| 19 April 2024, Friday |

Yemeni government threatens Sanaa airport, Hodeidah port shutdown over Houthi ‘economic war’

The internationally recognized government of Yemen has issued a warning, stating that it may close Sanaa International Airport and impose restrictions on ship movements in Hodeidah unless the Iran-backed Houthis halt their “economic war” and cease their escalating military activities throughout the nation.
Moammar Al-Eryani, Yemen’s minister of information, said the most recent Houthi economic measures against the Yemeni government and businesses in Sanaa threaten to exacerbate the already dire humanitarian crisis and jeopardize Yemen’s peace prospects.

Al-Eryani warned that if the Houthis do not cease their military and economic escalation, the Yemeni government will contemplate restricting access to the airport and Hodeidah’s port.

“We warn against the continuation of the Houthi militia in its escalation, which threatens to collapse the economic situation and exacerbates human suffering,” the minister said on Twitter.

“We affirm that the government will be forced to review the steps it has taken within the terms of the UN truce, and reconsider the facilities related to the operation of the port of Hodeidah and Sanaa airport, and take measures that preserve the interests and capabilities of the Yemeni people.”

Under a UN-brokered truce that went into effect in April last year, the Yemeni government allowed commercial flights to resume from Sanaa and also facilitated the arrival of fuel ships to Hodeidah in exchange for the Houthis de-escalating on the battlefields, lifting their siege on the city of Taiz, and working with the Yemeni government to resolve economic issues such as revenue collection and paying public employees in Houthi-controlled areas.

Yemeni government officials stated that the Houthis continue to attack government forces, refuse proposals to ease their siege of Taiz, and late last year launched drone attacks against oil facilities in Hadramout and Shabwa, halting crude exports.

To deprive the Yemeni government of tax and gas revenues, the Houthis forced local traders to import goods through Hodeidah and prohibited them from using government-controlled ports.

Additionally, the Houthis have recently barred gas vehicle tankers from the central city of Marib from entering their territory.

Al-Eryani said that the Houthis responded to the Yemeni government’s concessions with additional military and economic measures, urging the international community to shame and name the Houthis for “dragging” the country back to violence.

“We call on the international community, the United Nations and the permanent members of the Security Council to observe their mandate in pressuring the Houthi militia to stop the systematic economic war, which threatens to undermine opportunities and efforts for de-escalation and peace, and drag the situation in the country to further complication,” he said.

The Yemeni government has repeatedly threatened to abandon all agreements with the Houthis, including the Stockholm Agreement and the UN-brokered ceasefire, if the Houthis do not cease their attacks on oil facilities, which deprive the government of its primary source of revenue, end their siege of Taiz, and permit the free movement of goods throughout the country.

Najeeb Ghallab, undersecretary at Yemen’s Information Ministry and a political analyst, told Arab News that the Houthis have not implemented any of the truce’s agreed-upon provisions and are attempting to coerce the “bankrupt” Yemeni government into paying public employees in their territories.

Ghallab said the international community would support the Yemeni government if it decided to confront the Houthi’s economic and military activities, citing a recent strongly worded statement by the ambassadors of France, the US, and the UK to Yemen that threatened to isolate the Houthis completely if they resumed fighting.

“If the current situation continues, the legitimate government will suffer greatly. As a result, different actions must be implemented, including reinstating the situation prior to the opening of the port of Hodeidah and the airport of Sanaa. The government is capable of doing so,” Ghallab said.

  • Arab News