Assault on Hodeida

Summary: Two full weeks into the attack, the more pessimistic scenarios are looking increasingly likely; President Hadi’s relations with the UAE improve after a meeting with MBZ; other important developments go unnoticed.

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5 thoughts on “Assault on Hodeida”

  1. It’s interesting that a June 28 report https://www.thenational.ae/world/mena/un-envoy-hopes-hodeidah-agreement-can-be-precursor-to-peace-in-yemen-1.744970 in the Abu Dhabi-based the National refers to action on Wednesday south of Hodeida by “Yemeni forces”, though it goes on to refer to a Wam report of action by “coalition-backed forces”. There is also reference to action in Hadhramaut by the Barasheed Brigade – that’s a Yemeni (Hadhrami) name originally but could also be Saudi or UAE. All this suggests to me that even a top Abu Dhabi newspaper doesn’t know the answer.

  2. Saudi opposition and also Kuwaiti sources (Kuwait is a belligerent as well as a mediator) report that mercenaries come to fight in Yemen from various countries including Nepal, Colombia and the USA. Erik Prince (reportedly nicknamed “Rommel”) supervises all of the mercenary activity and he reports directly to MBZ (“Alexander the Great”). After arriving in the UAE the mercs are reportedly being sent to the Negev desert in Israel for 3-4 weeks training by Israeli forces before going to Yemen. There are no Saudi soldiers fighting on the frontline inside Yemen. Colombians get $500 a month.
    I have also heard stories from Saudi opposition sources that Israel is testing new weapons in Yemen, cluster bombs, phosphorous-based weapons and drones. They are said to be transported to the front by the Saudi military and to be deployed by Saudi and UAE planes.
    When MBZ met Putin at the end of May he is said to have asked him to persuade the Huthis to allow the Emiratis and Saudis to claim at least a “media victory”. Putin had the Russian ambassador speak to Muhammad Ali Al Huthi but he refused.
    Qatar is rumoured now to be supporting the Huthis and to have already purchased the S400 missile defence system, although this was denied on Al Jazeera recently by the Qatari Foreign Minister.
    See this 20 June article for more on UAE mercenaries in Yemen – https://www.alaraby.co.uk/english/comment/2018/6/20/the-uae-in-yemen-with-help-from-its-mercs

  3. 1 Amaliqa forces: one element of the ‘resistance’ are southern salafis i.e. all Yemenis, whose commitment to the cause may be questionable insofar as this movement, associated with the STC [Southern Transitional Council] until recently claimed that ‘liberating the north was not their business’ but they are now participating actively and ‘obeying’ UAE instructions. The STC leader Al Zubaidi has recently visited the front.
    2. Tareq Saleh’s ‘Guards of the Republic’, a conglomerate of Saleh loyalists, from the various former Saleh elite forces, Republican Guards, Special Forces, Central Security etc…. all Yemenis, mostly from the central highlands
    3. The Tihama resistance, local Tihamis, mostly Zaraniq tribe, trained by the UAE for the last two years.
    4. UAE forces are mainly the Sudanese troops, recently confirmed to stay. They probably number at least 1000, there are said to be overall more than 3000 in Yemen, but some are with the UAE here and others are with Saudis on the border.
    Note that recently UAE media have started referring to the ‘combined’ resistance which would include Tareq Saleh’s ‘Guards of the Republic’ whereas before they only referred to ‘UAE-backed forces’ and focused reports on the Amaliqa and Tihami resistance. It is worth noting that the lack of coordination between these three elements is allowing the Huthis to get behind the lines and capture plenty of brand new vehicles and other military equipment.
    The Amaliqa currently involved are NOT the same Amaliqa as in the past, which were, as the commentator with a military background says ‘official’ and well trained state troops connected with the Saleh regime. These are ‘new’ and rather less organised salafis from the south, and more like bits of the ‘security belts’ and ‘elite’ outfits the UAE have been training and supporting in the south in recent years, i.e. salafis ‘led’ by the likes of Hani bin Breik and others connected with Dammaj and other salafi outfits in past decade. As for numbers, it would be good to have some accurate ones. The previous commentator’s are significantly lower than those mentioned elsewhere.
    Le Figaro had something last week about French special forces in Yemen, but no evidence known to support this, other than Macron offering/promising some demining support from France.
    Reuters on Le Figaro article: https://www.reuters.com/article/us-yemen-security-france/french-special-forces-on-the-ground-in-yemen-le-figaro-idUSKBN1JC099

  4. I am not entirely up to date but I understood that the attacking forces was about 1,500 from the UAE, and the Yemeni Force consisted of a group of local Tribes to Hodeidah and a mish mash of remnants of Salah’s armed forces. The former are mainly the Tihama Resistance local to the Hodeidah area, the latter are the Al Amalika Brigades which really is a re-built Yemen military with UAE help and they come mainly from Lahj and Aden areas as well as the Guardians of the Republic led by Saleh’s nephew, Tariq Saleh. These are the remnants of the Republican Guard and include elements of the old Special Forces and anti-terrorist brigades of Saleh’s Army.
    I reckon that the Houthi number about 1,000.
    At the outset, the coalition contributions were a mix of aircraft and troops, but Pakistan produced naval support and the US ‘interfered’ from time to time. From the top of my head I think Morocco, Jordan, Sudan, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, UAE all chipped in in one way or another, but the only troops I can remember being committed were UAE of course, and about a battalion of Sudanese who lurked around Aden which was increased. They have had a lot of casualties. The ‘mercenaries’ referred to probably are US Private Contractors for Academi, formerly Blackwater and Xe Services. The contractors are a true mercenary mix and probably number 1.500-1,800 troops.

  5. It would be interesting to know the ethnic composition of the forces attacking Hodeida. How many are really Emiratis or Saudis? How many are mercenaries? Can mercenaries really be trusted to attack an enemy which may be smaller but has the advantage of being in defence?

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