Vastavam web: Yemen’s Iran-aligned Houthis have indicated they would be willing to hand over management of Hodeidah port to the United Nations, a potential breakthrough in a conflict that has caused the world’s worst humanitarian crisis, sources familiar with the efforts said. Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have pledged a swift military operation to take over the airport and seaport without entering the city centre, to minimize civilian casualties and maintain the flow of essential goods.
Hodeidah port is a principal entry point for relief supplies for Yemen. U.N. officials have warned that large-scale fighting in the city could threaten tens of thousands. U.N. envoy Martin Griffiths has been in the Houthi-controlled Yemeni capital, Sanaa, and Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, this week to try to negotiate a solution.A U.S. official said the United States was urging the Saudis and Emiratis to accept the deal. A diplomatic source at the United Nations said the coalition had informed Griffiths it would study the proposal. A Western diplomat said the United Nations would oversee income from the port and make sure it gets to Yemen’s central bank. The understanding is for Yemeni state employees to remain working alongside the United Nations.
“The Saudis have given some positive signals on this as well to the U.N. envoy over the last 24 hours. The Emiratis also gave positive murmurs but the deal still has a little way to go,” the Western diplomat said. In a statement on Thursday, Griffiths said he was “encouraged by the constructive engagement” of the Houthis and would be holding meetings with Yemen’s internationally backed president, Abd Rabbuh Mansour Hadi. There was no immediate comment from the Saudi and Emirati embassies in Washington. Houthi representatives could not be reached for immediate comment.