صحف نت - A coalition of Gulf states fighting in Yemen’s civil war is reconsidering plans to attack the port of Hodeida after an international outcry at the potential effects on civilians and aid efforts, The Times reported .
The UN and aid agencies say that any assault, indicated to be the next step in the war by the Saudi Arabian and Emirati armed forces backing the recognised government, would lead to a humanitarian disaster.
The latest warning came yesterday from the World Food Programme. David Beasley, the programme’s new head, said that 80 per cent of imports into Yemen come through the port. “If that port is shut down for whatever reason, it would bring disaster to Yemen,” he said.
Sources in the United Arab Emirates say that plans to assault the town are being “reassessed”.
The hesitation was all but confirmed by Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the deputy crown prince of Saudi Arabia and its defence minister. In an interview on Tuesday he hinted that appeals to put humanitarian issues first also contributed to a rethink.
“The Houthis and their allies could be rooted out in several days, but the cost would be thousands of dead among our soldiers and losses too high among the Yemeni civilians,” he said.
The war, which began when the Houthis seized the Yemen capital of Sana’a and drove south in alliance with the ousted previous president Ali Abdullah Saleh, has reached a stalemate.
Troops loyal to President Hadi, once Mr Saleh’s vice-president, managed to push the Houthis out of the southern coastal areas around Aden, with the support of Emirati special forces and, controversially, fighters allied to al-Qaeda.
The Houthis have the country’s third city, Taiz, under siege, while government forces are pressing up the west coast towards Hodeida.
The Emiratis and Saudis say the only way to break the stalemate and force the Houthis to the negotiating table is to seize Hodeida, which is also the rebels’ main supply point. It is at present partly blockaded by the Saudi and Emirati navies.
The effect on food supplies, as well as Houthi sieges, has left 17 million Yemenis out of a population of 25 million suffering from hunger, with seven million in dire need of food.
“We’re on the brink of famine in Yemen, and every day that passes that we do not have a political solution is another day closer to famine,” Mr Beasley said.
Jan Egeland, head of the Norwegian Refugee Council and a United Nations humanitarian adviser, said: “We will have a famine of Biblical proportions if it continues like now with only a portion of those in greatest need getting humanitarian relief.”
A UN-sponsored peace process collapsed last year.
Prince Mohammed said that Saudi Arabia could sustain the war continuing, and rejected the possibility of a “grand bargain” with Iran over the two regional powers’ competing ambitions in the Middle East. “A long war is in our interest,” he said.
"بإمكانكم إيضاً مطالعة خبر (Arab coalition rethinks over Yemen port attack to avert a humanitarian disaster - صحف نت) من موقع (اليمن العربي)"