The U.S. Must Leverage Influence to Halt Assault In Yemen

| Emile Nakhleh
Emile Nakhleh
Former Member, CIA's Senior Intelligence Service


The Arab Coalition’s on-going bloody attack on Yemen’s critical port city of Hodeidah, with Washington’s acquiescence, will only deepen the humanitarian tragedy of the Yemeni people.

The Saudi-UAE attack is part of the coalition’s continuing military effort, again with American assistance, to topple the Houthi regime and restore the government of President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, who fled the country nearly four years ago.

The action, dubbed by the Saudis as “Operation Golden Victory,” involves a relatively large force, using both air and sea bombardment. The bombardment from the air and the sea is bound to force thousands out of their homes, creating a massive internal refugee disaster–on top of the existing humanitarian crisis that plagues Yemen.

The attack on Hodeidah is particularly painful because it serves as a major port through which food supplies and humanitarian aid are delivered to needy Yemenis.  It also lies at the mouth of Bad al-Mandab connecting the Arabia Sea and the Red Sea. It is a major international strategic waterway and one of three in the Middle East. The other two being the Strait of Hormuz and the Suez Canal.

If food and humanitarian supplies are interrupted, Yemen–a country already on the verge of starvation and total drought due to a lack of food and fresh water–will collapse.  Hundreds and potentially thousands will die from starvation, thirst, and disease.

It’s ironic that Saudi Arabia, which presents itself as the guardian of Islam’s two holiest mosques, launches such an attack during Ramadan, a Muslim holy month during which the faithful are enjoined from engaging in war. Unless, of course, the Saudis do not consider the Houthis as true Muslims because of their Shia faith.

If the Trump administration wants to maintain any credibility in the region, it should work diligently to stop the attack.  It is foolish to believe that the attack on the port city will lead to the collapse of the Houthi regime in Sana’a or to bringing the Houthis and Iran to the negotiating table.  The U.S. should not be consciously standing on the sidelines of the Saudi-Emirati barbarism in Yemen, especially when its own regional and national interests are not being threatened.


The Author is Emile Nakhleh

Emile Nakhleh is a retired CIA Senior Intelligence Service Officer and founding director of the CIA’s Political Islam Strategic Analysis Program Office. Nakhleh is currently a Research Professor and Director of the Global and National Security Policy Institute at the University of New Mexico. Since retiring from the government in 2006, he has consulted on national security issues, particularly Islamic radicalization, terrorism and the Arab states of the Middle East. Nakhleh holds a... Read More

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One Reply to “The U.S. Must Leverage Influence to Halt Assault In Yemen”
  1. The problem that is being overlooked here is that any supplies sent in to the people who are starving is also feeding the rebels. It is much better to risk a few thousand people now than to allow the war to continue raging on, and potentially cause the death of many more in the long run.