Oil tanker arrives Hodeida as north Yemen lacks fuel

Sana'a (Debriefer)
2019-10-09 | Since 8 Month

Hodeida port, file

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An oil tanker has arrived at the Yemeni western port of Hodeida, the Houthi group said Wednesday.

The vessel arrived Wednesday at the Red Sea port of Hodeida with 951,000 tons of gasoline and 11,800 tons of diesel onboard, the Houthi-run Yemeni Petroleum Company (YPC) said, "after the ship had been detained by the [Saudi-led] aggression coalition for 55 days."

The Arab coalition and Yemeni internationally-recognized government are still detaining other nine tankers carrying more than 93,000 tons of petrol and 123,000 tons of diesel, the YPC claimed in a statement.

The arrived fuel shipment cannot meet local needs for more than two days in normal circumstances, it added on Facebook.

The tanker was released following "diplomatic efforts by the Houthi foreign ministry, in coordination with different international parties and the UN," the statement read.

Yemen has been racked by a 4.5-year bloody conflict between the internationally-recognized Yemeni government's forces, backed by a Saudi-led coalition, and the Iranian-backed Houthi rebels who ousted the government in 2014.

The conflict has triggered what the UN calls the world's worst humanitarian crisis, with most of the population in need for a type of humanitarian aid and immediate protection.

Houthis have repeatedly accused the Saudi-led coalition and Yemeni government of deliberately seizing tens of oil tankers and "denying them access to Hodeida port to further sufferings" of Yemenis.

On 5 October, Houthi authorities warned against complications if northern provinces under their control run out of oil derivatives.

In letters to the United Nations, Houthi FM Hisham Sharaf has accused "some of thwarting good efforts to end aggression on Yemen," calling the coalition to "show goodwill and immediately release oil tankers."

The official government has blamed the rebels for the fuel shortage in Houthi-held areas, since "the group has forced oil suppliers to breach the legitimate government's instructions and controls governing the oil trade."

The official government-run Economic Committee (EC) issued Decree 75 of 2018, banning the importation of any oil shipment not approved by the Aden-based Central Bank of Yemen, warning that such shipments would be denied access by coalition.

The decree aims to have funds transferred through the internationally-standardized banking system, as part of efforts combating terrorism and money laundry and stabilizing the local currency.

The EC also issued Decree 49 of 2019 to boost the State's revenues and "improve the humanitarian situation."

The EC has successfully applied the decree, in terms of collecting tax and customs duties and other legal returns imposed on all oil imports at all Yemeni freed ports, the EC claimed, accusing the Houthis of refusing the decree and, thus, causing fuel shortages.

Houthis have threatened suppliers with strict measures if applying the EC-developed mechanism, and already arrested some traders, to "resume the entry of Iranian oil," according to government officials.

Late last September, the EC accused the Houthi group of trying to minimize oil traders' share of the market in favor of loyalists.

The rebels generate up to 130% profits out of direct trade in fuel bought from "nationalistic" traders, the EC said then in a release. "For this reason the group try to lessen these suppliers' share in the market."

The actual price of oil derivatives makes up 44 percent of that paid by citizens to buy oil from Houthis who collect most of the [56%] difference to boost their influence centers and, still, refuse to pay civil servant salaries, the release added.

Earlier, the Committee accused the group of "politically trading in the people's sufferings, to boost its revenues and build its economic networks through arbitrary measures" and "newly-erected customs posts."

A UN panel tasked with monitoring of sanctions on Yemen said last January, in its 2018 report, that Houthis received at least US$ 300 million a year in revenues of fuel shipped from Iran's ports to fund their war against the Saudi-backed official government of Hadi.

The rebels also collect annually some US$ 740 million in the form of revenues from firms and permit fees from communication, tobacco and other companies, according to the report.

Fees imposed on fuel imports through Hodeida port provide the Iranian-backed group with no less than US$ 300 million, in addition to revenues from fuel sold at black market, the panel said noting that the Houthis had several resources including customs levies collected at rebel-held Red Sea ports and Dhamar City.

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