Yemeni Army targets Houthis’ smuggling routes

Escalation is an indicator of the failure of international efforts to resume settlement talks between the Yemeni factions.
Sunday 08/04/2018
A ship unloads a cargo of wheat at the Red Sea port of Hodeida, on April 1

SANA'A - With Iran-allied Houthi rebels upgrading their military capabilities despite a UN-sponsored arms embargo, the Yemeni Army and the Saudi-led coalition fighting in support of the internationally recognised government have had to reassess their strategies.
Military sources stressed that Yemeni Brigadier-General Tariq Mohammed Saleh joining with the military forces en route to the Yemeni west coast is aimed at liberating the strategic city of Hodeidah. It serves as the Houthi rebels’ main sources of arms, receiving missiles and weapons allegedly smuggled from Iran at the country’s second largest port.
In addition to the liberation of the port, sources indicated that the Yemeni National Army had opened an offensive in Bayda province in central Yemen to increase pressure on the Houthis on multiple fronts.
The Yemeni Army’s intentions are to reach the main route linking Bayda, Dhamar and Sana’a governorates in the south, which could help disperse the Houthi militia and cut off its supply routes. The military sources said the Iran-sponsored militia would then be forced to withdraw towards the southern city of Reda.
The Yemeni Army, with the support of the Arab coalition forces, has increased military pressure in recent weeks, achieving several victories on volatile fronts east of Taiz.
Yemeni analysts said the military escalation by both sides of the conflict is an indicator of the failure of international efforts to resume settlement talks between the Yemeni factions.
Yemeni analyst Faris al-Bel said that, despite the military manoeuvring, the resolution of the 3-year-old conflict would not necessarily be a military one.
Searching for international support, Saudi Arabia asked the UN Security Council to put Hodeidah under international supervision, echoing a similar request from the internationally recognised Yemeni government a day earlier on April 4.
The coalition had previously requested that the United Nations supervise Hodeidah port because of instances of arms smuggling. The request was rejected by the United Nations and was followed by a warning not to engage in military offensives on the port because of its importance for aid delivery in a country with a dire humanitarian situation.
Despite the international outcry over their March 25 ballistic missile attack on Saudi Arabia, the Houthis continued targeting the kingdom with their upgraded military capabilities. The Iran-allied militia’s choice of targets has included facilities belonging to Saudi Aramco in the south-western province of Jizan.
A statement from Saudi officials said the kingdom’s air defence system intercepted the missile and that the Aramco facilities were operating “normally and safely.”
Coalition spokesman Colonel Turki al-Malki announced that coalition forces detected the launch pads used by the Houthis, which are believed to be in Saada and Amran.
Malki also said that 107 missiles and more than 66,000 projectiles have been launched at Saudi territory. He said the Saudi air defence system responded to all of them “strongly and assertively.”