AL-MUKALLA: Yemen’s government has issued a firm denial of reports that it intends to allow Turkish companies — whether private or government-run — to run key ports and airports in the war-torn country.
The denial was a response to remarks made by Yemeni Minister of Transportation Saleh Al-Jabwani on a recent visit to Istanbul. Al-Jabwani then said he agreed with his Turkish counterpart that the two countries should form a joint committee tasked with developing Yemen’s transport infrastructure — including ports and airports.
The government issued a statement saying that any cooperation with other countries would always take Yemen’s interests into consideration. Without mentioning Al-Jabwani, the statement made it clear that his remarks do not represent the government’s stance on the matter.
“Circulated remarks about arrangements related to seaports and airports do not represent the government, and some officials’ visits to friendly countries are personal,” the statement said.
The internationally recognized government in Aden is in control of all of the country’s major ports on the Red Sea and the Arabian Sea, with the exception of Hodeida, which is currently under the control of the Iran-backed Houthi militia. The government also runs functioning airports in Hadramout and Aden.
On Wednesday, a senior government official told Arab News that the prime minister was “angry” with the transport minister and that the government’s statement was intended to send a message that only President Abed Rabbo Mansour and his government have the authority to decide who manages Yemeni seaports and airports.
“Neither Al-Jabwani nor any other official has the right to give permission to other countries to run Yemeni facilities. This is a sovereign decision that can be made only by the president and the government,” the official, who asked to remain anonymous, said.
Meanwhile Yemen’s Minister of Information Muammar Al-Aryani took to Twitter to call for the international community to designate the Houthis as a terrorist group.
“We call on the international community to … deal with the Houthi militia on an equal footing with other Iranian arms in the region by speeding up its designation as a terrorist movement,” Al-Aryani wrote.
Yemeni officials including Vice President Ali Mohsen Al-Ahmar, Al-Aryani, and Minister of Foreign Affairs Mohammad Al-Hadhrami, have all backed the US strike that killed Qassem Soleimani, the former head of Iran’s Quds Force, widely believed to be responsible for the training and arming of the Houthis.
On Wednesday, Mohammed Ali Al-Houthi praised Iran’s retaliatory missile attacks again American bases in Iraq, accusing America of killing Yemenis.
Meanwhile, fighting continues to rage in Yemen.
Minister of Defense Mohammed Al-Maqdishi said Houthis had attacked loyalists in the western province of Hodeida — despite both sides having signed the Stockholm Agreement, which was designed to stop fighting in Hodeida and other cities.
On Tuesday, the Yemeni army’s news site, 26 September, said government troops had foiled a Houthi attempt to seize control of military locations in Beit Al-Fagiah district, triggering clashes with government forces.