DUBAI: The Houthis have been using the decaying Safer tanker as leverage in the peace process, having realized the importance it holds, Yemen’s foreign minister Mohammed Al-Hadrahmi said.
The Houthis have refused for more than five years to allow international engineers to carry out maintenance on the vessel which is moored off the coast of Yemen.
The Yemeni government has been asking the United Nations to intervene to prevent a major environmental disaster.
Al-Hadhrami reiterated its call to the Security Council on Wednesday saying it should “send the Houthis a strong signal that this time they must comply,” as reported by state-owned Saba.
The statement comes as the minister explained how the militia had been using the tanker as a bargaining chip in the ongoing peace process “with a complete disregard for the potential drastic consequences of this unethical behavior.”
Experts said 138 million liters of crude oil could leak into the Red Sea from the rusty tanker, which will result in a number of environmental and economic damages not only on Yemen, but the whole region.
“We believe that the best course of action supports the latest stand-alone detailed proposal on Safer which we received from the UN Envoy to Yemen, Mr. Martin Griffiths, last month to which we agreed given that it would not be linked to any other issues or processes under discussion,” Al Hadhrami said.
The proposal outlined three steps to resolve the tanker issue – necessary repairs, basic maintenance to facilitate oil extraction and the eventual disposal of the tanker.
It also stated all potential revenue from the sale of extracted oil will be used to pay the salaries of civil servants in Yemen.
Saudi Arabia ready to take ‘necessary steps’
Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia said it was ready to take necessary steps – with the support of the United Nations Security Council – to deal with the Safer oil tanker crisis.
Permanent Representative of Saudi Arabia to the UN, Ambassador Abdullah Al-Muallami, told the council on Wednesday to “remain vigilant” and to be ready to announce “strong and decisive measures” to deal with the tanker and eliminate the threat it poses.
“We would like to draw the Council’s attention to the record of the Houthis non-compliance with United Nations resolutions,” Al-Muallami said during virtual meeting on the situation in Yemen.
Al-Muallami pointed out that the oil tanker posed grave risks that threaten to cause serious harm to the south of the Red Sea. It also threated regional security and international maritime navigation between Asia and Europe due to its location near Bab Al-Mandab, he added.