Saudi-backed Yemeni forces have advanced closer to the northern port city of Hodeidah, the main aid port for the northern half of the country. The port is controlled by the Shi’ite Houthi movement, and the Saudi-led forces intend to seize it.
For now, the advancing forces have seized a pair of main roads leading into the city, effectively cutting off the Houthis’ supply line into the city. This also limits the ability of transporting humanitarian aid out of the city.
As the fight over the city drags on, this is increasingly concerning. Hodeidah is the sole source of food for millions in northern Yemen, and the offensive means very little aid is getting out. If the city falls entirely, the aid is likely to stop.
This is why the UN has been pushing for a deal to stop the fighting over Hodeidah. The UN offered to take control of the city just to keep aid flowing, though the pro-Saudi side has rejected the proposal, saying they want the Houthis to unconditionally surrender.
While Saudi coalition officials deny the push against Hodeidah is intended to use aid access as a weapon of war, it is clear that the strategy is to dramatically weaken the Houthis’ position by cutting off their last source of aid.