Yemen’s civil war has killed an estimated 400,000 people, more than half of whom have died from starvation and disease. Meanwhile, the war spilled over into Saudi territory, as the Houthis bombarded numerous oil installations and civilian targets in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates with drones and long-range missiles. This war also threatens an environmental disaster in the Red Sea, where Houthi rebels are preventing access to a dilapidated oil tank carrying 1.1 million barrels of crude oil and parked outside the port of Ras Issa.
US political analyst Bobby Ghosh says any prospect of an end to hostilities, however small, should be welcome. “We are witnessing a possible decision to change the course of this 8-year conflict,” said Hans Grandberg, the UN special envoy for Yemen, during a briefing at the UN Security Council. UN.
Josh adds that if the cessation of hostilities and secret communications between the Houthis and Saudi Arabia is half the full cup, then the empty half of the cup is that the behind-the-scenes talks between the Houthis and Saudi Arabia allow to the first party to reconfigure its military arsenal, as happened during a shorter truce in 2019, since the end of In a UN-brokered ceasefire in early October, the Houthis received new supplies from Iran, their main ally. Given the length of the Yemeni coasts, large quantities of ammunition can be diverted to Yemen.
The rebels are also strengthening their political position, recently adopting new rules that restrict women’s rights and crack down on criticism. The Houthis have not shown the slightest goodwill by agreeing to enter into direct talks with the internationally recognized government of Yemen. They also continue to prevent the export of Yemeni oil and deprive the country of its vital income. They have yet to allow aid agencies to reach the millions of Yemenis who need help. About three-quarters of Yemen’s 33 million people depend on humanitarian aid. While there are approximately 4.3 million internally displaced people in Yemen.
To a large extent, the Houthi leaders will continue to launch a barrage of threats against the Yemeni government and its allies in the Gulf, the United States and Israel, as well as the oil companies operating in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.
Josh, an Indian-American writer and former editor of Time magazine, asks how to assess the benefit of back channels of communication between the Houthis and the Saudis?
He attempts to respond by saying that the first significant step towards advancing peace would be the unconditional lifting of restrictions on humanitarian aid.
“The problem is particularly linked to the catchment areas under the control of the Houthis, where their authorities try to impose specific contractors on relief agencies and impose restrictions on the movement of aid workers, or seek to one way or another to influence relief operations,” said the head of the UN Relief Agency.
Another role that recognized government must play is to remove complex bureaucratic conditions that threaten or prevent donors from providing aid.
The truth is that Yemenis need urgent humanitarian aid. According to the World Food Programme, around 17.8 million Yemenis do not have access to clean water, sanitation or public health services. Additionally, 17 million Yemenis lack adequate food supplies and more than 6.1 million Yemenis face severe levels of food insecurity.
The second step required is for the Houthis to engage in direct talks with other parties in Yemen, including the government and other anti-rebel groups. And the talks that are currently taking place through Omani mediators. But any credible ceasefire needs all parties involved around the table.
As for the third stage, it is represented by the need for the Houthis and the international community to act strongly to secure the floating oil tank SFO Safer in the Red Sea. This reservoir has been abandoned since 2015, as rebels exploit the threat of environmental disaster to try to blackmail the international community.
The United Nations has raised $75 million to fund the process of dismantling the reservoir and preventing crude oil from leaking from it and causing an environmental disaster, with a treatment cost estimated at around $20 billion.
Despite the Houthis’ indication of their desire to allow the dismantling process to take place, there is no real movement at sea. Khazzan Safir has become an example for Yemen itself: talking is good , but if there is no action, no one should breathe a sigh of relief.
The Houthi group stipulates that oil from the reservoir must be sold for its benefit, which the Yemeni government strongly rejects, which has dragged on the reservoir crisis for years. The UN is trying to sell oil and distribute its revenue to both sides, as a compromise that ends the crisis.
The European Union Mission and a number of EU Ambassadors to Yemen have recently warned of an environmental and humanitarian disaster in Yemen due to the oil tanker Safer anchored with its cargo of crude in the port of Hodeidah on the west coast of Yemen, after years of being without maintenance.
In a joint statement with the EU mission, the ambassadors of European Union countries to Yemen said they were “gravely concerned about the status of the Safer floating tank off Hodeidah on the Red Sea”.
“The tanker has been without maintenance for five years, and is now in imminent danger, which will lead to a major health, environmental and economic disaster that will affect millions of people in Yemen and beyond,” the statement said.
According to the statement, “scientific studies have shown that a major oil spill is likely to cause the port of Hodeidah to be put out of service, which will affect the food security of millions of Yemenis.”
He added: “Any leakage will greatly affect the Red Sea fisheries and the marine ecosystem, and could affect maritime trade”, noting that “there is a possibility of losing the buoyancy of the oil, which will complicate any process of cleaning”.
And the statement added: “In the event of a fire or explosion on the tanker, a huge cloud of toxic smoke will form, which will have serious effects on Yemenis, as well as on agricultural crops, and will cause pressure on the healthcare system, which is mainly exhausted due to war, cholera and Corona.”
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