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Yemen Govt. Hopeful to Save Sweden Deal Despite Houthi Obstruction

Yemen Govt. Hopeful to Save Sweden Deal Despite Houthi Obstruction

Wednesday, 30 January, 2019 - 09:15
A street vendor sells vegetables in the Red Sea port city of Hodeidah, Yemen, June 14, 2018. (Reuters)
Jeddah - Saeed al-Abyad
Despite the ongoing intransigence of the Iran-backed Houthi militias, the Yemeni legitimate government expressed its hope that the Sweden ceasefire agreement on Hodeidah could be saved, said government spokesman Rajeh Badi.

UN Special Envoy to Yemen Martin Griffiths had recently arrived to the strategic Red Sea port city.

The warring parties had agreed to the Hodeidah truce in December and it went into effect soon after. It calls for the withdrawal of all forces from the city's three ports and holding a prisoner exchange.

Badi told Asharq Al-Awsat that the Houthi militias were still amassing fighters, digging trenches and deploying reinforcements to Hodeidah’s vicinity, adding that it signals hidden intentions for war not peace.

“Houthi violations are ongoing and escalating, to the point where they are targeting refugee camps,” he stressed.

He expressed hope for Griffiths’ efforts in Hodeidah yielding in success, but noted that for that to happen, more pressure needs to be placed on the militias to solicit compliance.

The Houthis have consistently failed to honor international agreements, making it difficult to expect them to react differently to Griffiths’ efforts this time.

As part of efforts to salvage the Stockholm agreement, the Yemeni national army deployed military reinforcements, including Special Forces units, to Hajjah and Saada battlefronts, in a move designed to accelerate military advances against Houthi-controlled cities and add more pressure on the group.

The reinforcements are supported by Saudi-led Arab coalition air raids that actively target militia pockets, depots and command centers.

“The national army will complete operations swiftly, with the logistical and military support --which includes medium and heavy weapons and minesweepers-- provided by coalition forces at the northern Saada battlefront will contribute greatly to the eventual liberation of those areas,” Brigadier General Abdo Majali told Asharq Al-Awsat.

“The army is advancing rapidly and striking targets, employing multiple military tactics. This has helped attack militia ranks, which collapsed after dozens fled their posts,” he added.

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