Yemen Minister Dismisses Houthi Hodeidah Pullout as Farce
May 14 2019
"The Huthis are staging a new ploy by handing over the ports of Hodeida, Saleef and Ras Issa to themselves without any monitoring by the United Nations and the government side", the government-appointed official said.
Houthi rebels had launched dozens of drone strikes and ballistic missile attacks on Saudi border provinces of Asir, Jizan and Najran in the past months to retaliate against what the rebels said Saudi-led coalition airstrikes on their positions.
The UN Security Council will then hear a briefing on Hodeidah on Wednesday.
Hodeida saw fierce clashes from June past year as pro-government forces surged up the coast into Huthi-held territory and briefly seized the city's airport.
Yemen's government had earlier accused rebels of a "policy of deception" after they announced the withdrawal in a long-delayed move agreed under a ceasefire deal a year ago.
"They took this fake step to avoid being identified as the party responsible for hindering the peace process in Yemen", Mr Al Qudaimi said.
Regarding Houthi's announcement, Yemen's internationally-recognized government Saturday described it as "an inaccurate and misleading offer", according to an official statement delivered by Yemeni Information Minister Muammar Iryani.
Al-Houthi on Saturday said his group's intention to unilaterally redeploy from the ports was a result of the coalition's refusal to implement the Stockholm Agreement.
The U.N. -brokered deal was vague on who would control Hodeida's strategic ports after the sides withdraw, saying a "local force" would take over without specifying further.
It said the redeployment would enable the United Nations to take a leading role in supporting the local Red Sea Ports Authority in managing the ports and enhance United Nations checks on cargoes.
While the Houthi move encouraged foreign powers pushing to re-open humanitarian corridors, displaced Hodeidah residents said they were not ready to return.
Sources saw this as a sign United Nations envoy Martin Griffiths had managed to get the warring sides to agree to the plan, since the coalition had quickly rejected a previous attempt by the Houthis to unilaterally withdraw last December.
The cease-fire in Hodeida, which ended month of fighting, called for the mutual withdrawal of both government and rebel forces from the city and two other key locations.
A UN source told media on Saturday that the UN Redeployment Coordination Committee (RCC) would announce its assessment of the Houthi redeployment next week.
Under the plan, the Houthis are to pull back five km from the ports between May 11 and 14.
The port of Hodeida is one of Yemen's most important lifelines.
Pro-government forces have twice tried to seize the port, and accuse the Houthis of using it to smuggle in weapons from Iran.
Yemen s conflict has killed tens of thousands of people, many of them civilians, relief agencies say.