Operation to take Hodeidah essential for Yemenis, security of Red Sea: Saudi ambassador to US

File photo showing Saudi Arabian ambassador to the US, Prince Khalid bin Salman, arriving at Capitol Hill in Washington. (Reuters)
Updated 14 June 2018
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Operation to take Hodeidah essential for Yemenis, security of Red Sea: Saudi ambassador to US

  • Prince Khalid: 'Coalition operations to liberate Hodeidah aim to support the freedom of Yemenis against the Houthi militia.'
  • 'Operations to re-take Hodeidah are important to secure Red Sea maritime routes.'

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.


Hodeidah offensive: Coalition forces seize weapons supplied by Iran to Houthis

Arab coalition spokesman Col. Turki Al-Maliki speaks during a press conference in Riyadh. (AN photo by Bashir Saleh)
Updated 20 June 2018
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Hodeidah offensive: Coalition forces seize weapons supplied by Iran to Houthis

  • The arsenal included drones, a sniper rifle, roadside bombs disguised as rocks and even a “drone boat” which had been filled with explosives that failed to detonate.
  • Equipment used to produce and load fuel for rockets that target Saudi Arabia contained Iranian labels.

JEDDAH: Saudi-led coalition officials on Tuesday displayed weapons and explosives supplied by Iran to Houthi militias in the Yemeni port city of Hodeidah. 

The arsenal included drones, a sniper rifle, roadside bombs disguised as rocks and even a “drone boat” which had been filled with explosives that failed to detonate.

Equipment used to produce and load fuel for rockets that target Saudi Arabia contained Iranian labels. The weapons were captured on the battlefield in Hodeidah and displayed at a military base in the UAE. 

“Unsurprisingly, there are advanced military components in the Houthi militias’ hands,” said Talal Al-Teneiji, an official at the UAE Foreign Ministry.

“We took time to inspect and disassemble these to figure out the source ... and we can say that these elements are military-grade materials imported from Iran to the Houthi militias.”

As the week-long offensive in Hodeidah intensified on Tuesday, coalition forces consolidated their grip on the city’s airport and there was new fighting on the main coast road leading to the city center, with Apache helicopters providing air support to the coalition. 

“We can hear the sounds of artillery, mortars and sporadic machinegun fire. The Houthis have been using tanks,” one civilian on the coastal strip said. 

“Water has been cut off to many of the areas near the corniche area because the Houthis have dug trenches and closed water pipes.”

At the airport, which the coalition has controlled since Saturday, their forces stormed the main compound and took full command.

UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash said: “We are waiting for the Houthis to realize the sort of military and psychological blow that they got with the airport ... we are giving them time to decide if they want to save the city ... and pull out.”

Oubai Shahbandar, a strategic communications adviser, told Arab News that “without the sea and airport of Hodeidah, the Houthi militia has effectively lost the war.”

They should agree to UN-hosted peace talks and not prolong the fighting. “The tide in this conflict has clearly turned in favor of the Arab coalition and the welfare of the Yemeni people ought to be paramount,” he said.