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Children playing in Aden, Yemen
Children playing in Aden, Yemen Photo: Copyright Maria de la Guardia


PortandTerminal.com, August 11, 2019

Yemen’s Houthi rebels killed at least 40 people in a missile-and-drone attack Thursday on the government-controlled port city of Aden. Pulverised by airstrikes and tank shells, Yemen’s port city is back in Houthi control.


ADEN, YEMEN – An airstrike launched by the Houthi faction in Yemen on Thursday killed at least 40 people, including a senior Yemeni military commander, at a parade in the city of Aden, officials said.

In a separate attack in the city, a suicide bomber drove a truck full of explosives into a police station, killing at least 11 people. The carnage and suffering in Yemen show no sign of abating.

An airstrike launched by the Houthi faction in Yemen on Thursday killed at least 40 people, including a senior Yemeni military commander, at a parade in the city of Aden

Yemen has the unfortunate distinction of being both the poorest country in the Arab region and the home to the world’s worst humanitarian crisis. We used to think that distinction belonged to Syria. It doesn’t. Yemen is far worse.

Through it all though, the Port of Aden in Yemen has continued to operate, providing a critical link for the aid and trade that manages to still reach the impoverished country.

This first part of the two-part story is about the complicated politics in the world’s most volatile region. The second part of the story is all about how one port, The Port of Aden, has managed to keep working throughout a vicious and deadly civil war.

Backstory: Why is Yemen in such a mess?

After the Arab Spring toppled dictators across the Middle East in 2011, Yemenis decided that they wanted political change too. The country’s President, Ali Abdullah Saleh, was forced to hand over power to his deputy, Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi in November 2011. Pay attention to these two names. They’ll come up a lot in this article.

Saleh vs Hadi.

Saleh was forced to hand over power in the wake of the Arab Spring regional uprising in 2011.

The change was for the worse.

The political transition to Hadi failed and lead to massive unemployment, food insecurity, suicide bombings and a separatist movement in the south of the country.

Things spiralled out of control and sparked a deadly civil war in Yemen that continues to this day.

On one side of the civil war are the Houthis, a political rebel group loyal to former president Saleh. They’re backed by Iran.

On the other side of the civil war are the forces loyal to the Hadi government. He’s backed by Saudi Arabia.

By 2014, Houthi forces (Iran) had taken over Yemen’s capital Sana’a. Things were looking up.


Emboldened by success, in 2015 the Houthis tried to take over the entire country. The failed leader Hadi was forced to flee to neighboring country Saudi Arabia.

Saudi Arabia supports Hadi and joins the fight in Yemen

Saudi Arabia considered the Houthi’s actions an immediate threat to their security. That’s because the Houthi’s are aligned and funded by Iran.

As of November 2018, 6,872 civilians had been killed and 10,768 wounded, the majority by Saudi Arabia-led coalition airstrikes, according to the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR). The actual civilian casualties are likely much higher. Thousands more have been displaced by the fighting and millions suffer from shortages of food and medical care.

Saudi Arabia hates Iran. The case for full out war was an easy one to make for the Saudis. Crush the Houthi’s and you stop Iran from getting a foothold on Saudi Arabia’s border.

It’s at this point where things get very ugly.

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