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Yemen’s Houthis Claim Saudi-Backed Coalition Looted $13B In Oil

Yemen’s Houthi-led government has accused the country’s Saudi-backed coalition forces of siphoning off $13 billion in Yemeni oil revenues over the past five years, with reports claiming that another $180 million in looted oil left the country this week on a Greek oil tanker. 

In a tweet published by local media sources, Houthi National Negotiation Delegation official Abdul Malik Al-Ajri claimed that the $13 billion “looted” from Yemen’s oil revenues is based on figures from an OAPEC (Organization of Arab Petroleum Exporting Countries) and maritime traffic data. 

Yemen has been embroiled in a civil conflict since 2014, when Houthi insurgents, backed by Iran, attempted to overthrow the Sunni government, taking over the capital and the country’s largest city. A coalition led by Saudi Arabia launched a counteroffensive in 2015, and the conflict has continued since and is considered a proxy war largely between Saudi Arabia and Iran. The Houthis now control most of Yemen’s north, while a four-month ceasefire deal is expiring. 

Al-Ajri’s accusations were echoed in July by Yemeni Oil Company spokesman Issam Al-Mutawakkil, who claimed that Yemen’s oil revenues are diverted to the Saudi National Commercial Bank, depriving the country of its oil wealth.

"Yemen as an oil producing nation is suffering the same as countries that don't possess any oil wealth", adding that "Yemen doesn't benefit from the crude oil revenues that are exported to the Saudi National Commercial Bank,” Al-Mutawakkill said. 

Yemen produces oil in the provinces of Marib, Shabwa and Hadhramaut, and the revenues from those operations bypass Yemen’s Central Bank, diverted to accounts controlled by officials tied to the Saudi-backed coalition, he added. 

On Thursday, the Yemen Press Agency, cited by the Middle East Monitor, alleged that Saudi coalition-backed sources had recently sold another two million barrels of Yemen’s Al-Masila crude worth $180 million at current prices, and is expected to be loaded this week on a Greek vessel at the port of Dhaba. 

Also on Thursday, the United Nations announced that both sides in this conflict had agreed to extend a truce for two months, with the current four-month ceasefire deal coming to an end and sparking fears of a return to bloodshed. 

By Charles Kennedy for Oilprice.com

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