London- Moving away from a comprehensive insurgency withdrawal from Sana’a to Hodeida, the United Nation’s roadmap for peace in Yemen is now focused on renewing negotiations which have reached a stalemate last August.
The UN now adopted an approach based on incremental progress.
Reviewing details on a phone call he had with UN Special Envoy to Yemen Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed, Yemen’s Deputy Prime Minister Abdulmalik al-Mekhlafi told Asharq Al-Awsat that international efforts are directed towards gradually ending the stalemate.
“Ould Cheikh believes that the impasse, caused by coup militias in Yemen, could be given a boost if withdrawal of insurgency forces starts with Hodeida, not Sana’a,” said Mekhlafi.
In 2014, Iran-aligned Houthi militias and armed loyalists backing Ali Abdullah Saleh overran Yemen’s capital, driving the government out. Since then, the internationally recognized government led by Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi relocated to eastern Aden.
Hodeidah on the other hand is a strategic governorate which borders the Red Sea and is part of the narrow Tihamah region. Home to a key seaport, Hodeidah is considered vital for coup militias as it is the no.1 supply route used to traffic arms into the war-torn country.
“The proposal is for coup militias to hand over the city and port of Hodeidah to full government control, under the conditions of humanitarian aid and commercial goods continuing to dock at the port,” Mekhlafi added.
“This proposal can provide solutions, virtually sparing Hodeidah from the liberation battle Yemeni government forces and the Saudi-led Arab coalition intend to pursue, particularly that the port of Hodeidah is used to smuggle weapons,” he added.
“The coalition and the Yemeni government offered to hand over the port of Hodeidah to be managed and supervised by the United Nations so that arms trafficking comes to a halt.”
“But when coup militias withdraw and the key port falls under the hands of the legitimate government, this is good.”
“Perhaps, he (UN envoy Ould Cheikh) sees the step as an expression of good intentions and commitment to completing negotiations till the end,” said Mekhlafi.
“During my conversation with Ould Cheikh, he stressed the need for the coup to abide by all terms and conditions they agreed upon, whether with respect to humanitarian issues, detainees and peace references,” added Mekhlafi.