Saudi-led forces launch as­sault to re­cap­ture key port in Ye­men

Richmond Times-Dispatch - - NATION&WORLD2 -

DUBAI, United Arab Emi­rates — The Saudi-led coali­tion back­ing the ex­iled Ye­meni govern­ment launched a fierce as­sault Wed­nes­day on the cru­cial port of Hodeida, the big­gest of­fen­sive of the years-long war on the main en­try point for food in a coun­try al­ready tee­ter­ing on the brink of famine.

The at­tack aimed to drive out Ira­nian-aligned Shi­ite rebels known as Houthis, who have held Hodeida since 2015. But it could set off pro­longed street bat­tles that in­flict heavy ca­su­al­ties. The fear is that a pro­tracted fight could shut down Hodeida’s port at a time when a halt in aid risks tip­ping mil­lions into star­va­tion. Seventy per­cent of Ye­men’s food en­ters via the port.

Four Emi­rati sol­diers were killed in Wed­nes­day’s as­sault, the United Arab Emi­rates’ state-run news agency said, but gave no de­tails of how they died.

Aid groups warned of dis­as­ter. Robert Mar­dini, the re­gional direc­tor for the Red Cross, said the push on Hodeida “is likely to ex­ac­er­bate an al­ready cat­a­strophic hu­man­i­tar­ian sit­u­a­tion in Ye­men.”

The White House says Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s Mideast ne­go­ti­at­ing team will visit the re­gion next week as it fi­nal­izes its as-yet undis­closed Is­raeli-Pales­tinian peace plan and will hold talks on de­te­ri­o­rat­ing con­di­tions in the Gaza Strip. The trip will come as of­fi­cials say the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion is near com­ple­tion of the plan with an eye on a pos­si­ble re­lease this sum­mer.

The Na­tional Se­cu­rity Coun­cil said Wed­nes­day that the team will dis­cuss “the next stages of the peace ef­fort” and get ideas from re­gional lead­ers about “re­main­ing ques­tions the White House peace team has.”

No stop in Pales­tinian ter­ri­to­ries is planned, al­though the NSC said the itin­er­ary may be ex­panded.

The U.N. Gen­eral As­sem­bly has ap­proved a Pales­tinian-backed res­o­lu­tion blam­ing Is­rael for vi­o­lence in Gaza after nar­rowly re­ject­ing a U.S. de­mand to add an amend­ment con­demn­ing at­tacks on Is­rael by Gaza’s Ha­mas rulers.

The U.S. amend­ment was ap­proved by a vote of 62-58 with 42 ab­sten­tions. Gen­eral As­sem­bly Pres­i­dent Miroslav La­j­cak de­clared that un­der U.N. rules a two-thirds vote was needed so the amend­ment failed. The as­sem­bly then voted on the Pales­tinian-backed res­o­lu­tion, which passed 120-8 with 45 ab­sten­tions.

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