- The Trump administration is considering helping the Saudi-led coalition militarily seize a port from Iranian-backed Houthis in war-torn Yemen.
- The United Arab Emirates, one of the major players in the Saudi-led coalition, has asked the US to help the coalition seize the Red Sea port of Hodeidah.
- But aid groups and some US officials have said that such a military assault on the port could spiral into a humanitarian disaster, effectively closing a port that many Yemenis rely on for food and aid.
The Trump administration is considering helping the Saudi-led coalition militarily seize a port from Iranian-backed Houthi rebels in war-torn Yemen, according to The Wall Street Journal.
The United Arab Emirates, one of the major players in the Saudi-led coalition, has asked the US to help the coalition seize the Red Sea port of Hodeidah, and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has directed US officials to assess the situation, The Journal reported.
But aid groups and some US officials have said that such a military assault on the port could spiral into a humanitarian disaster, effectively closing a port that many Yemenis rely on for food and aid, according to Reuters and The Journal.
The conflict in Yemen has already been described as one of the worst humanitarian disasters in the world, with at least eight million people on the brink of starvation due to famine, and one million children infected with cholera.
The Saudi-led coalition began striking the Shiite Muslim Houthis in 2015 after the Houthis overthrew the government of President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi from the Yemeni capital of Sanaa.
The Saudi-led coalition has told the US that it would not assault the port without US support, but coalition forces are already about 12 miles from the port, raising concerns of an impending battle, The Journal and Reuters reported.
“The coalition ground forces are now at the doorstep of this heavily fortified, heavily mined port city” Jan Egeland, the secretary-general of the Norwegian Refugee Council, told Reuters last week.
“Thousands of civilians are fleeing from the outskirts of Hodeidah which is now a battle zone,” Egeland said. “We cannot have war in Hodeidah, it would be like war in Rotterdam or Antwerp, these are comparable cities in Europe.”
Currently, the US sells weapons to countries in the Saudi-led coalition, as well as provides “limited intelligence sharing,” aerial refueling for coalition jets, and training to make coalition airstrikes more precise, Major Rankine-Galloway, a Pentagon spokesperson, previously told Business Insider.
US Green Berets are also reportedly helping Saudi Arabia locate and destroy Iranian-backed Houthi ballistic missiles and launch sites in the war-torn country.
In late January, Germany and Norway announced that they would stop selling weapons to countries in the Saudi-led coalition over the war in Yemen.
The Saudi-led coalition has been accused of conducting indiscriminate and unlawful airstrikes, as well as blocking food, fuel, and medicine into Yemen, according to Human Rights Watch. At the same time, the Houthis have repeatedly fired artillery at Yemeni cities, missiles at Saudi Arabia, been accused of using child soldiers, and more.
The Journal reported that the Trump administration would meet with US officials who focus on Yemen on Monday to discuss the situation.