A Saudi-led coalition of Arab fighters reportedly used Apache helicopter gunships and carriers to bomb Iran-backed Houthi fighters who had taken shelter at an airport in Hodeidah, Yemen, on Monday in an attempt to push the rebels to leave the city and “save the population” of civilians there.
According to Reuters, “The Western-backed Arab alliance launched an onslaught on Hodeidah six days ago to turn the tables in a long-stalemated, proxy war between Saudi Arabia and Iran that has compounded instability across the Middle East.”
The Houthis had gained control of the port city in 2015. The Houthis have reportedly denied Iran’s influence on them.
Reuters noted that UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash told a news conference in Dubai that there are approximately 3,000 Houthi fighters in Hodeidah. If the Iran-backed rebel group loses Hodeidah, it will deal a severe blow to their stronghold in the nation’s capital city, Sanaa, and their direct control over supply lines from the Red Sea to Sanaa.
The airborne attacks from the coalition came several days after the Trump administration announced the United States was considering providing military assistance in Yemen, specifically to capture Hodeidah from the Houthi rebels.
In response to Saudi- and Western-led airborne attacks on the Houthis, meant to “coax” them out of the civilian bastion, the Houthis reportedly increased their missile attacks on Saudi cities. On Saturday, the Houthis reportedly fired a “projectile” into Saudi Arabia, killing three civilians.
Without mentioning them by name, Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani suggested the Saudi-led coalition and Arab efforts to push the Iran-backed Houthi rebel group out of Sanaa would prove fruitless.
“We regard as incorrect the adventurous policies of certain regional countries and believe that the continuation of this process will undoubtedly intensify the existing regional crisis,” Rouhani warned in a Monday phone call with Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, according to Reuters.
Instead, Rouhani reportedly suggested, “The crisis in Yemen should be resolved through political channels. … A military approach will fail. … Yemen’s stability and security is important for the Middle East.”
Yemen plays a major role in the proxy war between Shia-majority Iran and Sunni-majority Saudi Arabia.