Hodeida fighting threatens peace efforts, warns UN

Forces loyal to the internationally recognized government have been engaged in heavy fighting with Houthi insurgents since Friday, violating the truce agreed under the Stockholm Agreement. (AFP/File)
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Updated 08 October 2020

Hodeida fighting threatens peace efforts, warns UN

  • Griffiths has been pushing to convince the warring parties to put a nationwide cease-fire in place ahead of comprehensive peace talks aimed at reaching an agreement to end the war

AL-MUKALLA: The United Nations Special Envoy to Yemen Martin Griffiths has urged warring factions in Yemen to stop fighting in the western city of Hodeida immediately, warning that they risk undermining the Stockholm Agreement and his continuing efforts to reach a peaceful deal.

“This military escalation not only constitutes a violation of the Hodeida cease-fire agreement, but it runs against the spirit of the ongoing UN-facilitated negotiations that aim to achieve a nationwide cease-fire, humanitarian and economic measures and the resumption of the political process," Griffiths said in a statement on Thursday.

“I have been engaging with all sides. I call on them to immediately stop the fighting, respect the commitments they made under the Stockholm agreement, and engage with UNMHA’s joint implementation mechanisms,” he said, referring to the UN Mission to Support the Hodeidah Agreement.

Forces loyal to the internationally recognized government have been engaged in heavy fighting with Houthi insurgents since Friday, violating the truce agreed under the Stockholm Agreement.

Griffiths has been pushing to convince the warring parties to put a nationwide cease-fire in place ahead of comprehensive peace talks aimed at reaching an agreement to end the war.

The latest round of fighting broke out on Friday in Hays and Al-Durihim districts when the Houthis launched a major assault on government troops with the aim of breaking a siege on pockets of their forces and seizing control of new areas, local army commanders and state media said. Two days later, fighting broke out in other contested areas in the city of Hodeida, during which the army and the Houthis traded heavy fire that rocked the city.

“Huge explosions as if the war has just started,” Dr. Ashawaq Mahram, a physician from Hodeida city, wrote on Twitter on Wednesday.

Unilateral truce

Shortly after the Griffiths’ appeal, army commanders told Arab News that they had received orders to stop fighting in Hodeida. “Government forces were ordered to show restraint in response to the UN call,” said Abdurrahman Hajari, a military commander of Tehama Resistance, a unit battling Houthis in Hodeida, adding that the Houthis continued shelling government forces in Hodeida on Thursday.

“The Houthis have never adhered to any truce. The Houthis are amassing huge forces along the western coast,” Hajari said.

Also on Thursday, the pro-government Joint Forces said in a statement that hundreds of Houthis, including high-ranking field commanders, have been killed or wounded in Hodeida, adding that the Joint Forces had foiled consecutive Houthi attempts to advance in the province.

Under the Stockholm Agreement, the Yemeni government agreed in 2018 to halt a major military offensive on Houthi-controlled Hodeida, including its seaport, provided the Houthis withdrew from the port and deposited revenues in the central bank in the city. Government troops have been stationed in Al-Khamseen and Sanaa streets, east of Hodeida, since 2018.

In March, the Yemeni government suspended participation in the Redeployment Coordination Committee (RCC) in Hodeida after a Houthi sniper gunned down a government soldier.

Hundreds of people have been killed since late 2018 in sporadic fighting between the two parties. Yemeni government officials link the escalation in fighting by the Houthis to heavy setbacks that they suffered on other battlefields, including the northern province of Jouf.

Government troops recently announced that they had seized control of a strategic military base in Jouf and pushed deep into Houthi-controlled areas in the province. Foreign Minister Mohammed Al-Hadrami told official media that the Houthis had intensified attacks in Hodeida to compensate for setbacks in Al-Bayda, Marib and Jouf.
 

 


Arab coalition commander renews support to Yemen

Updated 29 October 2020

Arab coalition commander renews support to Yemen

  • Assurance comes as the governor of Aden thanked it for helping local security authorities intercept a major cargo of drugs at Aden seaport
  • Yemen’s defense minister said on Wednesday that at least 800 Houthi fighters, including senior field commanders, had been killed since the beginning of this month

AL-MUKALLA: The coalition will continue backing Yemeni military forces fighting the Houthis until the country returns to normal, the commander of Arab coalition forces in the southern city of Aden has said.

During a meeting with Aden’s new governor, Ahmed Lamlis, Brig. Gen. Nayef Al-Otaibi said that the coalition would continue its support till Yemen recovered from the war and its state bodies functioned normally, Yemeni state media said on Wednesday.

The coalition’s assurance comes as the governor of Aden thanked it for helping local security authorities intercept a major cargo of drugs at Aden seaport. The governor told the Arab coalition commander that local authorities in Aden were looking forward to receiving more support from the coalition, enabling them to bring back peace and stability to Aden and fix vital services there.

The Arab coalition and local security authorities at Aden seaport recently announced a 500kg cocaine and heroin bust worth millions of dollars. The drugs were hidden inside sugar bags in a large sugar shipment originating from Brazil. There was no information about arrests in connection with the drugs bust but local security officials said that investigations were underway.

Meanwhile, Yemen’s defense minister said on Wednesday that at least 800 Houthi fighters, including senior field commanders, had been killed since the beginning of this month in fighting with government troops or in Arab coalition airstrikes.

Based on Houthi burial statements carried on their media, the rebels have buried more than 600 fighters, including 154 field leaders, since Oct. 1, in different provinces under their control. In the capital, Sanaa, the rebels have arranged funeral processions for 178 dead fighters, including 67 field commanders with different military rankings, the ministry said in a statement on its news site.

Most of the Houthi deaths occurred in the provinces of Marib and Jouf, where rebel forces are engaging in heavy fighting with government forces and allied tribesmen, backed by Arab coalition warplanes.

State media also quoted the governor of Jouf, Ameen Al-Oukaimi, as saying that government forces had inflicted a huge defeat on the Houthis during the latest intense fighting in the province. Yemeni Army commanders said that they foiled Houthis attempts to recapture the liberated Al-Khanjer military base and surrounding areas in Jouf.

In the western province of Hodeidah, the Joint Forces, an umbrella term for three major military units in the country’s western coast, said that a Houthi field military leader, Mohammed Yahya Al-Hameli, was killed during a foiled rebel assault in the province on Wednesday.

Fighting has continued across Yemen despite repeated calls by the UN and western diplomats for Yemeni factions to halt hostilities and focus on approving the UN-brokered peace initiative known as the Joint Declaration. On Thursday, British Ambassador to Yemen Michael Aron called on the internationally recognized President of Yemen Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi and the Houthis to engage in serious talks to end the war.

“President Hadi and the Houthi leadership must work seriously and urgently with the UN Yemen envoy to end the war in Yemen by concluding the Joint Declaration in order to avert a humanitarian catastrophe,” the ambassador said on Twitter.

The declaration proposes a nationwide truce ahead of the implementation of economic and humanitarian measures. When the fighting stops, the Yemeni parties will be asked to engage in direct talks to discuss postwar political arrangements.