Hudaydah: The Search for Updates and Implications

Here on the Just Atonement blog we attempt to circle back to previous commentary and we constantly look for connections between global events and our personal mission. A few weeks ago, we discussed the perilous situation unfolding in and around the Yemeni port city of Hudaydah, the only significant point of entry and exit for humanitarian relief and for those entering or fleeing a country torn apart by years of ongoing civil war.

At our last update, the situation in Hudaydah had become untenable, and had been classified by the U.N. as the worst current humanitarian crisis in the world. The city, held by Iranian-backed Houthi rebels, was under siege by Saudi and UAE-backed troops who were receiving active support from the US military.

A violent strike on the city in an attempt to target Houthi militants had entered the final planning stages, with world leaders, including the US, imploring the Saudi Arabia and the UAE to change course before endangering the lives of millions of civilians and tipping the country further into full scale famine. The US, while not refusing to participate in planned air strikes, attempted to negotiate by threatening a scale-down of certain forms of support, including refueling efforts.

The world held its breath, and then the news cycle moved on.

US reporting turned back to our own country’s ongoing political crisis, new reports of Russian meddling in our election process, and the unending series of blunders and criminal investigations plaguing the current administration.

But what happened in Yemen? And will US uncertainty about the Iran nuclear deal impact what happens next?

The feared and anticipated assault on the port city is now underway, but related events are moving forward in ways that not easy to predict, observe or report. As of this past week, the most heated areas of fighting have been centered around the Yemeni airport, which has now changed hands. The airport is no longer under the control of the Houthi and has been overtaken by the Yemeni military and its Saudi and UAE backers.  

In the meantime, the fight for the airport has claimed approximately 280 lives, and the fate of civilians trapped in the port city is more uncertain than ever.

At some point in the future, a possible negotiated settlement may involve offering and financing an autonomous Houthi area in northern Yemen. But unfortunately, current discussions of a peaceful solution have focused on less on negotiations and more on total disarmament of the Houthis. A settlement-focused UN resolution is not yet on the table. (And as recently as this weekend, our own deeply troubled administration has been ramping up threats to Iran via twitter).  

Meanwhile, it’s important for all of us to bear in mind that a humanitarian event this vast in scope will have far reaching consequences, even if the current twists and turns of the conflict are difficult to discern and analyze. In other words, these events are hard to follow, but their disappearance from the news cycle will not reduce their seismic impact on the world community.

Please read this short review in International Policy Digest to better understand the current state of Yemen and its implications for the global landscape.