1 thought on “Yemen: Hodeida hots up”

  1. We thank James Spencer for his comment on our posting of 6 July:
    On a point of order, Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi is not the “lawful President”; his transitional term of 2 years lapsed on 21 Mar 14. Hadi is habitually – if inaccurately (given the large numbers in the field against him) – described by the Sa’udi-led Coalition as the “legitimate President”. The West – rather more bashfully – describe Hadi as the “internationally-recognised President”. Hadi’s term of office was “extended” for 1 year by the NDC [National Dialogue Conference] , which had no constitutional authority to do so. (The Majlis al-Nuwwab is the only body able to do so, or to accept the President’s resignation – as Hadi noted when he retracted his resignation.) The point of such seeming pedantry is that – either way – it is doubtful whether ARM Hadi still had the legal authority to invite any external forces into Yemen when he made the call on 24 Mar 15 ….
    The faxed “WBIED” piece is a CAR report, which can be found here; http://www.conflictarm.com/download-file/?report_id=2550&file_id=2564 Much of the information in the report is derived from UAE sources …
    I’m not sure what “the only outside member of the coalition which actually provided troops” means: does “outside” mean the “peripheral” Arab states? The nationalities of the casualties in the Sep 15 [tactical ballistic missile] TOCHKA strike (https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-34163982) near Ma’rib show which Arab countries initially provided troops on the ground in Yemen. (After that incident, many seem to have withdrawn their forces.) Qatar also sent a BG+ [Battle Group+] (https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-34173544) which was expelled when the blockade of Qatar began; and the Sa’udis have a special forces group. Subsequently, the Emirati “foreign legion” (probably not, legally, mercenaries) were deployed to back-fill withdrawn Emiratis, especially in Ta’iz. The Sudanese (possibly Janjawid (https://www.africaintelligence.com/ion/corridors-of-power/2017/03/24/janjaweed-fight-for-gulf-states-in-yemen,108227395-art)) seem to have been deployed in Yemen subsequently – possibly relieving the UAE Colombians – both in the South and the North, where they have indeed sustained high casualty figures. This has caused concern at home (https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20180430-pressure-mounts-for-sudan-to-withdraw-troops-from-yemen/)
    The French special forces reported in Hudaydah (https://www.dailysabah.com/mideast/2018/06/16/french-troops-fighting-houthis-in-yemen-alongside-uae-forces-le-figaro-claims) are probably from Cdo Hubert, and are probably there as FOO / FAC / NGS support (possibly even laser-painting targets) to reduce collateral damage as much as possible. They may also have swum against the port to recce it for assault. There has also been some reporting of US special forces assisting the coalition in anti-Huthi ops https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/us-politics/us-special-forces-saudi-arabia-yemen-war-green-berets-houthi-rebels-mohammed-bin-salman-a8335481.html (as well as counter terrorism operations against IS and AQAP.) The Pakistanis have provided forces in KSA, ostensibly to defend the Haramayn, but reportedly to block Huthis raids deeper into KSA than the 20km depopulated zone. The Senegalese also provided a brigade for similar reasons (https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-32589561).
    In regards to HB / IRGC, it is highly likely that the Huthis will have requested their advice on OBUA [operations in built-up areas]. There has been reporting of defences being prepared, including tunnels and trenches; that’s not classic qabili tactics. Strategically, the Huthis will probably want to make the Sa’udi-led Coalition “own” the problem of Hudaydah, a la Pottery Barn Rule (https://www.nytimes.com/2004/10/17/magazine/if-you-break-it.html) The Huthis’ / Iranians’ intent will be to make the attack a strategic defeat, or a Pyrrhic victory for the Coalition. If the Coalition win, they will have broken (or been helped to break) the sea port of arrival for 70% of the food going into the mountains; and they will have achieved little of strategic military or economic value. If the Coalition lose, they will be shamed domestically, and castigated internationally, probably with strategic consequences. Either way, they will still have the steep mountain passes (not good armoured terrain) to come to get up to Sana’a.

Comments are closed.

Scroll to Top

Access provided by the Bodleian Libraries of the University of Oxford