Politics, Middle East

UK 'no peace mediator': Yemen rebels

UK foreign secretary called for Houthi withdrawal from Al-Hudaydah

Mohamed al-Samei   | 04.03.2019
UK 'no peace mediator': Yemen rebels

SANAA

The Houthi rebel group said Monday it does not consider the UK a mediator in peace talks in war-battered Yemen.

This came one day after UK Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt called for a Houthi withdrawal from Al-Hudayday seaport and hand it over to "neutral control".

"We don't see the British statements surprising or strange; they back the aggression [Yemeni government and Saudi-led international coalition]," Houthi spokesman Mohamed Abdelsalam said in a statement shared on Facebook.

He said UN-brokered peace talks in Sweden did not disclose details on the "presence of neutral sides" either in Al-Hudaydah's seaport or any other areas.

On Sunday, Hunt warned that if the commitments by both sides in the Yemen conflict were not fulfilled, the peace process "could be dead in weeks".

“The port of Hodeidah [Al-Hudaydah] was supposed to be cleared of militia and left under neutral control by the beginning of January,” he said, referring to a port providing entry for nearly 80 percent of Yemen’s food imports.

“The process could be dead within weeks if we do not see both sides sticking to their commitments in Stockholm.”

In December, Yemeni government representatives and Houthi rebel leaders held a round of UN-brokered talks in Sweden, which yielded a cease-fire agreement in the Red Sea province.

Neither of the warring parties, however, have yet to fully withdraw from Al-Hudaydah amid tit-for-tat accusations of truce violations and sporadic clashes in other parts of the country.

Yemen has been beset by violence and chaos since 2014, when Houthi rebels overran much of the country, including Sanaa. The crisis escalated in 2015 when a Saudi-led military coalition launched a devastating air campaign aimed at rolling back Houthi territorial gains.

Since then, tens of thousands of Yemenis, including numerous civilians, are believed to have been killed in the conflict, while another 14 million are now at risk of starvation, according to the UN.

Writing by Mahmoud Barakat

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