Yemen: rebels announce withdrawal of 3 ports, the UN cautious

The Houthi rebels have started this weekend to withdraw from three ports in western Yemen in the center of a stand-off since 2018 with the pro-government coalition, cautiously confirmed the UN, a version immediately implemented. doubt by a Yemeni government official.

This redeployment had been agreed at UN-sponsored talks in December in Sweden. Farhan Haq, a UN spokesman questioned by AFP, confirmed on Saturday that the operation had "started", without giving more details.

A rebel leader, Mohammed Ali al-Houthi, has declared the intention of the insurgents to disengage from the ports of Hodeida, Salif and Ras Issa on Saturday on the Red Sea, but a loyalist leader has described the announcement as " new cunning "of the Houthis.

A witness told AFP he saw a convoy of UN vehicles coming in and out of Salif, while sources close to the Houthis claimed that rebels had begun to withdraw from the three ports and that coast guards had taken over, without further specification.

In Salif, an AFP photographer noted the departure of rebel troops and the arrival of about 150 men dressed in coastguard uniforms. According to this photographer, these movements were observed by members of the UN mission.

No independent source has been able to assess the reality and extent of the rebel disengagement, scheduled between Saturday and Tuesday.

Announced several times by the UN, particularly in February and April, the effective withdrawal of belligerents is slow to be implemented in the region of Hodeida, which worries the international community.

"The UN hopes to soon be able to report to the Security Council on the actual movements on the ground," a UN source told AFP on condition of anonymity.

If implemented effectively, the Hodeida disengagement agreement would be the best chance to date to advance peace in Yemen where a deadly conflict has been going on for more than four years, say experts.

- "Dodge" -

Mohammed Ali al-Houthi explained on Twitter that the "unilateral withdrawal" of the rebels came about because of the "refusal" of the pro-government coalition supported by Ryad to implement the agreement reached in Sweden. He blamed Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, the United States and Great Britain as "countries of aggression".

The redeployment must be overseen by a UN observation mission led by retired Danish General Michael Lollesgaard who cautiously hailed on Friday the "offer and intent" of the Houthis to disengage in the west.

The Yemeni government has welcomed the rebel announcement, while expressing doubts about its execution.

"We welcome any measure to implement the Swedish agreement on redeployment in ports in the province of Hodeida, while warning against attempts by the Houthi militia to deceive the international community ", said Yemeni Minister of Information Muammar al-Iryani.

Later, a loyalist official was more categorical. Al-Hassan Taher, governor of the province of Hodeida, told AFP that in the ports of Hodeida, Salif and Ras Issa, the Houthi fighters are pretending to disengage while they transfer the authority of these facilities to security forces that are favorable to them, that is, "to themselves".

There is "no oversight from the UN and the government" for this withdrawal, he said, accusing UN mediator Martin Griffiths of collaborating with the rebels.

"Martin Griffiths wants to win, even if the Houthis are transferring (authority) between them, and we totally reject that and the agreement must be implemented in full, especially with regard to the identity of the forces that will take over from the Houthis ".

Mr. Iryani said that any rebel unilateral redeployment without control and joint verification would be a "dodge" that "can not be accepted".

The war in Yemen pits pro-government forces, supported militarily by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, with Houthi rebels, who are backed by Iran and who control large areas of western and northern Yemen, whose capital is Sanaa.

- A crucial port -

The conflict has killed tens of thousands of people, including many civilians, according to various humanitarian organizations.

About 3.3 million people are still displaced and 24.1 million, or more than two-thirds of the population, need assistance, according to the UN.

A World Food Program (WFP) mission had access on May 5 to wheat warehouses near the port city of Hodeida. The UN organization reported firing on May 9 that did not kill.

The port of Hodeida is crucial for imports and international humanitarian aid to Yemen, some areas of which are on the verge of starvation.

In the city of Hodeida, residents have not hidden their skepticism about the announcement of the withdrawal of ports.

"Today is very quiet," said Ahmad, a 28-year-old bus driver. "But I'm not sure things are going as planned, both parties are announcing a breakthrough, but the situation will deteriorate further."

"Nothing new," said 40-year-old Hani. "It's just an announcement that the war will end if (the Houthis) withdraw from the ports, but nobody wants the end of this war."

