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Yemen’s Houthi gov’t enters oil exploration deal with China

May 21, 2023 at 3:13 pm

Houthis take security measures as a delegation of Yemeni activists and tribal leaders welcome released Major General Faisal Rajab in Sanaa, Yemen on April 30, 2023. [Mohammed Hamoud – Anadolu Agency]

Yemen’s de facto, Houthi-led government has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with China’s Anton Oilfield Services Group (AntonOil) and a representative of the Chinese government to invest in oil exploration in the country.

According a report by the Sanaa-based Saba News agency yesterday, the MoU comes after many negotiations and coordination with several foreign companies to convince them to invest in the war-torn country’s underdeveloped oil sector.

The Sanaa government’s Ministry of Oil and Minerals who inked the agreement also warned foreign companies against dealing with the Saudi-initiated Presidential Leadership Council, which currently represents the internationally-recognised Yemen government.

Oil and Minerals minister, Ahmed Dares called on foreign firms to visit Yemen to see the potential, investment opportunities, advantages and facilities on offer in the country.

“There are many ongoing negotiations with various high-profile companies to invest in the country’s oil exploration sector,” the Yemeni official added. “There will be work to put the final touches on the signing of an MoU.”

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Dares also praised “the efforts of the Ministry of Oil and its endeavors to encourage investments in this vital sector, develop it, and utilize this wealth for the benefit of the country.”

By entering in the oil exploration deal, China becomes the latest country to implicitly recognise the Houthi-led National Salvation Government (NSG), which so far only has diplomatic relations with Iran and Syria. In a major step, Saudi Arabia which has been waging a war against Yemen since 2014, sent a delegation to the Yemeni capital last month to enter peace negotiations with the NSG, raising the prospects of an end to the devastating conflict and legitimacy for the authorities in Sanaa.

Late last month, the Houthi movement’s Political Bureau member Ali Al-Qahoum praised Beijing, saying it “emerged playing a pivotal role and making agreements that restore calm, peace, and diplomatic relations between the countries of the region.”

“The Saudi-Iranian agreement under Chinese auspices has positive repercussions between these countries at the internal and regional levels,” he added, pointing out that “China must retrieve its vital role in the region and end Western hegemony and the disruption of the stability and sovereignty of the countries of West Asia, the destruction of nations, and the ignition of strife and wars.”

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