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Yemen sets chaotic backdrop for Trump’s Saudi visit

By Reuters - May 18,2017 - Last updated at May 18,2017

A woman and her children, displaced by the war in northwestern Yemen, are photographed next to their makeshift hut on the pavement of a street in the Red Sea port city of Hodeidah, Yemen, on Monday (Reuters photo)

ADEN/DUBAI — Young men mangled in an explosion cling to life, motionless amid the chaos of a crowded hospital in Yemen's main southern city of Aden. 

Having bandaged them, doctor Ahmed Al Garba shoves past fighters with rifles dangling at their sides and moves on to other patients.

"We treat soldiers with war wounds from bullets and bombs, even Al Qaeda fighters. We don't ask people who they fight for when we treat them," Garba said.

Such scenes are repeated daily in Gumhuriya Hospital, evidence of a stalemated and increasingly messy war that offers no clear path to victory for Gulf Arab states hosting US President Donald Trump this weekend.

The mostly Gulf Arab coalition, led by Saudi Arabia and backed by US arms and intelligence, has waged a nearly two-year-old campaign on behalf of Yemen's internationally recognised government, which the Houthi movement — allied with Saudi's arch-foe Iran — is battling to dislodge.

Trump has signalled a tough new line on Tehran by choosing Riyadh for his first visit abroad.

Meanwhile, the hospital scenes of children shrivelled by hunger and men writhing from shrapnel wounds suggest the cost of the war in terms of human suffering is growing.

More than 10,000 people have died, 19 of the country's 28 million people need some form of aid, famine looms and the breakdown of the health system sparked a cholera outbreak that has killed nearly 200 people in less than three weeks.

Washington is considering stepping up the non-lethal support, such as intelligence, it already offers the coalition in Yemen, US officials have said.

But a US raid on Al Qaeda authorised by Trump in January which led to the death of a Navy SEAL and up to 12 civilians may have curbed his taste for further interventions, and Gulf Arab allies may for now be contented with the mere expression of continued US approval of the war effort.

"At this point they may not be looking for any bigger US military role... Just not complaining or pressuring them to wrap the war up would be the kind of thing Trump is likely to do and the Gulf states want," said Farea Al Muslimi, an analyst at the Sanaa Centre for Strategic Studies.

 

Militiamen and gunmen roam the streets of Aden, where the writ of President Abdu-Rabbu Mansour Hadi holds less authority than ever.

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