments have urged the coalition to stop. Six times over the past two years, humanitarian appeals and American pressure have staved off an Emirati-led attack on Hodeida. But control of the port would bring the coalition closer to its goal of regaining the entire coastal plain, landlocking the…

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