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UN to Propose New Plan on Yemen’s Hodeidah

UN to Propose New Plan on Yemen’s Hodeidah

Wednesday, 20 March, 2019 - 06:30
United Nations envoy to Yemen Martin Griffiths. (AFP)
New York, Riyadh – Asharq Al-Awsat
United Nations envoy to Yemen Martin Griffiths revealed that the international organization will propose a new plan for the withdrawal of forces from the port city of Hodeidah.

Griffiths has held a series of talks with the legitimate government and Iran-backed Houthi militias.

The redeployment of forces was agreed in December under a ceasefire deal reached in Sweden that offered the best hope in years of moving toward an end to the war that has pushed Yemen to the brink of famine.

"Following constructive discussions with both parties, there is significant progress towards an agreement to implement phase one of the redeployments of the Hodeidah agreement," said a statement from Griffiths.

"Operational details will be presented to the parties in the Redeployment Coordination Committee (RCC) for endorsement shortly," he added.

The RCC, chaired by Danish General Michael Lollesgaard, was set up under the Stockholm deal to bring the government and Houthis to the table to hammer out details of the ceasefire deal.

The UN envoy's statement did not give a date for the start of the pullback, which would mark the first concrete step towards de-escalation in Hodeidah.

Griffiths said he "looks forward to the swift endorsement of the plan" and expressed hope that a deal would pave the way to a broader political settlement to end the war.

The United Nations announced a deal on the two-stage pullback from Hodeidah city and its Ras Issa and Salif ports on February 17, but the redeployment failed to materialize on the ground and the peace effort appeared to run out of steam.

According to UN diplomats, the Houthis have refused to pull away from the ports as part of the first stage.

Griffiths and Lollesgaard have been holding talks with all sides to overcome the final hurdles, but the UN sounded a cautious note about the latest developments.

Yemeni Vice President Ali Mohammed al-Ahmar said that the international community’s failure to exert pressure on the Houthis encouraged them to undermine international agreements and shirk the implementation of the Sweden deal.

On the other hand, “the legitimate government’s positive approach to UN peace efforts led to the Sweden agreement, starting with the Hodeidah deal, which the Houthis have rejected,” he said after talks in Riyadh with China’s Ambassador to Yemen Kang Yong.

Indirectly referring to military action, Yemeni Information Minister Moammar al-Eryani stressed that experience has shown that “there can be no solution to the crisis without regaining state authority from the terrorist militias.”

“The militias’ continued reneging on agreements and flagrant defiance of the people’s will and international resolutions confirm that they will not submit to peace and that they are bent on pursuing their agenda in service of their Iranian backers,” he remarked.

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