Hodeidah and the Saudi Coalition’s Deliberate Starvation of Yemen
Patrick Cockburn explains what the Trump administration’s support for the attack on Hodeidah will do to Yemen:
The US is encouraging the UAE and its allies to take Hodeidah to break the deadlock, by tightening encirclement of the Houthis. But this is a long way from taking Sanaa and forcing the Houthis to surrender.
What the Hodeidah operation may do is turn a humanitarian disaster, which the UN is already calling the worst humanitarian crisis in the world, into complete catastrophe. Three quarters of the 27 million Yemenis already require aid to survive and this may be cut off in the next few days as the fighting moves into Hodeidah and closes the port.
The Trump administration has occasionally paid lip service to the humanitarian crisis in Yemen, but in practice it has increased support for the bombing campaign, deflected attention away from Saudi coalition crimes, and desperately sought to blame anyone but the coalition for the suffering of Yemen’s population. The U.S., Britain, and France all bear responsibility for enabling and indulging the coalition, and that now extends to supporting an assault that everyone understands will be a nightmare and a death sentence for hundreds of thousands and possibly millions of innocent civilians. The Saudi coalition is in the process of committing what is likely to be one the largest crimes against humanity in decades, and it is doing so with U.S. approval and assistance.
The effect that the assault will have on the population even if it is successful will be horrific:
Even if the assault on Hodeidah is a military success, he said, it will be devastating to Yemeni civilians.
“When you place a frontline directly between a port and the population it serves, it effectively cuts off that population,” Konyndyk said. In Aden, those consequences were less extreme because most Yemenis weren’t entirely dependent on it. “But if Hodeidah is cut off, there is no backup option. Food will run out, fuel to support water systems and aid operations will run out, and people will begin dying in large numbers.”
The Saudi coalition has wrecked and starved Yemen for over three years with Washington’s assistance and encouragement, and it now threatens to cause massive loss of life that could end up being measured in the millions. More than eight million are already on the brink of famine primarily because of the coalition blockade, and this assault promises to shove many of them into the abyss.
This is the deliberate, knowing starvation of a civilian population in a desperate attempt to advance an unjustified, aggressive military campaign. It may no be too late to halt the offensive, but if Congress is going to force the issue with the administration it has to do it immediately. If Congress can’t or won’t do something to stop this attack, the U.S. will remain a knowing accomplice in one of the most appalling crimes of our time.