In an interview with French daily Le Figaro published on Tuesday, Abdul-Malik Badreddin al-Houthi said he had informed Martin Griffiths, the UN special envoy for Yemen, about his readiness to place Hudaydah under the world body’s supervision.
“We told the UN envoy, Martin Griffiths, that we are not rejecting the role of supervision and logistics that the UN wants to hold in the port, but on the condition that the aggression against Hudaydah stops,” he said.
Backed by Saudi-led airstrikes, Emirati forces and militants loyal to Yemen’s former president, Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi, launched the Hudaydah offensive on June 13 despite international warnings that it would compound the impoverished nation’s humanitarian crisis.
The Saudi-led coalition claims that the Houthis are using Hudaydah for weapons delivery, an allegation rejected by the fighters.
The coalition of aggressors has, however, failed to make any major gains in Hudaydah in the face of stiff resistance from Houthi fighters and their allied forces.
On the diplomatic front, Griffiths has reportedly been pushing for a deal in which the Houthis place the Hudaydha port under the supervision of a UN-monitored committee.
The UAE, however, dismisses such an arrangement, under which Hudaydah would remain under the control of the Houthis and their allied forces, demanding their unconditional withdrawal.
“It is strange to demand that the Yemenis pull out of their city of Hudaydah for handing it over to the United Arab Emirates, which is committing an act of aggression against us. Such a demand violates international conventions,” the Houthi chief said. “It is as if the United Kingdom called on the French to abandon Paris or another city and give it up to the British. It is not logical.”
He further censured France for “contributing to Arab-led aggression” in Yemen by selling weapons to the aggressors. “In Yemen, France should support peace, not war,” he added. “Many Western countries consider wars in the light of their economic interests, to the detriment of human rights.”
Hudaydah is a major lifeline to more than 20 million Yemenis, most of whom are in need of humanitarian assistance due to a deadly Saudi-led war on the country launched in March 2015.
The Saudi-led war has killed and injured over 600,000 civilians, according to the latest figures released by the Yemeni Ministry of Human Rights. Besides France, the US and the UK have also been providing Saudi Arabia with military equipment during the military campaign, drawing strong criticisms from the international community and prominent human rights groups.