Published: Fri, June 15, 2018
Global Media | By Jackie Banks

Contradicting stances by the United Nations towards Yemen's Hodeidah

Contradicting stances by the United Nations towards Yemen's Hodeidah

"The @WSJ reports the Trump Administration is supporting the brazen UAE military offensive on Hodeidah in Yemen", Lieu tweeted after the hearing.

Iranian-aligned Shiite rebels known as Houthis and their allies for years have held the Red Sea port, crucial to food supplies in a nation on the brink of starvation after years of war.

The Sunni Muslim Arab states see the Houthi rise as expansionism by their Shi'ite foe Iran.

Asked whether he anxious the Shiite rebels known as Houthis would damage the crucial Yemen port, the ambassador said: "They will damage it, but we have plans for that".

Saudi Arabia's ambassador to the United States, Khalid bin Salman, posted on Twitter on Tuesday that the Coalition's operations to "liberate" Hodiedah were "part of the Coalition's unwavering commitment to support the people of Yemen against the tyranny imposed by Iranian-backed militias that are spreading chaos and destruction in Yemen". Worldwide observers have warned that a military fight over the port city could halt life-saving food and medicine and cause the starvation of millions.

The coalition offensive came as Middle East Eye received exclusive information alleging that the UAE had forced Yemen's President Abd Rabbuh Mansour Hadi to announce his support for the Emirati-backed assault against his will.

"The Saudi coalition has not advanced at all in al-Hudaydah", Dayfallah al-Shami, a member of the Houthi political bureau, told a Lebanese TV broadcaster.

Is Yemen set to lose a humanitarian lifeline? "We already gave the United Nations the chance to operate from this seaport, and (the Houthis) refused".

"Cutting off imports through Hodeida for any length of time will put Yemen's population at extreme, unjustifiable risk", Lise Grande, UN humanitarian coordinator for Yemen, said.

"We still have seven ships in the port".

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After a two-hour U.N. Security Council meeting, the 15-member body urged "all sides to uphold their obligations under global humanitarian law", said Russian U.N. Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia, president of the council for June.

The Houthis deployed military vehicles and troops in the city centre and near the port, as warplanes struck the coast to the south, residents told Al Jazeera.

Bombardment was heavy, with one aid official reporting 30 strikes in 30 minutes.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres had said that UN envoy Martin Griffiths was in "intense negotiations" in an attempt to avoid a military confrontation.

Reem al-Hashimy, the UAE minister of state for worldwide cooperation, has said if the port is wrested from the Houthis, the coalition could ease controls, aimed at denying the group arms, and so improve the flow of goods and aid into Yemen. Some 2,000 troops who crossed the Red Sea from an Emirati naval base in the African nation of Eritrea landed west of the city with plans to seize Hudaida's port, Yemeni security officials said.

But they accused the Houthis of planting mines that could prolong efforts to bring in aid after the port's capture.

The United States, Britain and France all sell billions of dollars of weapons a year to the Arab countries.

Meanwhile, the coalition cobbled together a force of southern separatist groups, Islamist fighters with links to al-Qaida and units led by Tarek Saleh, the nephew of the late former Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh. "Ambassador Satterfield, in response to my question in Committee if the United States was supporting the operation, just said under oath: NO. Hmmm". "So we hold them and America responsible".

The British foreign secretary urged the Huthis to "not compromise port facilities or hinder the humanitarian response". "Everything depends on that port", she said. It was not clear at the moment what kind of concrete support Washington offered to the operation on Wednesday. The attack on Hudaydah began the next day.

Yemen's exiled government says their forces and allied Saudi-led troops launched their assault on Hodeida only after "exhausting all peaceful and political means".

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