UAE blasts Houthis for disregarding Hodeidah ceasefire and blocking Yemen aid access

Houthi militants patrolling a street in Hodeidah in December. The militia is blocking access to crucial food supplies in the city. (Reuters)
Updated 09 February 2019

UAE blasts Houthis for disregarding Hodeidah ceasefire and blocking Yemen aid access

  • UAE minister says Houthi’s are the real impediment to peace in Yemen
  • Red Sea Mills in Hodeidah contains enough grain to feed 3.7 million people for a month

DUBAI: The UAE has accused the Houthis of disregarding a Yemen ceasefire agreement after the UN slammed the militants for blocking access to vast food supplies.

The Red Sea Mills in Hodeidah contains enough grain to feed 3.7 million people for a month, but aid officials have been unable to access the stores since September, despite Yemen’s desperate food shortages.

Houthi militants have  blocked the UN from reaching the food and last month destroyed some of the stores with shelling.

Mark Lowcock, under-secretary of the UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA), on Thursday implored the Iran—backed Houthis to allow access to the stores.

Anwar Garagsh, the UAE’s minister of state for foreign affairs, said on Friday that the UN’s plea for access to the stores showed that “the Houthi’s are the real impediment to peace in Yemen.” 

“This will be clearer with their every move to derail the political process,” Gargash said on Twitter.

“The Stockholm Agreement offers us a unique opportunity to end the war in Yemen. 

“Nonetheless the Houthis are working hard to undermine this opportunity by their obstinate disregard to their commitments.”

Gargash said the way forward for the Houthis is to withdraw from “the ports and Hodaidah city” as per the agreement signed in December. 

“The militia is dragging its feet & threatening the overall prospects for peace,” he added.

Talks were held this week in Hodeidah in an attempt to find a breakthrough in implementing the agreement. Mediators said Friday that talks in Jordan on a prisoner swap deal had made "important progress."
The huge prisoner exchange is seen as a crucial confidence-building measure in the UN-led push for peace.

The city of Hodeidah became the main front in the war, which was sparked when the Houthis seized the capital Sanaa in 2014.

Pro-government forces supported by an Arab coalition, which includes Saudi Arabia and the UAE, had surrounded the city and prepared to retake it last summer. 

Hodeidah serves as the country’s main port for aid supplies but the UN and the coalition accuse the Houthis of blocking those supplies from reaching those desperately in need.

“Access to the mills grows ever more urgent as time passes and the risk of spoilage to the remaining grain increases,” Lowcock said in his statement.

“I implore all parties, in particular Ansar Allah affiliated groups, to finalize an agreement and facilitate access to the mills in the coming days,” he said, referring to the Houthi’s political wing.

The UN has described Yemen as the world's worst humanitarian emergency, with 10 million people on the brink of famine.


‘Don't be a fool’ Trump tells Erdogan in letter: World reacts

Updated 3 min 3 sec ago

‘Don't be a fool’ Trump tells Erdogan in letter: World reacts

 

 

LONDON: As a communication between two powerful heads of state, it didn’t exactly follow the usual protocol.

 

“Don't be a fool” Donald Trump told Recep Tayyip Erdogan as he ended the three paragraph letter, which mixed threats to destroy the Turkish economy with lines out of a Hollywood action movie.

 

The extraordinary content of the note has sparked widespread reaction both at home and abroad as the US president faces a furore over his decision to withdraw troops from north-eastern Syria.

 

The text of the letter was revealed on Wednesday evening as Trump was accused of giving Turkey the green light to launch an operation against Kurdish forces. 

 

The letter was sent on Oct. 9 the day the incursion began.

 

“You don’t want to be responsible for slaughtering thousands of people, and I don’t want to be responsible for destroying the Turkish economy – and I will,” he wrote.

 

“History will look upon you favorably if you get this done the right and humane way,” Trump continued. “It will look upon you forever as the devil if good things don’t happen.”

 

“Don’t be a tough guy. Don’t be a fool!”

In Ankara, Erdogan “thoroughly rejected” the letter and “put it in the bin” Turkish presidential sources told BBC Turkish. Despite his anger at the tone, Erdogan went ahead with a meeting on Thursday with US Vice President Mike Pence.

 

The Kremlin, which has troops alongside Syrian forces filling into some of the territory vacated by the US, questioned the tone of the letter.

 

“You don't often encounter such language in correspondence between heads of state. It's a highly unusual letter,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said. 

 

At home the letter was seized upon by Trump’s rivals, and even mocked  including within his own party. The letter emerged on Wednesday after Republicans joined Democrats in voting 354 to 60 in the House to condemn the decision to withdraw US forces.

 

“I actually thought it was a prank, a joke, that it couldn’t possibly come from the Oval Office,” the Democratic congressman Mike Quigley told CNN. “It sounds all the world like the president of the United States, in some sort of momentary lapse, just dictated angrily whatever was on the top of his head.”

 

However, Republican senator Lindsey Graham, who has criticized Trump for the withdrawal, said it was a “good letter” and had urged him to release it.

 

After the House vote, congressional leaders of both parties went to the White House for a briefing, which grew contentious, with Trump and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi trading jabs. The Democrats said they walked out when the meeting descended into trading insults.

 

"What we witnessed on the part of the president was a meltdown," Pelosi, D-Calif., told reporters, saying Trump appeared visibly "shaken up" over the House vote.

 

Stephanie Grisham, the White House press secretary, said that Mr Trump remained “measured and decisive” throughout the meeting. She tweeted: “Dem ‘leadership’ chose to storm out & whine to cameras.”

 

*With AP