Source: Seychelles News Agency

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Yemen: rebels announce withdrawal of 3 ports, the UN cautious

The Houthi rebels have started this weekend to withdraw from three ports in western Yemen in the center of a stand-off since 2018 with the pro-government coalition, cautiously confirmed the UN, a version immediately implemented. doubt by a Yemeni government official.

This redeployment had been agreed at UN-sponsored talks in December in Sweden. Farhan Haq, a UN spokesman questioned by AFP, confirmed on Saturday that the operation had "started", without giving more details.

A rebel leader, Mohammed Ali al-Houthi, has declared the intention of the insurgents to disengage from the ports of Hodeida, Salif and Ras Issa on Saturday on the Red Sea, but a loyalist leader has described the announcement as " new cunning "of the Houthis.

A witness told AFP he saw a convoy of UN vehicles coming in and out of Salif, while sources close to the Houthis claimed that rebels had begun to withdraw from the three ports and that coast guards had taken over, without further specification.

In Salif, an AFP photographer noted the departure of rebel troops and the arrival of about 150 men dressed in coastguard uniforms. According to this photographer, these movements were observed by members of the UN mission.

No independent source has been able to assess the reality and extent of the rebel disengagement, scheduled between Saturday and Tuesday.

Announced several times by the UN, particularly in February and April, the effective withdrawal of belligerents is slow to be implemented in the region of Hodeida, which worries the international community.

"The UN hopes to soon be able to report to the Security Council on the actual movements on the ground," a UN source told AFP on condition of anonymity.

If implemented effectively, the Hodeida disengagement agreement would be the best chance to date to advance peace in Yemen where a deadly conflict has been going on for more than four years, say experts.

- "Dodge" -

Mohammed Ali al-Houthi explained on Twitter that the "unilateral withdrawal" of the rebels came about because of the "refusal" of the pro-government coalition supported by Ryad to implement the agreement reached in Sweden. He blamed Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, the United States and Great Britain as "countries of aggression".

The redeployment must be overseen by a UN observation mission led by retired Danish General Michael Lollesgaard who cautiously hailed on Friday the "offer and intent" of the Houthis to disengage in the west.

The Yemeni government has welcomed the rebel announcement, while expressing doubts about its execution.

"We welcome any measure to implement the Swedish agreement on redeployment in ports in the province of Hodeida, while warning against attempts by the Houthi militia to deceive the international community ", said Yemeni Minister of Information Muammar al-Iryani.

Later, a loyalist official was more categorical. Al-Hassan Taher, governor of the province of Hodeida, told AFP that in the ports of Hodeida, Salif and Ras Issa, the Houthi fighters are pretending to disengage while they transfer the authority of these facilities to security forces that are favorable to them, that is, "to themselves".

There is "no oversight from the UN and the government" for this withdrawal, he said, accusing UN mediator Martin Griffiths of collaborating with the rebels.

"Martin Griffiths wants to win, even if the Houthis are transferring (authority) between them, and we totally reject that and the agreement must be implemented in full, especially with regard to the identity of the forces that will take over from the Houthis ".

Mr. Iryani said that any rebel unilateral redeployment without control and joint verification would be a "dodge" that "can not be accepted".

The war in Yemen pits pro-government forces, supported militarily by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, with Houthi rebels, who are backed by Iran and who control large areas of western and northern Yemen, whose capital is Sanaa.

- A crucial port -

The conflict has killed tens of thousands of people, including many civilians, according to various humanitarian organizations.

About 3.3 million people are still displaced and 24.1 million, or more than two-thirds of the population, need assistance, according to the UN.

A World Food Program (WFP) mission had access on May 5 to wheat warehouses near the port city of Hodeida. The UN organization reported firing on May 9 that did not kill.

The port of Hodeida is crucial for imports and international humanitarian aid to Yemen, some areas of which are on the verge of starvation.

In the city of Hodeida, residents have not hidden their skepticism about the announcement of the withdrawal of ports.

"Today is very quiet," said Ahmad, a 28-year-old bus driver. "But I'm not sure things are going as planned, both parties are announcing a breakthrough, but the situation will deteriorate further."

"Nothing new," said 40-year-old Hani. "It's just an announcement that the war will end if (the Houthis) withdraw from the ports, but nobody wants the end of this war."

Source: Seychelles News Agency

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