- UAE government minister says Iran-backed militias must leave port
- UN envoy Martin Griffiths arrives in Aden
JEDDAH: Iran-backed Houthi militias must leave the Yemeni port city of Hodeidah as a condition of a UN-brokered peace deal, a senior UAE government minister said on Tuesday.
UN envoy Martin Griffiths arrives in Aden on Wednesday for talks with Yemeni President Abd Rabbu Mansour Hadi, following negotiations with the Houthis in Sanaa last week.
The Saudi-led Arab coalition in Yemen is in close contact with Griffiths and “we do want to see this come to a positive conclusion,” said Reem Al-Hashimy, the UAE minister of state for international cooperation.
“But there are really certain elements we won’t sway from … the withdrawal of the Houthis from the city is essential.
“The special envoy requires about a week or so in his conversations, those are quite delicate. Friday or Saturday this week, it comes to an end. We have continued to take a very measured and tactical approach.”
The port of Hodeidah is a vital lifeline for humanitarian aid to Yemen, but it is also a conduit for smuggling weapons and ammunition to the Houthis from Iran. They include components of missiles fired from northern Yemen and targeting Saudi cities, most recently Riyadh last Sunday.
To cut off the Houthi supply route, the coalition launched a military offensive this month to capture Hodeidah. They seized the airport last week and began a drive north toward the seaport.
The coalition has pledged a swift military operation to take the airport and seaport without entering the city, to minimize civilian casualties and keep aid flowing.
The Houthis are digging trenches, building fortifications and reinforcing their ranks with troops in Hodeidah and in other towns surrounding the city.