LONDON: The chairman of Yemen’s Presidential Leadership Council has highlighted the futility of diplomacy when dealing with the country’s Iran-backed Houthi militia.
Addressing the UN General Assembly on Thursday, Rashad Mohammed Al-Alimi said diplomacy only works with “legitimate regimes,” and persisting to use it with “terrorist militias” undermines the basis of the UN as an institution.
“For the eighth year in a row, a Yemeni leader is talking about the destruction in Yemen, is talking about the worst suffering in the world at this time,” he said.
“We are losing so many people because of this war. Each time a year passes without a robust response, the militias and terror groups attacking our republic build up, becoming more and more dangerous, and not only a regional threat but a transnational threat.
“I am here to again share this history and the hurt the people of Yemen have taken. Is there not a way to get an effective means to address this, to allow Yemenis to live a normal life?”
Al-Alimi said the Houthis and their allies have repeatedly disregarded their treaty commitments, including the 2018 Stockholm deal and a truce reached in Sanaa two months ago.
He expressed gratitude for the international community’s unified position on the situation in Yemen, and said there is “no excuse” for Houthi actions.
“This institution (the UN) requires principles of peace to be upheld, and that means we need alternative modes of challenging and deterring what is happening in Yemen,” he added.
“Partners in Saudi and the UAE have helped protect our people by hosting Yemeni refugees and supporting the technocratic government set up alongside the presidential council.”
Reemphasizing the threat to the international community posed by the Houthis, Al-Alimi pointed to the FSO Safer oil tanker off the Yemeni coast, which he said is being used to exert pressure on his government.
The Yemeni government acquired the Japanese-made vessel in the 1980s to use as an offshore storage platform for some 3 million barrels of oil.
After the Houthis took control of the country’s western Red Sea ports, including Ras Issa — just 6 km from where the Safer is moored — they also gained control of the ship itself, with reports that they had been mining the waters.
However, the since-abandoned vessel has lacked the necessary upkeep to prevent a leak that could potentially cause a spill worse than that off the south coast of the US in 2010.
While the UN has been negotiating with the Houthis for years to try to get experts on the tanker to examine it, there have been delays and claims of prevarication from the group.
Al-Alimi warned that failure to address the ship, which has been described as a “ticking time bomb,” presents a clear threat to freedom of navigation.
He added: “These militias are threatening international navigation, energy supply, and generating a situation in which you have 20 million people suffering from famine.”