Alwaght- Recently, the Saudi-led Arab coalition and the resigned President Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi’s mercenaries have intensified their attacks on the Yemeni ports city of al-Hudaydah. According to the reports, the new wave of aggression killed 150 Yemeni civilians. Reports suggest that in the first day, the Arab coalition launched about 30 airstrikes on the city. Some 200 air raids have so far been reported.
The new push to take control of the crucial port city was begun on Thursday, a day after the US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in a speech said that the Yemen peace talks to end the four-year war on the impoverished country should start from the next month.
Over the past few months, the international organizations and global public opinion pressed for an end to the devastating war. But there was no calm. Instead, the strikes were renewed. Some questions now present themselves: Why is the Arab alliance stepping up attacks at the present time? How significant is al-Hudaydah Port for the aggressors? And what is the US role in intensity and ease of military campaign?
Al-Hudaydah continuous conflict
Saudi Arabia and the UAE, the major members of the Arab alliance, began their assault against al-Hudaygdah in June while the United Nations was busy arranging for peace talks between the warring sides. In a largely asymmetrical confrontation and contrary to the prediction of the Saudi-Emirati alliance about a sweeping capture of the port, the Ansarullah movement forces destroyed a UAE frigate carrying forces and equipment for a coast landing. A second warship had to sail away from the Yemeni territorial waters.
In the meantime, the US and British warships have been deployed to the strategic points off Yemen coast. The two Western powers also sent advisory forces and provided logistics to their Arab allies. The support helped much to the two Arab allies’ capacity to intensify their attacks. But after a month-long push for the port and fierce fighting between the two sides, the popular forces and Ansarullah resistance thwarted the two Arab countries’ plans.
Al-Hudaydah Port is 150 kilometers away from the capital Sana’a, with a population of about 600,000. Over 70 percent of Yemen's imports are made through this port and nearly all of the humanitarian aids are delivered in this port.
The significance of the port encouraged the occupying forces to go to great lengths to capture it. When the first round of al-Hudaydah assault failed, the US decided to directly dispatch forces to part of the south. After the first failure, the coalition members launched a new aggression against the port city in September.
The goals driving the attack on the port
The first objective is to wrest concessions from Ansarullah, which governs the capital and some other provinces, in the possible peace negotiations. According to the experiences, it is hard for the coalition forces to defeat the Yemenis and take control of the important southern city. Even if they manage to take parts of the city, it will be hard for them to keep it for a long time. So, the main drive behind the recent escalation is the consequent political achievements. The US seems to be willing to broker the talks as it is heavily under pressure from rights groups and international organizations which regularly publish reports on the casualties and the humanitarian catastrophe the war brings about.
In October 2016, the US Senate passed a bill calling on the Pentagon to halt air support including the refueling of the warplanes of the Arab coalition. But the Pentagon ignored the lawmakers' call. The pressures continued to date.
On Saturday, Senator Todd Young of Indiana and Senator Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire called for the administration to send a clear and serious message to Saudi Arabia.
“If the administration does not take immediate steps, including ending U.S. refueling of Saudi coalition aircraft, we are prepared to take action when the Senate comes back into session” Young’s statement on his website read.
So, it is no surprise that the Saudis and the Emiratis, after Pompeo ultimatum for peace dialogue and even hastier than ever, frantically launch new attacks on the strategic port city to gain as many bargaining chips as possible while the pressures are mounting on them. The UN envoy to Yemen conflict Martin Griffiths has recently staged new efforts to start the peace talks and the World Health Organization has warned of diseases that threaten the lives of millions of Yemenis.
The second goal is to tighten the encirclement on Ansarullah for doubled pressures. The city is of special geographical importance and serves as a lifeline for the country. Urgently needed goods are imported to the country via this gate. Having in mind that in the ground clashes the aggression forces failed to make gains, the alliance wants to tighten the noose on the Yemenis via air raids on the port.
The third goal is the materialization of the federalization plan in Yemen. In addition to the Saudi and Emirati forces, tribal fighters loyal to Mansour Hadi and the former President Ali Abdullah Saleh, as well as UAE-backed mercenaries, are taking part in the battle for the port. Each party is expected to claim a share from the strategic Yemeni regions once the war ends. Riyadh and Abu Dhabi are themselves in dispute over sensitive parts of the country, mainly the south.
Al Hudaydah battle comes with a Saudi price but a favor to the UAE. In addition to the war costs, Riyadh pays psychological and credibility costs. Also, the two allies are at odds over Mansur Hadi presidency. Hadi is an ally to Saudi Arabia and makes gains from continued war, while the UAE only pays the costs and makes no gains from his presidency.
Where does the battle go?
The WHO in its report has Saud that 10 million Yemeni children are in urgent need of medical care. The organization added that every day, a large number of children die of fatal diseases.
The French newspaper Le Monde website in a report maintained that the heads of 62 rights organizations in a letter written to the United Nations Security Council members warned that civilians are increasingly killed or die of diseases and famine. They condemned the bombing of hospitals, schools, and markets as “crimes against humanity”.
The pressures are driving the US administration officials to call for peace talks. Secretary of Defense James Mattis last week said that the Yemeni parties should start the peace talks within 30 days. Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont in later October said that “the US is deeply engaged in this war.”
After a new round of Hudaydah strikes began, a number of rights activists gathered in New York on Thursday and condemned the Saudi atrocities. Furthermore, with the regard to the Senate pressures, the White House can no longer direct the war and so inevitably has to end a war it directly or indirectly ignited.