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US Debating Whether To Expand Military Presence In Yemen

As if the US hasn’t already done enough to exacerbate the humanitarian crisis raging in Yemen, the Wall Street Journal  reported Monday that the Trump Administration is considering a request by the United Arab Emirates for “direct US support” as a coalition of Sunni majority nations prepares to seize the country’s biggest port, known as Hodeidah.

WSJ

According to WSJ, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has requested an evaluation of the Sunni coalition’s plan to retake control of the port. And with good reason: That’s because some 90% of the imported goods including foodstuffs, medicine and other vital supplies flow into Yemen through the port. Already, the country is under an extreme humanitarian crisis, and cutting off the flow of supplies through the port could make it infinitely worse.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has asked for a quick assessment of the UAE’s plea for assistance such as surveillance drone flights to help a Saudi-led coalition retake Hodeidah, which currently serves as a vital lifeline for the country’s 29 million residents, U.S. officials said.

U.A.E. and Saudi Arabian officials have assured the U.S. that they won’t try to seize the Red Sea port until they get backing from Washington, American officials said. But there is growing concern in the Trump administration that fighting around the city could spiral out of control and force Washington’s hand. Yemeni fighters backed by the coalition are battling Houthis near the city.

“We continue to have a lot of concerns about a Hodeidah operation,” said one senior U.S. official. “We are not 100% comfortable that, even if the coalition did launch an attack, that they would be able to do it cleanly and avoid a catastrophic incident.”

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