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The Disastrous War on Yemen Continues

Michael Horton’s analysis of the war on Yemen is excellent as always. Here he addresses the plan to assault the port of Hodeidah:

Even with U.S. assistance, the invasion will be costly and ineffective. The terrain to the east of Hodeidah is comprised of some of the most forbidding mountainous terrain in the world. The mountains, caves, and deep canyons are ideal for guerrilla warfare that would wear down even the finest and best disciplined military. The most capable units of what was the Yemeni Army and the Houthis themselves will inflict heavy losses on those forces that try to take Hodeidah and then, if necessary, move up into the mountains.

The Saudi effort in Yemen hinges on the invasion of Hodeidah. The reasoning behind the invasion is that without Hodeidah and its port — where supplies trickle through — the Houthis and their allies, along with millions of civilians, can be starved into submission.

While there is little doubt that thousands more Yemeni civilians will face starvation, the invasion of Hodeidah will not end the war — far from it. The Houthis and their allies are resourceful and will fight on for months — if not years — to come. They will also intensify their retaliatory cross-border attacks on Saudi Arabia, which the Saudi army is incapable of stopping. Rather than end the war, the planned invasion will intensify it across all fronts.

Obviously the U.S. shouldn’t participate in what is very likely to be a costly debacle, and it should do everything possible to discourage the Saudis from launching an attack on the port. Not only would the attack potentially imperil the lives of millions of civilians by pushing many parts of the country into full-blown famine, but it likely wouldn’t produce the results the Saudi government wants anyway. Like the rest of the war on Yemen, it would be a senseless, cruel move that would only raise the costs for everyone involved.

Despite Saudi delusions to the contrary, they cannot win this war, and the U.S. ought to be pressing coalition governments to halt their campaign and pursue a negotiated settlement. At the same time, the coalition needs to be pressured to lift the blockade, and emergency efforts need to be made to raise the necessary funds and to deliver critical aid to those suffering from malnutrition and disease. Regrettably, I have no confidence that the current administration will do any of these things, and after last week’s display in Riyadh I fear that the Trump administration is only too willing to increase support for this disastrous war.

about the author

Daniel Larison is a senior editor at TAC, where he also keeps a solo blog. He has been published in the New York Times Book Review, Dallas Morning News, World Politics Review, Politico Magazine, Orthodox Life, Front Porch Republic, The American Scene, and Culture11, and was a columnist for The Week. He holds a PhD in history from the University of Chicago, and resides in Lancaster, PA. Follow him on Twitter.

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