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Op-Ed Special
Arab Coalition’s Efforts in Liberation of Hodeida
Special Contribution
By Abdulla Saif Alnuaimi

UAE Ambassador to S. Korea
Abdulla Saif Alnuaimi

Hodeida is one of the most important provinces in Yemen. It has the second largest port in the country after Aden. Most of the imports of foodstuffs, oil and other supplies enter the country through this port. It is the second province in terms of population after Taez. In its recent history, Hodeida has been an influential center in Yemen’s economy and politics.

Hodeida has been under the capture of the Houthi militias for more than three years. The Hodeida port located in this province has been exploited by the Houthis to prolong the war and the suffering of the Yemeni people. The port is been used for smuggling conventional arms and ballistic missiles as well as other supplies to the rebels. The revenues of the port are used in financing the rebels’ war against the legitimate government. In addition, the rebels seize international and regional humanitarian supplies arriving to the port that aim at alleviating the humanitarian crisis suffered by Yemeni people.

Instead of reaching the targeted people, regional and international aid found its way to the black market. This has had a devastating impact on humanitarian situation in the country. The deteriorating situation as detailed above has forced millions of Yemenis to flee the country searching for their security and safety.

In order to overcome the current deteriorating situation, the legitimate Yemeni government requested the international community to intervene. Thus, the intervention of the Saudi-led Arab Coalition in Yemen was in response to that request. Likewise, the operations launched by the Coalition last week are also an answer to that call. In addition, the ongoing operations to liberate Hodeida are also in compliance with relevant UN Security Council Resolutions including 2216, 2204, 2201 and 2140.

As everyone knows, while UN efforts to negotiate a solution to the issue of Hodeida have been ongoing for over a year, the Houthi rebels have repeatedly refused the UN Envoy’s proposals to hand over the port, including the latest push by UN Special Envoy, Martin Griffith, to hand it over to UN officials.

Thus, the operations by the Arab Coalition are aimed at allowing the legitimate Yemeni government to restore security and stability to the strategic port and to alleviate the humanitarian crisis in the country as well as to break the deadlock in the political process. The Coalition had no option but to pursue this military solution in order to protect innocent Yemeni citizens and to ensure a safe passage of aid shipments as a result of the Houthis’ failure to accept a political solution.

The seizure of the port from the rebels is aimed at tipping the scales in favor of reaching a political solution, and reigniting the momentum to the stalled UN negotiations. In launching the operations, the Coalition remains committed to working with the international community to ensure that the port’s liberation will have an immediate impact on increasing the volume of much-needed humanitarian aid to the Yemeni people. By increasing the efficiency of the port, and ensuring that the disbursement of aid will no longer be controlled and abused by the rebels, Hodeida’s liberation will serve to alleviate the needs of the Yemeni people and provide new momentum for finding a long-term solution to the crisis.

In parallel with the operations, the Coalition is also executing a comprehensive humanitarian plan for Hodeida to meet the immediate and long-term humanitarian needs of the Yemenis in the liberated areas. It is worth-noting that, before launching the operation the Coalition notified the United Nations and other Non-Governmental Organizations of its planned actions and has ensured the safe passage of their staff from Hodeida ahead of time.

Eventually, the liberation of Hodeida will play a significant role in alleviating the humanitarian crisis experienced by the Yemeni people. This encourages the Yemenis to stay in their homeland. In addition, the liberation of Hodeida will positively contribute to the security of commercial ships that sail through the strategic Bab-el-Mandeb strait, including Korean ships, against the attacks by pirates.

By and large, the efforts made by the Coalition in Yemen are for the good of the Yemeni people. It is for the purpose of helping the legitimate government to restore peace and security in the country as well as to facilitate the entry and distribution of humanitarian aid to the people. Having this opportunity, I should also mention that the legitimate government in Yemen is the one who is directly involved in restoring internal security in the country including the overseeing of local prisons. It is not right that the United Arab Emirates (UAE) as a member of the Coalition is involved a way or another in the running of local prisons in Yemen, as falsely mentioned in some news articles. The Coalition, including the UAE, has nothing to do with these prisons. The Coalition’s role is far beyond these kinds of tasks.

The above writer, H.E. Abdulla Saif Alnuaimi, is the Ambassador of the United Arab Emirates to the Republic of Korea.

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