UN Yemen envoy to brief Security Council on Hodeidah truce

Martin Griffiths will meet President Abdrabu Mansur Hadi in Riyadh before addressing UN

Martin Griffiths (C), the UN special envoy for Yemen, descends from his plane upon his arrival at Sanaa international airport on January 5, 2019. / AFP / MOHAMMED HUWAIS
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UN envoy to Yemen Martin Griffiths is expected to brief the Security Council on a fragile ceasefire in Hodeidah on Wednesday as government forces report an increase in Houthi attacks and the arrival of rebel reinforcements despite the truce. 
Mr Griffiths, who is currently in Saudi Arabia, is expected to meet with Yemeni President Abdrabu Mansur Hadi on Tuesday to discuss the next stage of the agreement, before heading to Geneva, a UN source told The National. 
Mr Hadi and many of his officials are based in the Saudi capital of Riyadh.
UN-brokered peace talks in Sweden last month ended with an agreement on a Hodeidah ceasefire deal, which went into effect on December 18. Warring parties agreed to withdraw fighters from the area as part of the agreement.
Mr Griffiths held talks with Yemen's warring parties this week in an attempt to salvage the agreement. 
The UN envoy landed in the rebel-held capital of Sanaa on Saturday, where he held talks with Houthi officials regarding the redeployment of rebel and government forces in Hodeidah, before flying to Riyadh, a UN source told The National.
The Houthi-controlled Saba news agency said the meetings discussed the "obstacles and breaches" to agreements brokered during talks in Sweden. 
The UN reported last week that the truce has "largely held" in the province but Yemen's government has accused the Houthis of endangering the deal.
Yemen's Foreign Minister, Khalid Al Yamani, said Houthi rebels are continuing to consolidate their forces in the port city in violation of the agreement. 
"We must devote our efforts to establish concrete steps to implement the Hodeidah agreement on the ground," he told diplomats in Riyadh. 
Mr Al Yamani stressed the importance of exerting pressure on the Houthis to comply with the resolutions of the deal and implement the provisions of the Stockholm Agreement.
He also said that Houthi violations of the agreement will influence the way the government engages in the next round of UN-backed negotiations. 
"The obstacles the deal is encountering will be reflected in the Yemeni government's position during the next round of consultation," Mr Al Yamani said.  
Askar Zael, Yemen's military attaché to Turkey and a member of the government's delegation to Sweden, told The National that the government is "cautious about the next round of talks and on the progress, the Houthis are making towards implementing the Stockholm deal." 
"Until this moment the rebels are sabotaging the UN's and General Patrick's efforts in Hodeidah," Mr Zael said.
Anwar Gargash, the UAE's Minister of Foreign Affairs, also expressed scepticism towards the Houthi's commitment to the peace deal.
"The developments in Hodeidah show that the Houthis have no intention of respecting their humanitarian and political commitments," Dr Gargash said on Twitter. 
The Arab coalition, Dr Gargash said, "monitors the rebel's attempts to manipulate and thwart the agreement."
He said such violations will not benefit the rebels and will impede progress on a political solution. The withdrawal of all forces from Hodeidah is a necessary pre-requisite for the next phase of Yemen's political process, he noted. 
The ceasefire deal calls for the deployment of international monitors in Hodeidah and the establishment of a Redeployment Coordination Committee (RCC), chaired by retired Dutch General Patrick Cammaert, will oversee implementation of the accord. 
The government fears that coast guards in the port may remain loyal to the Houthis even after their withdrawal from the area.
The ceasefire accord is regarded as the most significant step towards ending the conflict that has raged in Yemen since 2015. Officials also hope it will ease a humanitarian crisis that has forced two-thirds of the population to depend on humanitarian aid.


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