TEHRAN (Press Shia Agency) – Yemen’s Houthi Ansarullah movement will on Saturday start to unilaterally redeploy forces out of three key ports, the United Nations and a Houthi spokesman said, a move to pave the way for political negotiations to end Saudi Arabia’s four-year war on Yemen.
The statement from the UN’s Redeployment Coordination Committee (RCC) said the Houthis would make an “initial unilateral redeployment” between May 11 and May 14 from the ports of Saleef, which is used for grain, and Ras Isa, used for oil, as well as the country’s main port of Hudaydah, Reuters reported.
The withdrawal would begin on May 11 at 10 a.m. (0700 GMT), the head of the Houthis’ Supreme Revolutionary Committee, Mohammed Ali al-Houthi, said on Twitter on Saturday.
The RCC committee, led by Danish Lieutenant General Michael Lollesgaard, head of the UN observer team in Hudaydah, drew up the redeployment plans under a pact agreed last December in Stockholm, Sweden, the first major breakthrough in peace efforts to end the Saudi-led war that has killed tens of thousands and pushed Yemen to the brink of famine.
At Stockholm, it was hoped the redeployment would happen in January, but its implementation has repeatedly stalled on a lack of trust between the two sides.
Al-Houthi on Saturday said his group’s intention to unilaterally redeploy from the ports was a result of the Saudi coalition’s refusal to implement the Stockholm Agreement.
The UN mission will monitor the redeployment, a first step towards concluding the peace agreement, the UN statement said, adding that it must be followed by “the committed, transparent and sustained actions of the parties to fully deliver on their obligations”.
The redeployment should allow the United Nations to take “a leading role in supporting the Red Sea Ports Corporation in managing the ports” and to enhance UN checks on cargoes.
The Saudi-backed group did not state whether their side would make a reciprocal move.
They are also expected to leave positions around the outskirts of Hudaydah in the initial redeployment, before a second phase in which both sides pull back further.