The Saudi-led coalition fighting in the Yemen’s civil war killed dozens of Houthi fighters and cut one of their main supply routes in an offensive northwest of Yemen’s third largest city of Taiz. It could be a major advance for the Western-backed coalition forces in almost 3 years of deadly conflict. The coalition consolidated gains that were made in December at Khoukha on the Red Sea where the biggest advances had been made.
The Houthis hold the capital Sanaa and much of the northern part of the country where most of the Yemeni population lives. The pro-Iranian fighters toppled the internationally recognized government of President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi in 2015 in 2014. The civil war is generally considered a proxy war between regional rivals Saudi Arabia and Iran. It has displaced more than 2 million people, caused a cholera epidemic, brought about famine and caused the biggest humanitarian catastrophe in the world. The protracted conflict has so far claimed at least 10,000 lives.
In response to the involvement of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in the Yemeni conflict – as part of the Saudi-led coalition – Norway has suspended exports or ammunition and weapons to the country over concerns that they could be used in the conflict. Despite the lack of evidence that Norwegian ammunition has been used in Yemen, the Norwegian parliament and several human rights groups have for long been campaigning to halt arms exports to the UAE.
The decision, which was made in mid-December, was not announced until this week. Existing exports permits had been revoked and no new licenses would be issued. In 2016, Norwegian exports of weapons and ammunition to the UAE went up to 79 million Norwegian crowns ($9.7 million) from 41 million in the previous year.