A UN proposal for the joint control of a key port in Yemen by the government and rebels could be a big step to bring about peace in a war-torn country.
The United Nations proposed that Houthi rebel fighters and the UN-backed government share control of the Yemeni port city of Hodeidah, under its supervision.
In the context of the peace talks held in Sweden, the international body offered to supervise the joint control of the key port and hopes the parties will cooperate with the agreement, as 80 percent of aid to the country flows through there and it is currently compromised by the fighting.
As part of this effort, Martin Griffiths, the UN special envoy for Yemen, is working on developing a “package” deal which also includes ending Saudi Arabia’s blockade of the Sana airport, as well as “international flights, humanitarian access in Hodeidha and Yemen’s third city, Taiz, a mass prisoner release programme and economic reforms to shore up the Yemeni currency,” according to The Guardian.
The rebels position is that the city should become a neutral zone, according to Reuters.
It is not clear to what extent the government is willing to allow the UN presence in Hodeidah, but it seems that anything beyond “monitoring” is not welcome.
First, the government demands exclusive authority over Hodeidah, “We call on Houthis to withdraw from Hodeidah and hand over their weapons to the government,” stated Ali Ashall, interior minister.
Additionally, the deputy foreign minister, Hussein al-Ezzi supports UN supervision of the port, “We have accepted that the United Nations play a supervisory role to ensure both that arms are not imported and resources are transferred to the Central Bank of Sana’a with the aim of paying salaries.”
However, the Yemeni government rejects any form of long-term UN presence, including “boots on the ground” and anything which might lead to a reduction of sovereign control of Yemen.
New rounds of peace talks are scheduled to take place in 2019, in an effort to seek a long-term political settlement which could help end the war which has created one of the worst humanitarian crisis in history.