May 13, 2019 at 19:32
While according to the UN, the withdrawal of the Houthis from three ports in the Hodeida region of Yemen is proceeding as planned, the lack of trust between the belligerents persists, the government denouncing a manipulation of the rebels.
There is still mistrust between the actors of the war in Yemen. Two days after the Houthi rebels announced the withdrawal of their troops from three ports in the Hodeida region, the Yemeni government of President Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi denounced Sunday (May 12th) a farce.
The redeployment of Shiite rebels was « in accordance with the plans, » said Sunday, the UN, godmother of inter-Yemeni agreements in Stockholm, signed in December 2018 after tough negotiations. The text aimed to put an end to fierce fighting around Hodeïda, in the west of the country, after months of military offensive by Yemeni pro-government forces supported by the Saudis and Emiratis. In principle, according to the text, the Houthi fighters must withdraw 5 kilometers from the ports of Hodeïda (strategic and vital for sending humanitarian aid), Ras Issa and Latif.
UN « formal verification » expected 14 May
« The three ports were simultaneously monitored by UN teams, while military forces left the ports and the coast guards assumed responsibility for security, » the UN said in a statement. « In the coming days, the activities (in the ports) should focus on the elimination of » equipment « and military demining, » said the UN Mission in charge of overseeing the Hodeida Agreement. « The formal verification » by the United Nations of the first redeployment will take place in the three ports on Tuesday, May 14, she added.
Despite these announcements, the Yemeni government remains suspicious and accuses the Houthis of staging a unilateral move, and of replacing fighters with other Houthis disguised as coast guards. « What the Houthi militia have done is the rehearsal of a play on the transfer of control of the port to forces » that are favorable to them, tweeted the Yemeni Minister of Information Muammar al-Iryani who called « manipulation » the rebel withdrawal.
The tweet of the Yemeni Minister of Information Muammar al-Iryani
« This unilateral, improvised and uncontrolled withdrawal is not in line with the Stockholm agreements, the government is waiting for clarifications from the UN, because the withdrawal must be done according to the precise modalities in the text signed in Sweden and this, under the supervision of a committee made up of representatives of the UN, the Yemeni government and the Houthis « , explains Yaser al-Hasni, from the press service of the Yemeni presidency.
« The hand of the Houthis is tense towards peace »
For their part, the Houthis claim to be of good will and denounces the attitude of the Yemeni government. « If he does not approve the application of part of the Stockholm text, how can one expect him to respect a peace agreement that includes many concessions? » interviewed Mohammad Nasr al-Baghiti, leader of the Houthi movement.
« This is a historic event, in accordance with the Stockholm agreements, which shows the world that the hand of the Houthis is tense towards peace and that they want to apply the text signed in Sweden, assures France 24 Ali Qesher, elected from Hodeida province, close to the Houthis, it is now time to wait for a similar gesture from the other side so that they also prove their good intentions for the country to move on to other stages on the way to the peace ».
Asked about the reserves of the Yemeni government, Ali Qesher raised the tone. « These speeches are misleading, those who pronounce them do not have a hand on what is happening on the ground, they are in Riyadh or the Emirates, he says.The Houthis do not take their orders from anyone, the Iran [suspected of supporting the Shia Houthis, Ed] does not play any role in this matter, I, I speak from Hodeida, since the port, and I was there when the withdrawal began.
UN must « take a more aggressive stance »
Caution is also needed on the part of experts in the region, pending a final report from the UN. « The trend is to be cautious, even if it is still the first sign of appeasement after months of immobility, in a particularly devastating conflict that has lasted for 4 years, notes Bruno Daroux, specialist in international issues at France 24 « .
« We have to be careful because I do not see this announcement as a big step forward, as the level of trust between the Houthis and the Yemeni government is extremely low, » said Natasha Lindstaedt, professor of international relations at the University. Essex, a specialist in the Middle East, interviewed by France 24. The Yemeni government has accused the Houthis of masking their real intentions. «
According to her, the fact that no decisive step has been made since the signing of the Stockholm Accords, which included an exchange of prisoners between the belligerents, a ceasefire in Hodeida and other port cities as well as Taez, Yemen’s third largest city, complicates the situation and helps maintain a low level of trust.
« Part of the problem comes from the UN’s ability to do more than an observation mission, because the Stockholm agreement is very vague, maybe it had to be text to get the signatures of the two. Natasha Lindstaedt: For example, the issue of prisoner exchange must be concluded, the United Nations must take a more aggressive stance on this issue, because it is an emotional issue for Yemenis. , an important step will be taken and the United Nations will be able to establish a climate of confidence and gain credibility, which will enable it to advance on other files « .
Announced several times by the UN, notably in February and April, the effective withdrawal of the ports was slow to be implemented while the country was ravaged by the war, and that millions of Yemenis, threatened by the famine, depended Imports and humanitarian aid expected to arrive via Hodeida.