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This Yemeni city risks becoming the next Aleppo: The Guardain

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April,30 \NewNews

Maged Al-Madhaji

My life in Yemen is dominated by fear. As director of the Sana’a Center for Strategic Studies, and one of the few remaining independent voices in Yemen, I have been detained, seen colleagues assassinated, and buried friends killed by Saudi airstrikes. Now, half of my country faces famine.

Even as Defense Secretary James Mattis calls for a political solution to the war in Yemen, he has not warned Saudi Arabia and the UAE against taking the critical Yemeni port city of Houdeidah, which is currently controlled by Houthi forces. Although debated within US policy-making circles, attacking Houdeidah would be a catastrophic error because it would expand the war and deepen the humanitarian crisis. It would allow al-Qaida and IsIs to expand their influence in Yemen’s coastal areas. For the United States, that would amount to a strategic defeat.

The low likelihood of military success would surely come at great humanitarian cost. Houdeidah’s port is Yemen’s lifeline, receiving approximately 80% of the aid that keeps its war-weary population alive. An attack would cause more civilian deaths and displacement, and further reduce access to food, safe drinking water, and medical care. Women and children would be hit hardest. Houdeidah would become Yemen’s Aleppo.

The United States could pave the way for a realistic political solution, not a hopeless military one, by using its leverage to revive UN talks. Adopting confidence building measures, releasing political prisoners, and implanting a ceasefire would put the interests of both Americans and Yemenis first.

 

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