tribesmen loyal to Al Houthi rebels
In this December 13, 2018, file photo, tribesmen loyal to Al Houthi rebels hold up their weapons as they attend a gathering to show their support for the ongoing peace talks in Sanaa, Yemen. Image Credit: AP

United Nations: Yemen’s government and its allies Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates asked the UN Security Council on Thursday to turn up the pressure on Al Houthi rebels to uphold a ceasefire deal.

In a letter sent to the council, the three governments accused the Al Houthis of violating the ceasefire in the port city of Hodeida 970 times since it came into force on December 18.

They asked the council to “impress upon the Al Houthis, and their Iranian backers, that they will be held responsible if their continued failure to comply... leads to the collapse of the Stockholm agreement,” said the letter seen by AFP.

Yemen’s Saudi-backed government and the Al Houthis agreed to the ceasefire and a redeployment of forces from Hodeida during UN-brokered talks in Sweden last month.

But deadlines for the pullback of forces and a prisoner swap have slipped, fueling worries that the Stockholm agreement may be in jeopardy.

UAE minister of state for foreign affairs Anwar Gargash met with UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Thursday to discuss problems in implementing the Stockholm deal.

“We understand that we need to exercise patience, but it can’t be infinite,” Gargash told reporters after this meeting.

Gargash raised concerns of a flareup on the ground, triggered by a Al Houthi provocation.

“We do not want to launch an offensive” in Hodeida, said the minister.

“What we want is for the UN and the international community to exert influence and to do that work” and create pressure on the Al Houthis to comply with the ceasefire deal, he said.

The Al Houthis have accused the Saudi-led coalition of violating its commitments under the Stockholm agreement.

The council met behind closed doors to hear a report from UN envoy Martin Griffiths who has wrapped up a new round of shuttle diplomacy.

For nearly four years, Yemen’s Iran-backed Al Houthi rebels have been locked in a war with a regional pro-government alliance led by Riyadh.

The conflict has triggered what the UN calls the world’s worst humanitarian crisis, with millions of people at risk of starvation.