By mid-2016, Yemen had at least 7 million people living under “emergency levels” of food insecurity due to the Saudi Arabia-led war in the country, the United Nations World Food Programme reported at the time. Unfortunately, the near famine levels Yemenis were experiencing then barely made the news.
The Yemeni port of Hodeidah, which is located in the west coast, is under the control of Iran-backed Houthi rebels, making it the target of the coalition led by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.
For more than a year, the United States urged the Saudis to avoid attacking the port, since humanitarian supplies entering the country flow through the coast. But now, many fear President Donald Trump may have softened the U.S. stance on the matter. If these concerns are rooted in reality, the last remaining flow of humanitarian relief entering Yemen may cease, and a full-blown famine may settle in.
According to The Huffington Post, the coalition, as well as the nominal Yemeni government of President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi, have been redirecting humanitarian and commercial ships to the port of Aden, keeping food and other materials from reaching Hodeidah. This move could be a sign that a major attack is imminent.
The Aden port is located about 250 miles away from Hodeidah and is much smaller.
With the recent airstrikes over Hodeidah and a military offensive led by the Saudis with the goal of retaking Mokha, a port city about 100 miles to the south, aid workers have started developing a contingency plan. They fear anti-Houthi forces will move from Mokha to close Hodeidah next, with the goal of retaking the port.
If successful, the coalition's move could bring front lines around Hodeidah, closing the passage of food. If the coalition takes control of the port and the Houthi fighters make attempts at retaking it, the population may soon be completely isolated, making the job of aid workers much more difficult.
So far, The Huffington Post reported, both the State Department and the White House have not denied or confirmed whether Trump has softened the U.S. position on this matter. But if Washington fails to pressure the Saudi-led coalition, the publication states, the fight for Hodeidah may take place after all.
The Yemen war will go down in history as one of America's most shameful and yet least discussed wars. With the U.S. having been involved in the conflict directly or indirectly from the get-go, the Saudi-led coalition always felt confident that its interference in the country's affairs would be successful.
Because Yemen controls a narrow choke-point to the Red Sea and the Suez Canal, many have speculated that the Saudis feared Iran-backed rebels were taking over the region where a great deal of the world's petroleum passes daily.
Once again, America seems oblivious to the fact that being involved in this war is yet another immoral act. When will we learn from history?
Banner and thumbnail credit: Reuters, Feisal Omar