Anwar Gargash: Houthi delays are undermining Sweden agreements

Rebels are showing themselves to be main obstacles to peace, UAE minister says

FILE PHOTO: Houthi militants patrol a street where pro-Houthi protesters demonstrated against the Saudi-led coalition in Hodeidah, Yemen December 10, 2018. Picture taken December 10, 2018. REUTERS/Abduljabbar Zeyad/File Photo
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Yemen's Houthi rebels are undermining the prospects for peace by delaying the implementation of agreements reached in Sweden, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Dr Anwar Gargash said on Friday, reiterating a call for international pressure on the Iran-backed group.

It is becoming clear after the Stockhom Agreement that the rebels "are the real impediment to peace in Yemen", Dr Gargash wrote on Twitter, referring to the UN's accusation that the Houthis were refusing to let aid agencies reach a food storage site in Hodeidah.

The Red Sea Mills silos are believed to contain enough grain to feed 3.7 million people for a month but the Houthis are refusing to allow UN aid agencies to cross front lines to reach the site, UN aid chief Mark Lowcock said on Thursday.

Dr Gargash said the Houthis' intentions "will be clearer with their every move to derail the political process".

The rebels committed to a series of measures to pave the way for a full-scale peace effort during UN-brokered talks with the government in Sweden last December. These included a ceasefire in Hodeidah and withdrawal of forces from the city and its ports; a prisoner exchange; and the opening of humanitarian corridors to all areas of the country.

"The Stockholm Agreement offers us a unique opportunity to end the war in Yemen. Nonetheless the Houthis are working hard to undermine this opportunity by their obstinate disregard to their commitments. We have to save the prospects for peace," Dr Gargash said.

The Saudi-led coalition supporting the government, which includes the UAE, last week sent a letter to the UN Security Council listing hundred of rebel violations since the Hodeidah ceasefire went into effect on December 18. The government says rebels have yet to withdraw from the ports, delaying the pullout of all forces from the city. Three days of government-rebel talks overseen by the head of the UN monitoring mission in Hodeidah ended on Thursday with only an agreement "in principle" for implementing the ceasefire and more discussions planned for next week.

Dr Gargash said international pressure was essential to make the rebels honour the Hodeidah ceasefire and other commitments.

"Vital that the international community support the Stockholm Agreement at this juncture," he said. "The militia is dragging its feet and threatening the overall prospects for peace."