ABU DHABI: The United Arab Emirates on Sunday announced a pause in the offensive it is backing against Houthi rebels in Yemen’s port city of Hodeidah, to give a chance to UN peace efforts.
“We welcome continuing efforts by UN Special Envoy, Martin Griffiths, to achieve an unconditional Houthi withdrawal from Hodeida city and port,” UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash said on Twitter.
“We have paused our campaign to allow enough time for this option to be fully explored. We hope he will succeed.”
The announcement comes after Griffiths met with President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi, whose troops are battling the Houthi rebels for control of the Red Sea port city, earlier this week.
We welcome continuing efforts by UN Special Envoy, Martin Griffiths, to achieve an unconditional Houthi withdrawal from Hodeida city and port. We have paused our campaign to allow enough time for this option to be fully explored. We hope he will succeed.— د. أنور قرقاش (@AnwarGargash) July 1, 2018
Hadi demanded a full rebel withdrawal from the city, which has been the target of a weeks-long military offensive by the Yemeni government and its regional allies, led by the UAE on the ground.
Diplomatic sources have said Griffiths has been pushing for the Iran-backed Houthis to cede control of the port to the United Nations and there have been some reports they have agreed.
To clarify the Coalition has paused the advance on the city & port on June 23 for a week to allow the UN envoy to secure an unconditional withdrawal from Hodeida. We continue our pressure on the parameter & await results of the Envoy’s visit to Sana.— د. أنور قرقاش (@AnwarGargash) July 1, 2018
The Houthis have controlled the western city of Hodeidah, and its port, since 2014, when they drove the Hadi government out of the capital and seized large swathes of northern Yemen.
On June 13, the UAE and its allies, including Saudi Arabia, launched a massive military operation — dubbed “Golden Victory” — to drive the rebels out of the Hodeidah port.
Some 70 percent of imports to Yemen, where eight million people face imminent famine, flow through the port of Hodeidah.
The United Nations has called Yemen the world’s largest humanitarian crisis. Meanwhile members of Yemen’s army captured 30 Houthi militia as they attempted to attack an area previously liberated south of Hodeidah.