The siege of Hodeidah: Washington doubles down on its war crime in Yemen

7 November 2018

One of the bloodiest events in what constitutes the world’s largest ongoing war crime is beginning to unfold in Hodeidah, the Red Sea port that serves as the principal lifeline for food, fuel and medicine upon which at least 70 percent of Yemen’s impoverished and starving population depend for survival.

The Saudi-led coalition that has waged a devastating war against Yemen’s population for the past three and a half years reports that it has mobilized some 30,000 troops to surround the city. These include Emirati and Sudanese regulars, Al Qaeda militiamen and Yemeni mercenaries, all being massed on Hodeidah’s outskirts.

The city is being subjected to non-stop bombardment from both the air and sea, with the aid group Save the Children reporting that its staff counted some 100 airstrikes just over the weekend, a five-fold increase compared to the first week in October.

Among the latest civilian victims of this onslaught are two people killed and 24 wounded in a strike on a residential neighborhood, a worker left dead and five other wounded in the bombing of a Yemeni factory, a young girl wounded in an artillery attack on a mosque and five inmates injured in the bombing of Hodeidah’s central prison.

The bombings have come ever closer to the Al Thawra hospital, the last functioning medical facility treating children on the brink of death from malnutrition. It has made it impossible for those seeking aid to reach the hospital, and there is growing concern that it will be targeted, as have the majority of hospitals and clinics throughout Yemen.

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Some 570,000 people in the port of Hodeidah and the surrounding province of the same name have been turned into homeless refugees, often fleeing bombardments and violence with nothing but the clothes on their backs.

That the renewed siege has the blessing of Washington is indisputable. The massing of troops, the naval blockade and the endless bombing would all be impossible without the close collaboration of the Pentagon, which supplies aerial refueling for Saudi bombers, naval support for the stranglehold over access to Hodeidah from the sea and even intelligence assistance for selecting targets in the port city.

Yet the escalation of the siege comes just one week after extensive reports in the US media of US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and US Defense Secretary Gen. James Mattis calling for a “ceasefire” in Yemen and indicating a 30-day deadline for the resumption of peace talks.

Even as the siege of Hodeidah was building, the New York Times published a hypocritical November 5 editorial titled “End Yemen’s Agony”, praising Pompeo and Mattis for having “urged all sides to stop the killing” and proclaiming that “the secretaries have taken a first step.”

Events on the ground make it abundantly clear that this is all nonsense, a cover-up for continuing and intensifying slaughter that is reaching a near-genocidal scale.

Urging “all sides to stop the killing,” as if the US-backed Saudi-led coalition and its victims are equally responsible for the mass murder in Yemen, is designed only to create an alibi for war crimes.

According to the latest estimate by the Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project, some 56,000 Yemenis have died since the US-backed Saudi assault began in 2016. Together with the deaths in the first nine months of the war, the death toll is thought to be between 70,000 and 80,000, the vast majority of them caused by Saudi bombs and missiles.

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