The Ambassador of the United Arab Emirates in Bucharest: “With Hodeidah port restored, chances for a political solution are increasing”
by Marcela GANEA
On 13 June, the “Golden Victory” operation began in Yemen after the deadline set by the United Arab Emirates for the Houthis to release Hodeidah port under their control expired.
His Excellency Dr. Ahmed Abdullah Al Matrooshi, Ambassador of the United Arab Emirates in Bucharest, has provided clarifications regarding the liberation of Hodeidah port, the second largest Yemeni strategic port with access to the Red Sea and Bab Al Mandab Strait, which was crossed, before the war, by 70% of the food and the aid needed by the Yemenis, and by a third (5 million barrels) of the oil from and to the Suez Canal per day, as well as more than 60 passenger and cargo ships that were crossing the Strait every day.
The liberation of Hodeidah port has geopolitical significance and helps us understand the intricate force relations in the Yemeni conflict and in the region.
Hodeidah port and the entire Yemeni Western coast have been controlled over the past year by Houthi militias. They prevented not only the normal activities of the country but also the humanitarian international actions during the conflict. To note that the humanitarian disaster in Yemen is the most serious in the history of mankind. The UN OCHA (Office for Humanitarian Actions) informed that 18.8 million people need humanitarian aid in Yemen, out of whom 10.3 million are in urgent need. The famine and food shortages, as well as medicine and utilities shortages, are at their deepest level. According to international reports, about 530 ship carrying aid and food entered Hodeidah port but they were robbed by the rebel Houthi militias for their own purposes. With the aid no longer reaching the population, the humanitarian crisis in Yemen turned even more serious.
In addition, Houthi militias used Hodeidah port to receive weapons and ballistic missiles shipments, and the revenue resulted from harbor operations were used to fund their own activities. Since some shipments of weapons have been intercepted, the source of the weapons for the Houthis has been always said to be Iran.
The Arab Coalition has never ceased to counter the rebel and terrorist factions in Yemen. Since 2016, intelligence and military cooperation resulted in deterrence of operations plotted by the faction entitled Al Qaeda in Arabian Peninsula, active in Yemen, and weakened Houthi rebels.
It’s been one year since the UN started negotiations with the Houthis to set free Hodeidah port but they refused the proposals of the UN envoys. The last attempt was made by Martin Griffith.
Thus, the Arab Coalition chose the military option to allow the shipments with humanitarian aid to enter Hodeidah port.
Following the intervention of the Arab Coalition in Yemen, and of the operations carried out in Hodeidah area upon the request of the legitimate Yemeni government, recognized by the international community, and under the Resolutions of the UN Security Council on this crisis (2216, 2204, 2201 and 2140), the area has been restored, which will allow the alleviation of the humanitarian crisis and the de-blocking of the peace process.
The UN and many other international organizations, as well as countries such as the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait have intended for a long time to send food and aid but it has been impossible so far. With Hodeidah port restored, the operating area of the Houthis shrinks and a favorable moment to resume negotiations with the UN is created. The Arab Coalition will do its best, working together with the international community, to ensure aid as much as possible to the Yemeni population in the near future.
His Excellency Dr. Ahmed Abdullah Al Matrooshi, Ambassador of the United Arab Emirates in Bucharest, reiterates the fact that “the restored legitimacy of Hodeidah harbor in Yemen and its liberation from the Houthi militants will increase the chances to reach a political solution for the Yemeni crisis, after three years of deadlock”.
The Ambassador of the United Arab Emirates emphasizes that “the intervention of the Arab Coalition forces in the liberation of Hodeidah town is a legitimate one, especially because it occurred upon the request of the Yemeni government and it is based upon the Resolutions of the UN Security Council. This intervention will prevent Hodeidah harbor’s being used for smuggling Iranian weapons and for collecting funds for the Houthi militants, thus prolonging the war. The Arab coalition forces are in contact with the UN and the relief agencies to ensure smooth transition of the humanitarian operations and the protection of the civilians”.
The military operation took place because political negotiations had reached a deadlock. The Yemeni legitimate forces and the Arab Coalition initiated the operation entitled “The Golden Victory” to set free Hodeidah harbor, controlled by the Houthi militias, about which most Middle East sources say they are supported by Iran and Hezbollah. The biggest confrontation of the last 3 years took place. The Yemeni army, supported by the Yemeni Popular Resistance, mobilized all forces, and on 13th June, they received green light from the Arab Coalition to advance to Hodeidah. When they were a few kilometers away, the Arab Coalition intensified its air and navy strikes. Hodeidah port is home for 600,000 people, who live in serious shortages, and Hodeidah is the main gateway towards the areas controlled by the Houthis as well as the starting point of the Houthis’ military operations into the Red Sea.
The liberation of Hodeidah will favor the Coalition and will give a strong blow to the rebel Houthis, due to the strategic location to the Red Sea, which allows also the restoration of Sanaa and the rest of the central regions.
The Arab Coalition is the military force made up of Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain, Egypt, Morocco, Jordan, Sudan and Senegal. Some of the countries performed air and naval strikes, others have ground forces as well. This coalition, led by Saudi Arabia and the UAE, initiated air strikes against the rebel Houthis in 2015 because in September 2014, the rebels, loyal to the former president Ali Abdullah Saleh, ousted president Abd Rabbu Mansour Hadi from Sanaa, the capital city, through a coup d’état. In this vacuum of power, radical militias and AlQaeda in the Arabian Peninsula became influent. Yemen plunged into a fierce war and the population into the biggest humanitarian crisis ever known.
Sometimes the Western media questions the Coalition’s actions and efficiency, and even the goals, interpreting the conflict as an Iranian-Saudi Sunni-Shia conflict, in which Iran supports rebel and terrorist factions. We need to be well informed and careful with details when we analyze this conflict because it is more intricate than it appears at first sight. Reading across the medias is needed in order to understand the forces involved in Yemen and the relations among them.
To note a positive aspect, namely that, although the Houthis and the Al Qaeda in Arabian Peninsula Arabian had their moments of success, their strength and operating areas decreased in time. International cooperation in intelligence exchange and the reunited armed forces diminished the area of the conflict and significantly weakened the forces that prevent the full restoration of peace in Yemen and the normal life of the Yemeni population.