SMA NEWS – GENEVA
President Aidarous Qassem Al-Zubaidi, President of the Southern Transitional Council (STC) and Vice Chairman of the Presidential Leadership Council (PLC), said in an interview with Reuters on Tuesday: The U.S.-led coalition meant to safeguard commercial traffic in the Red Sea against attacks by Yemen’s Iran-aligned Houthis is weak because regional powerhouses Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Egypt did not take part.
The Houthis have been attacking shipping in the Red Sea to protest against Israel’s bombardment of Gaza, a war that threatens to spread across the Middle East.
“This Bab al-Mandab corridor is of interest to the whole world and to the region, so regional intervention is key,” Aidarous al-Zubaidi, Yemen’s vice president and head of the Southern Transitional Council, told Reuters in an interview, referring to the narrow strait at the entrance to the Red Sea.
He was speaking at the annual World Economic Forum (WEF) meeting in Davos.
Zubaidi, who opposes the Houthis, said the turmoil created by the attacks had taken a heavy toll Yemen’s economy, which had already taken a beating during the Houthis’ conflict against a Saudi-led coalition.
Yemen’s Houthi movement will expand its targets in the Red Sea region to include U.S. ships, an official from the group said on Monday, as it vowed to keep up attacks after U.S. and British strikes on its sites in Yemen.
Attacks by the Houthis on ships in the area since November have impacted companies and alarmed major powers in an escalation of Israel’s more than three-month war with Hamas militants in Gaza. The group says it is acting in solidarity with Palestinians.
The Houthi movement, which controls the most populous areas of Yemen after nearly a decade of war against the Western-backed and Saudi-led coalition, has emerged as a strong supporter of the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas in its war against Israel.
Zubaidi said the Houthi attacks on the Red Sea froze efforts to reach a peace deal in Yemen.
“How will there be a peace process with strikes on commercial ships, how will that happen?” he said.
Late last year, the Yemeni government and Houthis both committed to steps towards a ceasefire.
The Houthis, who control north Yemen, have been fighting against since 2015 in a conflict that has killed hundreds of thousands and left 80% of Yemen’s population dependent on humanitarian aid.
The Saudi-led coalition intervened against the Houthi movement after it ousted Yemen’s internationally recognised, Saudi-backed government from Sanaa, the capital, in 2014.
“The economic situation is very difficult. The rise in freight costs made food and medicine prices go up,” said Zubaidi.
“The devaluation of the currency and living conditions means we are facing a humanitarian crisis.”
Reporting by Maha El Dahan in Davos; Additional reporting by Mohamed Ghobari in Aden; Writing by Nadine Awadalla and Michael Georgy; Editing by Nick Macfie
For more details, click here under the link for the full interview: