The liberation of Dhubab, the Yemeni port on the Bab Al Mandab straits, is an important breakthrough in the war against Al Houthi rebels who are based in the north of the country but continue to occupy a large part of the rest of the country. Al Houthis have valued their access to whichever seaports they have been able to occupy so that they can import military supplies and as many essentials as they are able to. Dhubab is on Yemen’s Red Sea coast, south of Hodaida, with access to Taiz and has been useful to Al Houthis in their efforts to break the coalition blockade and maintain supplies.
Therefore the Saudi-led coalition should be justifiably pleased with their success in retaking Dhubab. The military action was conducted by the Yemeni national army, backed by Popular Resistance forces and coalition forces which included a significant number of UAE armed forces. The UAE has played a leading role in the struggle against Al Houthis, and has also taken an important part in training the Yemeni armed forces which is now paying off with their continuing successes. Its prominent role in the success in Dhubab is another example of the UAE’s exceptional effort to support the coalition which has been the case right from the start.
Dhubab lies at the south end of Yemen’s long coastal plain, which runs north through Mocha to Hodaida, with Jazan further north again. The liberation of Dhubab opens the interesting possibility of Yemeni and coalition forces driving north along the coast, increasingly depriving Al Houthis of access to the sea and their Iranian sponsors outside Yemen, who need the sea to be able to reach their clients. In addition, as the most southerly port on the Yemen Red Sea coast, capturing Dhubab was an important part of the coalition’s work to protect navigation in the Bab Al Mandab, which is a vital corridor for large amounts of global trade that were threatened by the Al Houthi presence.
But the main impact will be to disrupt a major military supply route through which Al Houthis received their military supplies from Iran, which has an active programme of seeking to foment dissension and chaos wherever it can in the Arab world. In the past year, the Iranians have delivered more and more of their weapons for Al Houthis via Somali middlemen, who took the military supplies across the Red Sea to ports in Yemen controlled by Al Houthis.