Fresh fighting broke out in a key port in Yemen yesterday, breaking a fragile cease-fire and threatening to complicate a troop withdrawal agreement intended to pave the way for wider peace talks, according to reports.
Hodeidah port on the Western coast of Yemen “is a lifeline for millions of Yemenis threatened by starvation because of the war as it is the main entry point for food imports and aid,” Reuters notes, and is strategically important for both sides in the ongoing war. Reuters reports that both sides confirmed that fighting had broken out there.
The fighting is on the heels of new and growing regional tensions brewing between Iran, which supports the Houthi rebels, and Saudi Arabia, which supports the U.N.-recognized government of Yemen. Two suspicious attacks in three days on Saudi oil installations raise the possibility that Iran and its proxies are attempting to hobble Saudi Arabia’s oil exports after new U.S. sanctions, aimed at Iran’s oil industry, take force.
The Houthi withdrawal from Hodeidah and two other Red Sea ports just began on Saturday, “and was the most significant advance yet in efforts to end the four-year-old war, according to Reuters. “The United Nations said on Tuesday the ports had been handed over to a coast guard and the pullout was going as planned. But both sides reported renewed clashes on Wednesday.”