Security

Al-Hodeida advance halts as UN pursues talks

By AFP

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A general view shows the Red Sea port of al-Hodeida on June 24th. [Abdo Hyder/AFP]

The UAE on Sunday (July 1st) announced it had halted the offensive it is backing against the Houthis (Ansarallah) in Yemen's port city of al-Hodeida to give a chance to UN diplomatic efforts.

In a series of social media posts, UAE Foreign Minister Anwar Gargash said the pause was aimed at pursuing negotiations for an unconditional Houthi withdrawal from the port but warned that full military action could resume.

Pointing to a renewed push for a negotiated settlement by UN envoy Martin Griffiths, Gargash said: "We have paused our campaign to allow enough time for this option to be fully explored. We hope he will succeed."

He said the pause had been in effect since June 23rd, while pro-government forces were awaiting the results of an upcoming visit by Griffiths to Sanaa.

Griffiths arrived in Sanaa on Monday for another round of talks with the Iran-backed Houthis. He did not make a statement upon his arrival at the city's international airport.

The UN envoy met with Yemeni President Abd Rabbu Mansour Hadi in Aden on Wednesday, and was in Oman on Thursday, where he met top Houthi negotiator Mohammed Abdulsalam.

He is reported to be pushing for the Houthis to cede control of al-Hodeida to the UN.

The Houthis have said they may be willing to share control of al-Hodeida's port with the UN, but say their forces must remain in the docks and the city.

'Forcing concessions'

The Houthis have controlled al-Hodeida and its port since 2014, when they also drove the Hadi government out of Sanaa and seized swathes of northern Yemen.

On June 13th, pro-government forces launched a massive military operation -- dubbed "Golden Victory" -- to drive the Houthis out of the port.

They managed to seize control of al-Hodeida's airport in mid-June after days of heavy fighting, but did not immediately push forward into the city, home to some 600,000 people.

The fighting has claimed 429 lives, according to military and medical sources. There are no confirmations of civilian casualties, although the UN has documented thousands of residents fleeing combat zones.

Gargash said the operation has succeeded in "forcing the Houthis to make concessions", but it remained to be seen "whether the Houthis are engaging seriously with this process or using it as a tactic to buy time".

"Failing these patient efforts we believe that continued military pressure will ultimately bring the liberation of al-Hodeida and force the Houthis to engage seriously in negotiations," he said.

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One must be prudent and shouldn't wage needless wars. Reason should prevail. May God bless you!

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We will never hand in an inch to those mercenaries, traitors and servants of the West. With God's help, our homelands and al-Quds will be liberated.

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God willing, there will be reconciliation; this is better than war and destruction.

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