On Oct. 14, the Shiite Houthi rebels who have posed a challenge to Yemen’s central government made sweeping military gains in the country, seizing the significant port city of Hodeidah on the Red Sea coast as well as the central city of Dhamar. These gains come less than a month after the Houthi’s swift seizure of Sana’a on Sept. 22 following days of massive protests in the capital.

Arabic media sources claimed that the Houthi rebels took over the coastal city of Hodeidah without any resistance from the Yemeni authorities. Hodeidah, located abot 220 kilometers west of Sana’a, is the fourth largest city in the country as well as a strategically significant port city on the Red Sea. The city is also home to the country’s largest oil refinery. Some Arabic sources speculated that the takeover of Hodeidah strengthens suspicions that the rebels are in need of a port city presumably to ensure access to more weapons and supplies.

The takeover reportedly began the previous day, on Oct. 13, when Houthi fighters wearing military uniforms began spreading out into the city and its surrounding areas. By Oct. 14, Houthi fighters could be seen consolidating their power along all of the main roads in the city. The rebels also managed to seize control of the city’s airport and main military base and were seen concentrating their forces in these vital locations. Some reports also suggested that the Houthis besieged an ammunition storage facility close to the city and captured it prior to launching their advance. […]