LONDON: The Saudi Ambassador to the US Prince Khalid bin Salman defended the coalition advance on Hodeidah, assuring the world that it was done to secure Yemen and maritime routes in the Red Sea.
Prince Khalid said that the "operations to liberate the city of Hodeidah are in line with the support delivered by the Saudi-led Arab coalition to the Yemeni people, and a way to support their freedom against the militia supported by Iran bent on sowing chaos and destruction in the country."
The Saudi ambassador was speaking as operation ‘Golden Victory’ launched by the Saudi-led coalition to re-take Hodeidah port and town has been gaining momentum after Yemeni forces, backed by coalition air power, advanced to areas south of Hodeidah on Yemen’s western Red Sea coast. Yemeni forces on Wednesday got closer to Hodeidah after taking control of the suburb of Nekheila south of the town.
Prince Khalid added in a separate tweet that the Saudi-led coalition’s operations in Hodeidah are important in light of the increased threat the militias controlling the port have been posing for maritime security in the Red Sea. The ambassador noted that Hodeidah port, which is on the Red Sea close to the Bab-el-Mandeb strait, "is a vital waterway through which 15 percent of world trade passes annually as well as regional trade and commerce." He added that "Iran-backed Houthi militia have launched repeated attacks on commercial and military ships belonging to Saudi Arabia, the UAE and the US."
In later tweets, Prince Khalid reminded the world that "the Kingdom has been and will continue to be at the forefront of humanitarian efforts to support the brotherly people of Yemen." He added that Saudi Arabia has supported Yemen all along and "these efforts included the recent contribution of $1.5 billion to UN relief efforts in Yemen, the largest in UN history, as well as initiatives to enhance the capacity of ports throughout Yemen including facilitiating the entry of cranes into Hodeidah." The ambassador reiterated his country’s position regarding an end to the conflict, saying that "the most effective solution to the situation in Hodeidah, and in Yemen, is for the Houthi militias to adhere to UNSC resolution 2216 which calls for the unconditional withdrawal from all occupied cities."
He added that Houthi militias continue to obstruct UN mediation efforts to end the conflict, leading special UN Yemen envoy Martin Griffith to propose handing over control of Hodeidah port to the UN, which is the same proposal made by the coalition many months ago.