Fresh fighting and airstrikes threaten the fragile UN-backed de-escalation deal between Houthi rebels and Saudi-led coalition forces in Yemen. Both sides agreed to leave the ports to allow in vital humanitarian aid. Yet, while the UN deal has been designed to pave the way for peace making, Yemen’s government believes the withdrawal is only a rebel “ploy”.
The conflict escalated in the port city of Hodeidah on Wednesday but also in the Houthi-controlled capital, Sana’a, on Thursday. Although the UN said the implementation of the deal has been successful, the attacks left at least six people dead, including four children, and injured at least 41. Houthi-run Masirah TV said the main aim of the attack on the capital has been “neutralising the ability of the Houthi militia to carry out acts of aggression.” On the other hand, the coalition accused the Houthis of putting fighters in the civilian coast guard and police uniforms in order to remain in control of the ports that are strategically significant.
Almost 70% of Yemen’s food, fuel, and aid flow through ports, whereby pro-government forces accuse the Houthis of using the ports to smuggle in weapons from Iran. Although the Houthi withdrawal is deemed as the first major step in bringing the UN peace deal into being, Yemen remains sceptical about the rebel’s intentions. The UN said that as the Houthis had been “fully compliant throughout the withdrawal and had been fully cooperative”, the management of the ports is to be managed by an UN monitoring mission.