Yemen’s Civil War Heats Up

Forces in Yemen under the government of Abdul Mansour Hadi fully conquered the port city of Mokha on January 23. Mokha is an important sea-port along the coast of the Red Sea that was the historic center of Yemen’s coffee trade, giving beans from the area the name “Mocha.”The fall of the city is one of the biggest recent developments in the ongoing civil war that has pitted Houthi rebel forces from the northwest highlands against a mixed alliance of government loyalists, Southern Yemen separatists, and tribal groups backed by the combined air and sea forces of a coalition of countries led by Saudi Arabia. The Houthis have enjoyed success due to their battle-hardened fighters as well as support from Iran and forces loyal to former president Ali Abdullah Saleh. Loyalist commanders are now planning on advancing up the western coast of Yemen to the large Red Sea port city of Hodeida. This would effectively surround the Houthis, who still occupy the capital of Sanaa, and would thus be a precursor to retaking the capital and forcing the Houthis back into the northwestern mountains. However, these military successes have come at a cost. Amnesty International estimates almost 4,000 civilians have been killed in the course of the war. The United Nations also reported that almost 7.3 million people are in need of emergency food aid and that the country needs two billion dollars in emergency funds to prevent an oncoming famine. Despite these cries for reconciliation, President Hadi has refused to continue talks to create a government of national accord.