Yemen ceasefire holds as UN pushes for further talks

The UN Security Council will discuss a proposal for a new observer mission to Yemen to monitor the ceasefire, diplomats said.
Wednesday 09/01/2019
A coast guard walks past a ship docked at the Red Sea port of Hodeidah, Yemen January 5, 2019. (Reuters)
A coast guard walks past a ship docked at the Red Sea port of Hodeidah, Yemen January 5, 2019. (Reuters)

LONDON - The internationally recognised government of Yemen has emphasised that delays in implementing the terms of the Stockholm agreement might impact prospects of future talks towards ending the conflict in the country.

Yemeni Foreign Minister Khalid al-Yamani has stressed the immediate need to implement the agreed changes in the strategic coastal town of Hodeidah, reported the Dubai-based Al Arabiya news.

It said al-Yamani was in the Saudi capital, Riyadh, briefing the G18 ambassadors, a group of diplomats sponsoring the Yemeni political process. He requested official clarification of UN measures to implement the agreement, adding that the internationally recognised authorities continue to support the efforts of the UN special envoy Martin Griffiths.

Al-Yamini said the Iran-allied Houthi rebels were breaching the agreed ceasefire and “re-stationing inside the city and its ports, digging trenches, erecting barriers as they have exploited the truce to boost their military positions in Hodeidah,” Al-Arabiya reported.

Al-Yamini said the truce has largely held in the city since the agreement came into force on December 18 but also acknowledged transgressions.

Griffiths continued his diplomatic efforts in support of the shaky truce, with the aim of securing future talks between warring factions. He held talks with the Houthi militia in Sana’a before travelling to Riyadh for meeting with Yemeni President Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi, who expressed his “support for the efforts and work” of the UN envoy.

The head of the president’s office, Abdullah al-Alimi, wrote on Twitter that Hadi remained committed to the Sweden accord and stood ready to open up “all humanitarian access,”Agence France-Presse reported

During the meeting, Hadi said his government had made a raft of concessions for the sake of reaching the peace deal.

He also condemned the Houthis’ apparent failure to withdraw fully from Hodeidah as agreed and described it as “a charade.”

Rebel-held Hodeidah was for months the main front line in the Yemen war after government forces supported by Saudi Arabia and its allies launched an offensive to capture it in June.

The Red Sea port is the key point of entry for humanitarian aid and supplies to Yemen, where millions are on the brink of famine as the war has ground on.

Griffiths is looking to push on with steps agreed by the warring sides in Sweden, including the redeployment of rival forces from Hodeidah. 

He is also hoping to bring the sides together again for a new round of peace talks later this month, with the Jordanian capital of Amman as the most likely location.

The UN Security Council will discuss a proposal for a new observer mission to Yemen to monitor the ceasefire and oversee a pullback of forces, diplomats said.

The new mission would provide for the initial deployment of up to 75 monitors to the ports of Hodeidah, Saleef and Ras Isa, backed by additional administrative and security staff.

The international observers would “monitor the compliance of the parties to the ceasefire in Hodeida governorate and the mutual redeployment of forces from the city of Hodeidah and the ports of Hodeidah, Saleef and Ras Isa,” the document said, according to Agence France-Presse.