Yemen lies beside the southern mouth of the Red Sea, one of the world’s most important trade routes, where oil tankers pass from the Middle East through the Suez Canal to Europe.
Hudaydah, 140km (90 miles) west of the capital Sanaa, was Yemen's fourth-largest city and a major economic hub
The city's deep-water port was one of Yemen's biggest and most important, handling more than half of the country's dry cargo imports.
To the east is the fertile Tihama plain, Yemen's most important agricultural area.
original image included with BBC article - I'd saved it!
Arab warplanes and warships pounded Houthi fortifications to support ground operations by foreign and Yemeni troops massed south of the port of Hodeidah in operation “Golden Victory”.
The assault marks the first time the Arab states have tried to capture such a heavily-defended major city since they joined the war three years ago against the Iran-aligned Houthis, who control the capital Sanaa and most of the populated areas.
The Houthis had deployed military vehicles and troops in the city centre and near the port, as coalition warplanes flew overhead striking a coastal strip to the south, one resident, speaking on condition of anonymity, told Reuters. People were fleeing by routes out to the north and west.
The United Nations fears the assault could drastically worsen already desperate conditions in the region’s poorest country. The city and surrounding area are home to 600,000 people, and the port is the main route for food and aid to reach most Yemenis, 8.4 million of whom are on the verge of famine.
Port workers told Reuters five ships were docked at Hodeidah port unloading goods, but no new entry permits would be issued on Wednesday due to the fighting. The Arab states say they will try to keep the port running and can ease the crisis once they seize it by lifting import restrictions they have imposed.
Western countries, particularly the United States and Britain, have quietly backed the Arab states diplomatically and sell them billions of dollars a year in arms, but have mostly avoided direct public involvement so far in the Yemen conflict. A major battle could test that support, especially if many civilians are killed or supplies disrupted.As stated yesterday the US and Britain have been involved from the get go in destabilizing Yemen. Sure it's been off the radar, but, so what? They have been, are and will continue to be involved.
“The liberation of the port is the start of the fall of the Houthi militia and will secure marine shipping in the Bab al-Mandab strait and cut off the hands of Iran, which has long drowned Yemen in weapons that shed precious Yemeni blood,” the Arab-backed government-in-exile said in a statement.Bab al Mandab is an "chokepoint" I've talked about this area as far back as 2009
Across from Yemen is Somalia.. Black hawk down and Pirates
January 11, 2010: The Yemen Hidden Agenda: A Strategic Oil Transit Chokepoint
Houthi leader Mohammed Ali Al-Houthi, who has threatened attacks on oil tankers, warned the alliance not to attack the port and said on Twitter his forces had struck a coalition barge. There was no immediate confirmation from the coalition.Cut throats, mercs and soldiers of fortunes- Killers can always be bought
The Arab states’ aim is to box in the Houthis in Sanaa, cut their supply lines and force them to the negotiating table.
A Yemeni anti-Houthi military official said the alliance had brought to bear a 21,000-strong force. It includes Emirati and Sudanese troops as well as Yemenis, drawn from southern separatists, local Red Sea coast fighters and a battalion led by a nephew of late ex-president Ali Abdullah Saleh.