Yemen regime vows to wrest vital aid port of Hodeidah out of Houthi hands, give it to neutral party

The Japan Times 

CAIRO – The Saudi-backed Yemeni government will not allow its Houthi foes to keep the Red Sea port of Hodeidah, the information minister said, underlining its intention to remove the vital aid delivery point from the control of the Iran-aligned group. The United Nations has proposed that Hodeidah, where 80 percent of food imports arrive, should be handed to a neutral party, to smooth the flow of humanitarian relief and prevent the port being engulfed by Yemen's two-year-old war. The government of President Abed Rabbu Mansour Hadi accuses the Houthis of using the port to smuggle in weapons and of collecting custom duties on goods, which they use to finance the war. "The government will not accept that Houthi control of Hodeidah port continues, or that humanitarian aid is obstructed or that its revenues are used for the military effort while state employees have not been paid for 10 months," the minister, Muammar al-Iryani, told Reuters on a visit to Cairo. Iryani repeated that the government had accepted a proposal by the U.N. envoy to Yemen, Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed, to hand over control of Hodeidah to a neutral party as a way of avoiding military action.

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