Houthis Threaten to Escalate Conflict in Hodeidah

Houthi militias threatened on Saturday to blow up the situation in Hodeidah as the group intensified attacks against vital sites and government-controlled positions east and south of the city. 

The insurgents' defense minister, Mohammed al-Atefi, warned government forces, saying, “Our combat readiness is higher than ever and we possess strong deterrent, defensive, and offensive options.”

He said there would be surprises and an effective force to be used in the coming days and in a timely manner.

Observers in Yemen assume that militias have lately received new types of missiles from Iran. 

They said Iranian weapons were smuggled to Hodeidah and the western Yemeni shores, where Houthis still control a large part of land overlooking the Red Sea, including the ports of Hodeidah, Saleef, and Ras Issa.

Meanwhile, Yemen’s Minister of Information Muammar al-Eryani posted on his Twitter page a video showing a large fire at the Thabet's Brothers factories east of Hodeidah, which is controlled by government forces. 

He said the fire was caused by Houthi bombs.

Eryani warned that the legitimate government in Yemen has lost its patience and called on UN envoy Martin Griffiths, and head of UN monitoring mission Lieutenant-General Michael Lollesgaard to take a clear position on the militias’ insistence on a flare-up in Hodeidah and on violating the truce. 

Last week, Houthis informed UN officials in Sanaa they contended to maintain security presence in Hodeidah and its ports, refusing to surrender to the legitimate government or end their security and administrative presence in the city.

Griffths is holding talks with warring parties in a last-ditch effort to save a ceasefire agreement reached in Sweden last December between the government and Houthis, after both sides agreed on a preliminary compromise for redeploying forces from the port city of Hodeidah.