A Saudi-led coalition geared up on Tuesday for a military assault on Yemen’s main port, preparing to launch by far the biggest battle of a three-year war between an alliance of Arab states and the Houthi movement that controls Yemen’s capital. The United Arab Emirates, a member of the Western-backed alliance, set a Tuesday deadline for the Iran-aligned Houthis to withdraw from the port of Hodeidah under UN-led talks.
“These are the last and final hours to get unconditional guarantees that the Houthis will leave the port,” UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash told Reuters, but declined to discuss military operations.
“If the current situation continues we will have a stalemate politically,” he said. “The last thing we want is to prolong the war in Yemen.”
It would be the first time since the foreign armies joined the war in 2015 on behalf of Yemen’s exiled government that they have attempted to capture such a well-defended major city.
Hodeidah, Yemen’s biggest Red Sea port and the only one under Houthi control, serves as the lifeline for the majority of Yemen’s population, which lives in Houthi territory.
The United Nations said it was engaged in “intense” shuttle diplomacy between the Houthis, Saudi Arabia and the UAE to avert the attack, which it fears could exacerbate the world’s most urgent humanitarian crisis. It estimates that 600,000 people live in t...