The Magical Thinking Behind An Attack On Hudaydah

YPP Director of Policy & Advocacy Eric Eikenberry has an op-ed on LobeLog today about the many flaws with the coalition's plan to capture Hudaydah, and with the arguments put forth by the coalition's apologists in Washington.

Over the last several days, the Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post have independently reported that the Trump administration is softening on a potential United Arab Emirates-led assault on Hudaydah, Yemen’s largest port and a major logistics hub for the international response to the world’s worst humanitarian crisis. International humanitarian NGOsUN agencies, and even the US government have repeatedly stated that an attack on Hudaydah could seriously deepen the crisis, precipitating a long-warned-of famine, displacing hundreds of thousands of people, and leading to unconscionable human casualties from direct fighting in and around the city.

To justify the U.S. volte face, anonymous officials are internally promoting a distressingly cavalier line of reasoning:

“We have folks who are frustrated and ready to say: ‘Let’s do this. We’ve been flirting with this for a long time. Something needs to change the dynamic, and if we help the Emiratis do it better, this could be good,’” the senior U.S. official said.

The logic of “this could be good” has been informed, in part, by the steady pressure of its allies in the Saudi-led coalition supplemented by arguments from their supporters in DC. These arguments sing the expected paeans to UAE military capacity and downplay the immediate costs of any attack. More importantly, they promote a magical strategic thinking, in which a successful recapturing of the port, no matter how bloody or drawn out, will lead directly to Houthi rebel capitulation, a negotiated peace, and a significant easing of the humanitarian crisis.

The steps between “attack Hudaydah” and “peace,” however, are less than clear. Moreover, this magical thinking fails to grapple not only with the offensive’s extraordinary immediate risks but its long-term strategic pitfalls as well.

Read the full article on LobeLog