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Houthis Accuse Saudi Coalition Of Blocking Oil Ships From Yemen’s Ports

A rally was held outside the office of the United Nations in Yemen’s capital Sanaa on Monday to protest against measures of the Saudi-led coalition to hold and prevent ships carrying oil products from docking at Yemen’s ports, the Houthi-controlled Saba news agency reports as the warring parties in the nearly four-year-long conflict hold UN-brokered peace talks in Sweden.

The Iran-aligned Houthis rebels have been fighting a Saudi-led Arab coalition in Yemen since 2015.

The United Nations (UN) is ready to help run Yemen’s biggest Red Sea port Hodeidah—the only one under Houthi control—to protect the people of the port city from further suffering, the UN’s Special Envoy for Yemen, Martin Griffiths, said at the end of November after visiting the port city.

The Houthis have been targeting ships and oil tankers off the Hodeidah port they control. In July, the Houthis targeted a Saudi oil tanker in the Bab el Mandeb strait off the Hodeidah port, causing minor damage.  

The Yemeni government and the Houthi opposition gathered last week at UN-sponsored political talks outside Stockholm, Sweden, aimed at ending the devastating war.

The resumption of the political process after two and a half years is an “important milestone,” Griffiths said.

The two sides in the talks—the Iran-aligned Houthis and the government of Yemeni President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, backed by a Saudi-led military coalition—met on Sunday for the first direct talks to discuss a prisoner exchange.

“We are very optimistic about having a breakthrough on the prisoners issue ... we have exchanged some lists in the past but each side needs to update them,” Askar Ahmed Zayl, a delegate from Hadi’s government, told Reuters.

This round of talks is expected to last until December 13. According to a diplomat at the talks, the round could be considered successful if the parties reach a general agreement to de-escalate hostilities, on prisoner exchanges, and on holding another round of talks.   

By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com

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