Saudi media is reporting that the official start of the attack on the Yemeni port of Hodeidah. Locals reported convoys of vehicles speeding toward the city, and heavy gunfire was reported around the outskirts of the city.
Hodeidah is a city of around 600,000 people, and the lone port city under the control of the Shi’ite Houthi rebels. This has made it by far the most important port for humanitarian aid, with estimates that as much as 70% of aid comes through the port.
Saudi-backed forces have been advancing toward the port for weeks, fueling concerns the attack would spark a humanitarian crisis and major famine. This famine is much of the point of the attack, as invading forces hope it will force the rebels to surrender, or at least severely damage their morale. The war has long done massive harm to civilians, and this is just a continuation of that on a larger scale.
The UN has been warning against the invasion on humanitarian grounds. They have engaged in talks which would’ve seen the rebels ceding the port to UN administration, keeping it open to aid and presumably immune from attack.
The US position on Hodeidah continues to shift wildly, however. Though some officials have said the US has been pushing the UAE not to attack the port, more recently the signs are that the US intends to have its military participate in the attack itself.
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