Yemeni official FM: Stockholm deal not includes unilateral withdrawal

Hodeida (Debriefer)
2019-05-12 | Since 3 Month

Picture posted by UK FM for UN staff in Hodeida port

اضغط هنا لقراءة الخبر بالعربية

Stockholm deal on Hodeida does not include unilateral withdrawal by any party, said the Yemeni official foreign minister in reply to the UN and Houthi announcement that the rebels started redeployment in Hodeida three ports.

The triple mechanism adopted for the Redeployment Coordination Committee (RCC) means that the government, UN and Houthis should verify any withdrawal, FM Khaled al-Yamani told the Saudi Asharq Al-Awsat paper.

"Even if our troops carry out any withdrawal, Houthi representatives in the tri-sided RCC have the right to verify that withdrawal," he added.

"If the current withdrawals are part of later withdrawals, we will judge matters after their occurrence," said Yamani, noting that his government "doesn't accept any unilateral measure that is not subject to monitoring criteria stated in UNSC Resolutions 2451 and 2452."

If not monitored and approved by RCC, Houthi withdrawal "will be in violation of what has been agreed on throughout last months .. and will destroy the international community's efforts, providing free service for Houthi militias to repeat the [previous] farce," FM argued.

"Stockholm Agreement is, in terms of its legal content, a mechanism to build trust and lay foundation for comprehensive political talks," he added. "If Houthis fails to work with international community and Yemeni government, and to leave Hodeida and its ports, how can we believe that they are the decision-maker and not directed by Iran?"

Earlier on Saturday, Houthis said their forces begun withdrawal from the ports of Salif and Ras Isa in the Red Sea Yemeni governorate of Hodeida, under supervision by UN three teams, in application of the UN-brokered peace deal reached by rivals in Sweden last December, according to the Sana'a-based Saba.

Withdrawal by 5 kilometers from Hodeida ports has started on time, the Houthi-appointed Hodeida acting governor Mohamed Quhaim told reporters, noting that the ports were handed over to Houthi interior ministry.

Yemen has been racked by a 4-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.

Parties to the 4-year war in Yemen, after 8-day peace talks in Sweden, reached on the 13th of last December an agreement providing for ceasefire in Hodeida and redeployment of both sides' forces, exchanging prisoners and alleviating blockade imposed by Houthis on Taiz.

But none of this has taken place so far, with both sides trading blames for trying to thwart the deal.

The Red Sea city of Hodeida and its ports have been under Houthi control since late 2014, while Yemeni joint forces loyal to legitimate government and Arab coalition have massed at the city's fringes since last November seeking to retake the strategic port.

On Friday, the United Nations said Houthi group has agreed to unilaterally withdraw from the Hodeida three ports during 11 to 14 May, in preparation for UN leading role in managing the ports.

Separately, the British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt has posted on his Twitter account pictures, which he said encouraging signs of the world's worst humanitarian crisis, with reports saying Houthis have started (UN-supervised) withdrawal from the Yemeni ports of Hodeida, Salif and Ras Isa.

Yemeni government officials and activists dubbed the move as another Houthi farce like that of 30 December.

No immediate comment has been issued by the Arab coalition on Houthi withdrawal from Hodeida, entry point of most Yemen's imports and aid.

The rebels on Saturday called on the UN to pressure the coalition into fulfilling the Hodeida pact.

The Saudi-led forces have to take similar steps, said Houthi politburo.

Late on Saturday, government RCC representative talked about "positive meeting" between his team and UN senior monitor, Michael Lollesgaard.

At the meeting, "it was agreed that Houthi withdrawals should lead to definite timeframes for the UN verification mechanism (UNVIM) and for demining and demilitarization and to a supervision mechanism for ports' revenues," General Sadiq Doaid added on Twitter.

On Friday, the Danish General Lollesgaard said the UN Mission to Support the Hodeida Agreement "will monitor and report on the unilateral redeployment," noting this was "a first practical step on the ground" since the UN-brokered Agreement reached between Yemeni rivals, and stressing that it must be followed by "the committed, transparent and sustained actions of the parties to fully deliver on their obligations."

"Furthermore," he added, "this unilateral redeployment should allow for establishing a UN leading role in supporting the Red Sea Ports Corporation in managing the ports," as well as for enhancing the UN Verification and Inspection Mechanism in accordance with the Agreement.

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