AL-MUKALLA: Yemen’s government has denied Houthi allegations about a new restriction on fuel ships passing through the Red Sea Port of Hodeidah, following a fuel shortage in Houthi-controlled areas.
It said it had not imposed restrictions on the movement of such vessels entering the port, now or in the past, accusing the Houthis of inventing the problem to force people to buy fuel from the black market under their control to generate revenue.
It said measures governing the traffic of fuel ships through Hodeidah had not changed since the start of a UN truce and that the Houthis were attempting to circumvent the agreed-upon measures so their traders could import oil and smuggle in weapons and other illegal goods.
“It (the government) demanded that the militias put an end to the fabricated crisis and stop their absurd practices to force fuel companies and traders to violate legal procedures in Yemeni ports,” said the government statement, carried by the official Saba news agency.
Under the UN-brokered truce, which came into effect on April 2 and has been renewed twice, the government and the Houthis agreed to stop fighting, allow commercial flights to depart from Sanaa airport and fuel ships to arrive at Hodeidah ports, and engage in direct talks to discuss opening roads in besieged Taiz and other provinces.
The government said the latest fuel crisis in Houthi-controlled areas was part of the movement’s efforts to undermine the truce and restart the war. The Houthis continued to breach the truce by refusing to open roads in Taiz, attacking government troops with missiles and drones, amassing fighters outside key cities, and organizing military parades in Hodeidah.
Residents in Houthi-controlled Sanaa reported long lines of cars outside fuel stations across the capital on Sunday, with drivers waiting hours to fill up.
The Houthi-run Oil Company issued a circular allowing only 40 liters of gasoline per car every six days and accused the Coalition to Restore Legitimacy in Yemen of inciting the crisis by allegedly seizing nine fuel ships.
Analysts in Yemen said the cash-strapped Houthis were seeking to generate billions of riyals to fund their military activities by refusing to pump oil into official fuel stations, forcing people to buy it from their black market.
“The ‘blockade’ was just an excuse for fuel shortage. Houthis create a fuel crisis to force people to buy from their black market,” Nadwa Al-Dawsari, a Yemeni conflict analyst, tweeted.
The government said 35 ships carrying 963,492 tons of fuel had been allowed to dock at Hodeidah during the truce.