Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to the US said that the Houthi rebels have rejected all peaceful means to hand over Yemen’s port city of Al Hodeidah to the UN.
Prince Khaled bin Salman said the kingdom will not accept the threat the Houthi rebels pose, as the Arab coalition launched an offensive on the rebel-held city on Wednesday.
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Al Hodeidah – Yemen’s second largest port – has been used by the Iran-backed militia to smuggle weapons, including ballistic missiles, that have repeatedly been launched towards Saudi Arabia.
“The Houthis have so far launched 150 ballistic missiles against civilian areas in KSA, latest of which was intercepted today … no nation can accept such a threat to its land and people on its borders,” he tweeted.
Prince Khaled said that Saudi Arabia has been and will continue to put effort into supporting the people of Yemen.
“These efforts included the recent contribution of $1.5 billion to UN relief efforts in Yemen, the largest in UN history, as well as initiatives to enhance the capacity of ports throughout Yemen, including facilitating the entry of cranes into Al Hodeidah,” he said.
“Addressing the humanitarian situation in a sustainable and effective manner requires liberating Yemen from the control of Houthi militias, which intentionally disrupt the flow and distribution of humanitarian supplies.”
Prince Khaled reiterated that that the most effective solution to the situation in Al Hodeidah was for the Houthis to adhere to the UN resolution that states they must withdraw from all occupied territories.
However, he added, that the militia continued to obstruct mediation efforts and to reject a proposed plan to hand over control of Al Hodeidah to the UN.
“The Yemeni government and the coalition have accepted the proposal. Unfortunately, the Houthis, spurred by Iran, rejected this initiative as it did to all other initiatives. The Coalition remains supportive of UN efforts to implement its plan,” he said.
“The Houthi’s continued obstruction with regards to Al Hodeidah is due to their use of the port to raise revenues through looting, extortion, and illegal taxation imposed on commercial ships to finance and sustain their military aggression against Yemen and neighbouring countries.”
Prince Khaled said that the Arab coalition’s mission to liberate the port city is part of its commitment to support the Yemeni people against the Houthi rebels who are “spreading chaos and destruction”.
“The liberation of Al Hodeidah is critical in light of the growing threat that the Iranian-backed Houthi militia poses to the maritime security of the red sea, a vital waterway through which about 15 per cent of international commerce passes,” he said.
He stressed that the Houthis have attacked commercial and military ships belonging to Saudi Arabia, the UAE and the US.
“Liberating Hodaidah will enhance the maritime security in the region which is crucial for the global economy,” said the ambassador.