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News > Yemen

Yemeni Houthis Start Port Withdrawal According to UN Agreement

  • A view of the fishing port of Hodeidah, Yemen April 17, 2019.

    A view of the fishing port of Hodeidah, Yemen April 17, 2019. | Photo: Reuters

Published 11 May 2019

The Saudi-backed Yemeni government did not state whether their side would make a reciprocal move toward peace.

The Houthi rebels of Yemen have begun Saturday to retreat from two strategic ports on the Red Sea coast, in the west of the country, based on an agreement with the internationally recognized government and under the supervision of United Nations, sources of the insurgents informed today.

Yemen: Houthis Agree to Hand Over 3 Major Ports to Government

Television Al Masira announced the withdrawal began Saturday in the ports of Salif and Ras Issa, under the supervision of two UN teams.

Meanwhile, a source from the local administration under the Houti leadership confirmed to EFE that rebels handed over control of the two seaports to the Coast Guard, also affiliated with the Shia movement.

The source, who was present at the time of withdrawal but requested anonymity, explained that "Huti fighters without uniforms retired on board several pick-up vehicles after Coast Guard personnel deployed in the two ports."

The statement from the U.N.'s Redeployment Coordination Committee (RCC) said the Houthis would make an "initial unilateral redeployment" between May 11 and May 14 from the ports of Salif, which is used for grain, and Ras Isa, used for oil, as well as the country's main port of Hodeidah.

A displaced girl, who fled from fighting in Taiz, is seen during the holy month of Ramadan in a slum on the outskirts of Sanaa. | SOURCE: Reuters

Leader of the Houthis' Supreme Revolutionary Committee, Mohammed Ali al-Houthi, said on Twitter Saturday that the May 11 at 10 a.m.

The RCC committee, led by Danish Lieutenant General Michael Lollesgaard, head of the U.N. observer team in Hodeidah, drew up the redeployment plans under a pact agreed upon last December in Stockholm, Sweden,

The Houthis and the government of Yemen first agreed - during U.N.-brokered peace talks in Sweden in December, to withdraw troops by Jan. 7 from Hodeidah under a truce aimed at ending the four-year war.

It was hoped the redeployment would happen in January, but its implementation has repeatedly stalled on a lack of trust between the combatants: the Iran-aligned Houthis and a Saudi Arabia-coalition, which the U.S. supplies and supports, that is protecting the Yemeni government and other forces.

Al-Houthi Saturday said his group's intention to unilaterally redeploy from the ports was a result of the coalition's refusal to implement the Stockholm Agreement.

The U.N. mission will monitor the redeployment, a first step towards concluding the peace agreement, the U.N. statement said, adding that it must be followed by "the committed, transparent and sustained actions of the parties to fully deliver on their obligations."

The redeployment should allow the United Nations to take "a leading role in supporting the Red Sea Ports Corporation in managing the ports" and to enhance U.N. checks on cargoes.

Trump Vetoes Yemen War Powers Resolution, Says It 'Weakens' His Authority

They are also expected to leave positions around the outskirts of Hodeidah in the initial redeployment, before a second phase in which both sides pull back further.

Humanitarian officials have long pleaded with Yemen's warring sides to spare Hodeidah, a lifeline for the crippled economy, dependent on the World Food Programme's biggest aid operation to feed more than 10 million people.

The Sunni Muslim coalition led by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates say the Houthis use the ports to smuggle weapons. The Iran-aligned Houthis say the government would try to choke them off if it gained control.

The United States Congress recently voted on a resolution for the nation to stop supporting the Saudis in the war they involved themselves in, but it was vetoed by President Donald Trump. 

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