Houthis urged to abide by Stockholm Agreement

UK Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said Yemen may be “on the path to peace” if warring factions follow through with agreements.
Friday 15/02/2019
Participants, including Yemen's Foreign Minister Khalid al-Yamani and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo arrive for a session at the conference on Peace and Security in the Middle east in Warsaw, on February 14, 2019. (AFP)
Participants, including Yemen's Foreign Minister Khalid al-Yamani and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo arrive for a session at the conference on Peace and Security in the Middle east in Warsaw, on February 14, 2019. (AFP)

ADEN - Top diplomats from Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom and the United States agreed on the need to pressure the Iran-allied Houthis to fully implement terms of an agreement reached with the Yemeni government.

A meeting February 13 during an international gathering in Warsaw involved discussing the situation in Yemen, where the humanitarian crisis is worsening and the possibility of terms of December’s Stockholm Agreement holding seems to be faltering.

UK Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt, chairman of the meeting, told the London Telegraph newspaper that Yemen may be “on the path to peace” if warring factions follow through with agreements reached in Sweden. “This is the best chance we’ve had for a very long time,” Hunt said.

A statement issued after the meeting called on all parties “to rapidly and fully implement the agreements… for the sake of the Yemeni people.” It said there should be no delay with regards to a ceasefire in Hodeidah.

Both the Yemeni government and the Houthis have accused each other of breaching the agreement and failing to withdraw from Hodeidah and its strategic port.

Complicating matters has been tensions between the internationally recognised Yemeni government and UN Special Envoy Martin Griffiths.

Political sources in Yemen said Griffiths’ latest shuttle diplomacy centred on finding consensus on humanitarian issues in Yemen to overcome obstacles hindering implementation of the Stockholm Agreement.

A statement released by Griffiths and UN Emergency Relief Coordinator Mark Lowcock after Griffiths met with Yemeni government officials in Riyadh angered the government, which said it was biased in favour of the Houthi movement.

The section that irked the government of Yemeni President Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi was the positive assessment the United Nations gave the Houthis regarding cooperation, which contradicted previous comments from Lowcock.

“We acknowledge the confirmation from [Houthis] of their commitment to implement the Hodeidah agreement,” the statement said. “We appreciate their earlier efforts to reopen the road leading to the mills that have been carried out under difficult and dangerous circumstances.”

Yemeni Information Minister Muammar al-Iryani challenged the statement's praise of the militia about redeploying from Hodeidah, claiming the Houthis have continued stalling tactics.

"The joint statement contradicts previous statements by Mr Mark Lowcock, who held the Houthi militia responsible for preventing the evacuation of the wheat depots in the Red Sea mills and for preventing the opening of safe corridors for food supplies," Iryani said on Twitter.

"This saddening statement confirms that the UN envoy is bowing to the blackmail and pressure by the Houthi militia,” Iryani said. "We reiterate that the special envoy to Yemen and UN monitors must identify the side that is impeding the implementation of the Sweden agreement regarding redeployment in Hodeidah and its ports.”

Iryani, in an interview, said Griffiths was sending the wrong message to the Houthis with his statement. He said it would encourage the militia’s “stubborn behaviour and refusal to comply with international resolutions reached at the talks in Sweden.”

Iryani said the United Nations’ efforts were tainted by the statement while the Yemenis were “looking for salvation from the Houthi coup and its repercussions.”

Hadi issued a statement calling for a precise timeline to implement the UN-brokered deal in Hodeidah.

He "affirmed that the legitimate government and the countries of the Arab coalition are keen to achieve peace” but said that the rebels "only summon the concept cosmetically when they face setbacks to gain time, allowing them to build fortifications and plant mines." The statement appeared on the Saba official state news agency.

"The implementation of the Hodeidah deal is the first step towards setting the basis for peace and building the required trust. Without this, there is no outcome to be expected from stalling, which the Houthis are known for," Hadi’s statement said.