Pentagon and Aid Workers Clash Over Planned Assault in Yemen

State Dept, USAID Both Oppose Offensive

Pentagon officials have been making clear for weeks that they are eager to directly join Saudi Arabia’s war in Yemen, and have excitedly laid out plans for deeper involvement in the conflict to the rest of the administration, centering on joining the invasion of Hodeidah, a Red Sea port which is where most humanitarian aid enters the country.

Hodeidah’s vitalness to the already shaky aid supply to northern Yemen isn’t sitting well with aid workers, or even with State Department and USAID officials, who were quick to note that cutting off Hodeidah to the northern Yemenis would lead directly to a full-blown famine.

Officially, the Pentagon is just denying the famine risk out of hand, claiming that the invasion would be “clean,” and that they could deliver the port to the Saudis in just a few weeks. The assumption is that the aid would resume immediately, though in practice the reason Hodeidah is the only port for the rebel north is that the Saudis have prevented aid from moving through their ports into the north, and with Hodeidah would be able to do so even more.

Mass starvation in Yemen’s Shi’ite dominated north is likely the point from Saudi Arabia’s perspective of being so interested in attack Hodeidah, as they’ve been bombing port infrastructure there throughout the war to limit food deliveries. The reason for the Pentagon’s interest in joining this particular offensive is unknown.


Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is news editor of