The UN envoy to Yemen is in Houthi-controlled Sana’a to forge a deal to prevent a catastrophic attack on the port city Hudaydah, Al Jazeera reported today.
The Yemen government led by Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi, along with the Saudi-led coalition, is demanding a complete withdrawal of the Houthi group from the port city. The talks come as the United Arab Emirates (UAE), a major partner in the Saudi-led coalition enforced a “pause” last Friday in an all-out offensive along the West Coast. Despite claims that “Operation Golden Victory’ has halted, warring factions on the ground are reporting regular battle updates on their social media networks.
Saudi media reported today that eight permits have been granted to ships heading to Yemen’s ports, including Hudaydah in the past 24 hours. It is unclear whether this move is part of the negotiations connected with Martin Griffiths, UN envoy to Yemen.
— Asharq Al-Awsat English (@aawsat_eng) July 3, 2018
The coalition continues to accuse the Houthis of using Hudaydah to smuggle weapons from Iran despite its warships monitoring the Bab El Mandeb Strait. There has been no evidence to suggest that the Houthis are receiving arms via the port.
The Houthis indicated last month that they would be willing to hand over management of the port to the United Nations. However in a live broadcast on Al-Masirah TV last month, the head of the Houthis said the group had offered the UN a supervisory role to monitor the port of Hudaydah but the proposal had been rejected.
The conflict escalated in 2015 when Saudi Arabia and its Sunni-Arab allies launched a massive air campaign in Yemen aimed at rolling back Houthi gains. According to the UN, more than 10,000 Yemenis have been killed and millions continue to suffer in what it has declared as the worst humanitarian crisis in the world.
Approximately 250,000 Yemenis will be affected by the attack on Hudaydah, according to the UN. Yemeni civilians have resorted to taking shelter in schools to avoid being targeted by the largest offensive yet launched by the coalition in their country.