UAE minister: Arab coalition’s full control of Hodeidah only a matter of time

Update UAE minister: Arab coalition’s full control of Hodeidah only a matter of time
This image grab taken from a AFPTV video shows Yemeni pro-government forces firing a heavy machine gun at the south of Hodeida airport. (AFP)
Updated 18 June 2018

UAE minister: Arab coalition’s full control of Hodeidah only a matter of time

UAE minister: Arab coalition’s full control of Hodeidah only a matter of time
  • Gargash, speaking to reporters in Dubai, estimated the number of Houthi fighters in Hodeidah at between 2,000 to 3,000
  • The UN envoy for Yemen carried a plan to halt fighting around the key aid port of Hodeidah where Houthi militia have been battling a regional coalition as he arrived Saturday in the militia-held capital Sanaa

DUBAI: The Saudi-led coalition fighting Iran-backed Houthi militia for control of Yemen’s main port city of Hodeidah will take a “calculated and gradual” approach to the battle, a senior United Arab Emirates official said on Monday.

The comments came after witnesses said eight villagers had been killed and 15 others wounded when Houthi militia shelled a village in the center of the country called Haglan Maris.

Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash said the military alliance led by Saudi Arabia and the UAE was taking into consideration a “fragile humanitarian situation,” avoiding civilian casualties in addition to military calculations.

Gargash, speaking to reporters in Dubai, estimated the number of Houthi fighters in Hodeidah at between 2,000 to 3,000. He declined to reveal the size of coalition forces but said they had “numerical superiority.”

He said that the Arab coalition’s full control of Hodeidah only a matter of time.
“From our perspective, three years of war is enough. It is time for the political process,” Gargash told journalists. “If the Houthis don’t want to start the political process, we will force them to start the political process.”

Gargash added that the Hodeidah port is a “major artery” for weapons smuggling from Iran to the Houthis.

“The liberation of Hodeidah is a major step in freeing Sanaa,” the UAE minister said, adding that “the roads leading to the port are filled with mines.”

France is said to be helping the Arab coalition in de-mining the roads.

The port remains open for incoming ships and Gargash said the UAE had plans for “airdrops” of food if necessary. Hodeida International Airport, which has seen days of intense fighting, has been bombed and closed for years. Gargash said Emirati forces also fear the Houthis mining channels leading to the port.

For now, he said he hoped the campaign would aid UN special envoy to Yemen Martin Griffiths’ efforts to get a cease-fire and have the Houthis leave Hodeida.
“We are still counting on the UN attempt to try and pull a rabbit out of the hat,” Gargash said.

Martin Griffiths was expected to propose to militia leaders that they cede control of the Red Sea port to a UN-supervised committee and halt heavy clashes against advancing government troops backed by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.
(With AFP, AP & Reuters)