Saudi Arabia announced that it will reopen all Yemeni ports within 24 hours after a week of closures, Al Arabiya English reported.
“The first step in this process will be taken within 24 hours and involves reopening all the ports in areas controlled by the Government of Yemen, including Aden, Mukalla and Mocha,” the statement by Saudi Arabia’s mission to Yemen read.
The Saudi-led military coalition fighting against the Houthi movement in Yemen said on 7 November it would close all air, land and sea ports to the Arabian Peninsula country after a missile was fired at Riyadh.
Saudi Arabia is concerned that the ports are being used to smuggle Iranian-made weapons, including ballistic missiles to the Houthis in Yemen. It is uncertain how the blockade has assisted the Yemen civil war.
“This is counter productive to coalition war aims because the instability generated would be helpful to militant jihadist groups whilst also pushing those worst hit to become more dependent on Iran,” Elisabeth Kendall, Oxford University analyst, told MEMO.
“It is imperative for the blockade to be eased, or ideally lifted entirely, to avoid further humanitarian catastrophe,” Kendall continued.
“The blockade is tantamount to starving a civilian population, which is illegal under the Additional Protocols to the Geneva Convention. If aid, particularly food and medicine, cannot reach those who need it, we may see the spread of disease, famine, population displacement inside Yemen (which would strain delicate tribal balances) and possibly attempts to migrate to neighbouring countries.”
Thousands of Yemenis have taken to the streets of Sana’a today to protest against the blockade. The Yemenis demand a halt to the no fly zone to enable humanitarian aid to reach thousands of civilians, Al-Masdar reported.
The best way for Saudi Arabia to ensure its border is secure and defend itself against future attacks on Riyadh is by advancing a political process to end the civil war
Maher Farrukh, analyst for the Critical Threats Project at the American Enterprise Institute, told MEMO.
“The Houthi-Saleh bloc, at least according to its public statements, views the ballistic missile program as a defensive measure against the Saudi-led coalition’s air campaign. If you end the war through a political process you remove the need for the ballistic missile program and you remove the need for the bloc’s relationship with Iran,” Farruk continued.
“The blockade does not address the overland smuggling that comes from eastern Yemen and, as the bloc demonstrated with the Zilzal-2 missile it launched on Friday, it is not deterring the bloc from firing ballistic missiles into the Kingdom.”
Yemen’s Houthi armed group warned of more attacks on commercial and war ships if the blockade continued. “The battleships and oil tankers of the aggression and their movements will not be safe from the fire of Yemeni naval forces if they are directed by the senior leadership [to attack],” the Houthi’s official media outlet Al-Masirah reported yesterday.
The Saudi-led coalition entered the Yemen civil war in March 2015 on request of President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi, to assist against territorial threats by the Houthis.
The southern located ports have a strong presence of forces backed by the United Arab Emirates, which is a prominent partner in the coalition. The strategic port of Al-Hudaydah is currently under the control of the Houthi armed group.