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Troop withdrawal in Yemen's Hodeidah could start Tuesday, Wednesday -UN

Troop withdrawal in Yemen's Hodeidah could start Tuesday, Wednesday -UN

2019/02/19 | 23:55

(Hatha al-Youm | Iraq News)-

A redeployment of forces in Yemen's Hodeidah by

the warring parties could start "possibly even today or tomorrow,"

United Nations Yemen envoy Martin Griffiths told the UN Security Council on

Tuesday.The Iran-aligned Houthi movement and the

Saudi-backed government agreed at talks in Sweden in December to withdraw

troops by Jan. 7 from the Red Sea city under a truce aimed at averting a

full-scale assault on the port and paving the way for negotiations to end the

four-year war.But the pact stalled over control of Hodeidah,

a lifeline for millions facing famine. After weeks of diplomacy, the United

Nations said on Sunday the parties had reached agreement on phase one of a

troop redeployment."With the beginning, possibly even today

or tomorrow, of the implementation of that part of the Hodeidah agreement we

now have the opportunity to move from the promise made in Sweden to hope now

for Yemen," Griffiths told the 15-member council.Under phase one, the Houthis would withdraw

from the ports of Hodeidah, Saleef, used for grains, and Ras Isa, used for oil.

This would be met by a retreat of Saudi-led coalition forces from the eastern

outskirts of Hodeidah, where battles raged before a ceasefire went into effect

on Dec. 18.Houthi spokesman Mohammed Abdulsalam said late

on Monday the withdrawal of troops from the ports could be implemented in the

two days following Sunday's agreement but the group was waiting to hear from

the United Nations.However, the Yemeni government believes

implementation of phase one should only start when both sides agree on the

local authority that will run the ports and the city under the Stockholm

agreement, said Sadeq Daweed, a government spokesman.Two sources involved in the negotiations, who

declined to be named due to the sensitivity of the discussions, said on Monday

that both sides had yet to agree on a mechanism for local forces to take over

security at the ports and city.Griffiths said phase one of the redeployment of

forces would "facilitate humanitarian access to the Red Sea Mills."The World Food Program grain stores at the Red

Sea Mills are enough to feed 3.7 million people for a month and have been

inaccessible for more than five months. The United Nations has warned the food

is at risk of rotting.Griffiths urged the parties to agree on the

details of the second phase of troop withdrawals, which entails full

redeployment of both parties' forces in Hodeidah province.The Hodeidah truce has largely been respected

but there have been intermittent skirmishes in flashpoints on the city's edges.The Sunni Muslim alliance led by Saudi Arabia

and the United Arab Emirates intervened in 2015 to restore the internationally

recognized government that was ousted from power in Sanaa in late 2014.The conflict, which has killed tens of

thousands, is widely seen in the region as a proxy war between Saudi Arabia and

Iran. The Houthis deny receiving help from Tehran and say their revolution is

against corruption.









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