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Griffiths Confronted with Houthi Intransigence as Militias Threaten ‘Painful’ Measures

Griffiths Confronted with Houthi Intransigence as Militias Threaten ‘Painful’ Measures

Tuesday, 7 May, 2019 - 06:00
UN envoy Martin Griffiths in Sanaa. (AFP file photo)
Sanaa - Asharq Al-Awsat
UN envoy to Yemen Martin Griffiths’ truce efforts suffered a new disappointment as the Iran-backed Houthi militias continued to refuse to implement the Sweden deal and redeploy from the Hodeidah province, informed political sources in Sanaa said Monday.

“Houthi leader (Abdul Malek al-Houthi) told Griffiths that he agrees to implement the first phase of the redeployment plan in the two ports of Ras Isa and Saleef on condition that the Houthis are allowed to keep their militias in control of security and administrative affairs there,” the sources added.

Griffiths has traveled to Houthi-held Sanaa on Sunday to meet with militia leaders with hopes to overcome obstacles set by the Houthis in the implementation of the deal, particularly items related to the redeployment of forces in Hodeidah and its three ports.

According to the same sources, al-Houthi linked implementing the Sweden agreement to new conditions, including a request to allow his group use the Sanaa airport and transport the body of Houthi former interior minister Abdul Hakim al-Maori from Beirut onboard a UN plane.

He also asked the envoy to facilitate the group’s selling of oil stored in the Safer tanker in Ras Isa and to annul a decision by the legitimate government to limit illegal oil trade in Yemen.

In a statement published Monday by Houthi-owned media outlets, militia spokesman Mohammed Abdulsalam said al-Houthi discussed with Griffiths “a number of ideas that might help move the Sweden agreement forward, in addition to a number of humanitarian issues, stressing the importance of facilitating the return of al-Maori’s body from Beirut to Yemen.”

Sources said that before meeting with al-Houthi, Griffiths held talks with several leaders, including president of the self-proclaimed Houthi Supreme Political Council Mahdi al-Mashat, Speaker of the illegitimate government Yahya Ali al-Raee and head of the insurgents' government Abdulaziz bin Habtoor.

The sources said that Mashat threatened to prevent Griffiths and all UN employees from reaching Sanaa through the airport if Houthi leaders are not allowed to use it for international flights.

He also threatened to blow up the Safer tanker, a floating oil storage located about eight kilometers off the coast of Ras Isa terminal in the Red Sea, if the legitimate government continues to prevent smuggled Iranian oil from reaching Hodeidah port, the same sources said.

“There are painful choices and steps that can be taken if coalition states do not remove their aggressive economic measures,” they quoted Mashat as saying.

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