The UN-sponsored face-to-face talks were held in the Jordanian capital, Amman, on Monday, Reuters reported, adding that the two sides were mainly to discuss the mechanisms of sharing out the future ravenous earned from the three flash-point ports of Salif, Ras Isa and Hudaydah, which have been under a tight siege by forces of former government, led by ex-president Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi, since June last year.
“The UN and its special envoy are sponsoring talks in Amman ... to discuss the issue of salaries and to make the economic situation neutral,” said Mohammed Ali al-Houthi, head of the Houthis' Supreme Revolutionary Committee, in a tweet on Monday, Press TV reported.
More than 70 percent of Yemen’s imports used to pass through the docks of Hudaydah, a lifeline for the war-ravaged country's crippled economy. Salif was used for unloading all main types of grain and Ras Isa, a vital oil terminal, used for exporting Ma’rib light crude oil.
The lengthy siege pushed tens of thousands of people in Yemen to the verge of starvation and crippled the country’s economy. In an attempt to prevent the humanitarian situation from further deterioration and to avert a full-scale assault by the Saudi-led coalition on the ports, Houthis signed a UN-brokered agreement with the ex-government in Sweden last December.
The warring sides agreed to pull out their forces from the ports in a two-stage process, the first phase of which from the Houthi side was unilaterally commenced on Saturday and is due to be completed on Tuesday.
In the first stage, Houthis are to draw back five kilometers from the three ports until Tuesday, while forces of the former government, backed by troops of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), currently massed four kilometers from Hudaydah, are to withdraw one kilometer from two other flash-point ports.
The latter side, however, has so far firmly refused to retreat and Houthis denounced it for its provocative refusal, prompting Houthi spokesman Mohammed Abdulsalam on Saturday to strongly call on the UN and the UN Security Council to press Hadi and the Saudi-led coalition to move in line according to the Stockholm agreement.
Back in September 2016, Hadi ordered a decree to unilaterally relocate the Central Bank of Yemen (CBY) from Houthi-held capital Sana’a to Aden, a southern port that currently serves as the so-called temporary “capital” of Yemen and the base for Hadi’s government.
By relocating the central bank, all Yemen’s ravenous were funneled into the so-called central bank in Aden, creating further deterioration in the humanitarian situation in Sana’a and other Houthi-run cities and towns. More than one million civil servants also lost their jobs as the result of the controversial move.
Under the agreement, the revenues of the three key ports would be gathered in Hudaydah branch of the central bank to help pay public wages. However, the share of each side, the Houthis and Hadi’s forces, must be discussed.
According to the Stockholm agreement, the UN will help in the management of the three key ports, which will be operating under control of Yemen’s Red Sea Port Corporation and local coast guards. The world body also will assist in inspection of ships.
In the second phase of the redeployment, both sides would pull troops 18 kilometers outside Hudaydah and heavy weapons 30 kilometers away.
Leading a coalition of its allies, Saudi Arabia invaded Yemen in March 2015 in an attempt to reinstall Hadi, who had resigned amid popular discontent and fled to Riyadh, and to crush the Houthi Ansarullah movement, which has been significantly helping the Yemeni army against a Saudi-led military coalition for the past four years.
The imposed war initially consisted of an aerial campaign, but was later coupled with a naval blockade and the deployment of ground mercenaries to Yemen. Furthermore, armed militia forces loyal to Hadi, in line with invaders, launch frequent attacks against Yemeni people in regions held by Houthis.
The aggression is estimated to have left 56,000 Yemenis dead.
The Saudi-led war has also taken a heavy toll on the country’s infrastructure, destroying hospitals, schools, and factories. The UN has said that a record 22.2 million Yemenis are in dire need of food, including 8.4 million threatened by severe hunger. According to the world body, Yemen is suffering from the most severe famine in more than 100 years.
A number of Western countries, the US, France, and Britain in particular, are also accused of being complicit in the ongoing aggression as they supply the Riyadh regime with advanced weapons and military equipment as well as logistical and intelligence assistance.