World, Middle East

Yemen party urges anti-Houthi ‘intifada’ in Al-Hudeidah

Al-Islah Party issues appeal as government forces continue to register gains in strategic coastal province

16.06.2018
Yemen party urges anti-Houthi ‘intifada’ in Al-Hudeidah FILE PHOTO

By Ali Aweida

MAARIB, Yemen

The Al-Islah Party on Saturday urged its members in Yemen’s coastal Al-Hudeidah province to stage an “intifada” (“uprising”) against Shia Houthi rebels.

Since last week, the strategic Red Sea province has seen fierce fighting between the rebels and the Yemeni army backed by a Saudi-led military coalition.

In a statement, the Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated party called on “all the sons of Al-Hudeidah, especially Al-Islah members, to rise up against Houthi domination and welcome the [Yemeni] army as liberating heroes”.

Al-Islah, which is loyal to Yemen’s internationally-recognized government (currently based in the coastal city of Aden), also praised the “heroic role being played by our Arab allies led by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates”.

The Yemeni army now stands seven kilometers from the center of Al-Hudeidah city after reportedly capturing Al-Hudeidah’s international airport -- located south of the city center -- earlier Friday.

Earlier this week, Yemeni forces and the Saudi-led coalition launched a major operation aimed at retaking Al-Hudeidah -- along with its strategic seaport -- from the Houthis, who captured the province in 2014.

The Aden-based government and its Saudi-led allies accuse the Houthis of using the port to import weapons from Iran.

Last week, the UN warned that a major assault on Al-Hudeidah by the Saudi-led coalition could adversely affect as many as 250,000 people.

“Humanitarian agencies in Yemen are deeply worried by the likely impact of a possible military assault on… Al-Hudeidah,” Lise Grande, the UN’s humanitarian coordinator in Yemen, said in a statement released last Friday.

Impoverished Yemen has remained wracked by turmoil since 2014, when the Houthis and their allies overran much of the country, including capital Sanaa.

The conflict escalated in 2015 when Saudi Arabia and its Sunni-Arab allies -- who accuse the Houthis of serving as proxies for Shia Iran -- launched a massive air campaign in Yemen aimed at rolling back Houthi gains.

The following year, UN-sponsored peace talks in Kuwait failed to end the destructive conflict.

The ongoing violence has devastated the country’s infrastructure, including water and sanitation systems, prompting the UN to describe the situation as “one of the worst humanitarian disasters of modern times”.

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