The coalition offensive on Hodeida – a key port and a lifeline for Houthis and civilians alike – is codenamed ‘Operation Golden Victory’

But the Saudi ground forces are too weak to stand up to the Houthis in Yemen, and their allies and proxies all have their own goals in mind – making the capture of the key port of Hodeida a strategic snarl, experts say.

That is why the Saudis have been relying on air strikes so much – a problematic tool in itself, leading to massive civilian suffering. But with the help of US military satellite surveillance, it’s one tool the Houthis have no real countermeasure for.

However, one coalition member, apart from Saudi Arabia, that has a palpable stake in Hodeida, is the United Arab Emirates. Having the port will allow the UAE to secure a powerful naval presence in the region.

The UAE has a goal of its own and want to turn all ports in Yemen into their military bases. They’ve already taken Mukalla and Aden, they’ve created bases on the isles of Socotra and Perim.

The last port not under their control is Hodeida,” says Kirill Semyonov, the director of the Center of Islamic Studies at the Institute of Innovative Development.

The UAE have a much more effective ground force than Saudi Arabia, but they’ve not been as prominent in the fight against Houthis, as they’d taken a detour to beat back Al-Qaeda forces in the region.

Now that they are fully committed to taking Hodeida, they’ve hogged the entire operation. Moving on the city from the north, the Saudis got blocked at the approach.

While the Emiratis, approaching from the south, have had considerably more success, gradually taking Hodeida block-by-block, with the help of battle hardened Colombian Army mercenary guerrilla soldiers. / ABC Flash Point Arab News 2018.

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