A Yemeni anti-Houthi military official said the alliance had brought to bear a 21,000-strong force. Joost Hiltermann, the program director for Middle East and North Africa at the International Crisis Group: “Do the Emiratis think they can defeat the Houthis in Yemen? … Do they think they can defeat the Houthis in the Hodeidah Province, including the city and the port? They seem to think so, but it may be a bridge too far. … You need to go back to the negotiating table.”
Yemeni forces allied to the Saudi-led coalition — drawn from southern separatists, local units from the Red Sea coastal plain and a battalion led by a nephew of late former president Ali Abdullah Saleh — had advanced and were “at the doors” of Hodeidah airport. Hundreds of Yemeni fighters as well as tanks and military supplies from the UAE arrived on June 11 to reinforce troops, including Emiratis and Sudanese, in al-Durayhmi, a rural area 10 km (6.21 miles) south of Hodeidah. The coalition says one of the main justifications for its intervention is to protect Red Sea shipping, which brings Middle East oil and Asian goods to Europe through the Suez Canal. Emirati-led troops are now 10 km (6 miles) south of Hodeidah, and in Bayt al-Faqih, 35 km from the city, local military sources said. Coalition warplanes and warships launched strikes targeting the Houthis.