Tribesmen loyal to Houthi rebels hold up their weapons as they attend a gathering to show their support Image Credit: AP

Manama: The foreign ministers of Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom and the United States have condemned Iran’s de-stabilising effect on Yemen and the Al Houthi drone attack of January 19 on Al Anad airport.

In a joint declaration by the ministers issued in Warsaw where they discuss the situation in Yemen, the ministers underlined that the firing of ballistic missiles and Unmanned Aerial Vehicles by Houthi forces into neighbouring countries posed threats to regional security and prolonged the conflict.

Iran’s de-stabilising effect on Yemen, through the illicit provision of finance, ballistic missiles and advanced weaponry to Al Houthis, and in the wider region, was also discussed.

In this regard, the ministers noted the UN Panel of Experts’ finding that Iran has provided advanced weaponry to Al Houthis in violation of UNSCR 2216 and UNSCR 2231.

The ministers expressed full support for Saudi Arabia and its legitimate national security concerns and called for an immediate end to such attacks by Al Houthi forces and their allies.

In their declaration following the meeting and posted by the Saudi Press Agency, the ministers reiterated their commitment to a comprehensive political solution to the conflict in Yemen and their endorsement of the agreements reached in Sweden by the Yemeni parties in December 2018.

The ministers also welcomed the adoption of Security Council Resolution 2451 and Resolution 2452, which support the implementation of these agreements and build on the political framework set out in Resolution 2216, the Gulf Cooperation Council Initiative and the National Dialogue Conference outcomes.

In this regard, the ministers reiterated their full support for the tireless efforts of the UN Special Envoy.

The ministers called on the Yemeni parties to implement rapidly and fully the agreements reached in December 2018 for the sake of the Yemeni people.

The ministers said they welcomed the preliminary agreement reached on the deployment of forces in Hodeidah by the Redeployment Coordination Committee (RCC) and called on Al Houthis and the Government of Yemen to confirm their agreement to this plan.

They also called on them to work urgently with the RCC and the UN Mission to support the Hodeidah Agreement (UNMHA) to implement the mutual redeployment of forces from the city of Hodeidah and the ports of Hodeidah, Salif and Ras Issa in compliance with their obligations.

The ministers stressed that there should be no further delaying tactics concerning implementation of the Hodeidah Agreement. The ministers agreed to monitor the situation, coordinate closely and meet again if there are any further delays.

The ministers called on the Yemeni parties in their areas of control, in particular Al Houthis who still control the ports of Hodeidah, Salif and Ras Isa, to ensure the security and safety of UNMHA personnel, and to facilitate the unhindered and expeditious movement into and within Yemen of personnel, equipment, provisions and essential supplies in accordance with UNSCR 2452.

In this regard, the ministers expressed concern about the bureaucratic impediments puts in place by Al Houthis that are hampering UNMHA’s vital work. They also called on the Yemeni parties to redouble their efforts to finalise arrangement for implementation of the prisoner exchange agreement and to establish the Taiz Joint Coordination Committee.

In efforts to reduce illicit fuel imports by Al Houthis, the ministers discussed steps to curb activity facilitating Iranian oil flows whist at the same time, ensuring fuel flows through Red Sea ports.

The ministers also discussed the urgent humanitarian crisis which the conflict has created and reiterated the importance of stabilising the economy, keeping food and fuel coming into the country and supporting economic confidence building measures as part of the peace process.

In this regard, the ministers welcomed the deposit of $2.2 billion by Saudi Arabia to the Central Bank of Yemen, their financial contribution to oil derivatives and the $570 million contribution paid by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates to tackle food security and pay teachers’ salaries.

The ministers also welcomed the Yemeni government’s determination to resume regular payment of the salaries of civil servants, teachers and health workers across the country and called on Al Houthis to cooperate with this process.

In light of recent reports of illegal interference in the operations of a number of local banks in Sanaa and the areas of banking staff, the ministers condemned these actions and firmly requested Al Houthis to lift the imposed regulations on local banks in Sanaa that impede commercial imports and desperately needed humanitarian assistance.

The ministers also encouraged the government of Yemen to continue to issue letters of credits to all major food importers, making the process clearer and quicker.

The ministers agreed that there is a window of opportunity to end the conflict in Yemen and to redouble their efforts to reach a political solution.