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Yemen gov’t threatens to close Sanaa airport over Houthi ‘economic war’

The internationally-recognised Yemeni government has threatened to shut down Sanaa International Airport, just two months after the first commercial flight departed from the capital in six years. Last month also saw the first commercial flights in seven years to Saudi Arabia for the Hajj.

According to Arab News, the Saudi-backed government, headed by the Presidential Leadership Council (PLC), has also said it will tighten existing restrictions on ship movements to Hudaydah port, unless the Houthi-led National Salvation Government (NSG) halts its “economic war.”

Moammar Al-Eryani, Yemen’s minister of information, said recent economic measures carried out by the Sanaa authorities exacerbate the country’s dire humanitarian crisis and undermine Yemen’s peace prospects.

Taking to Twitter, Eryani warned that if the Houthis do not cease their military and economic “escalation”, the Yemeni government will start restricting access to the airport and Hudaydah port: “We warn against the continuation of the Houthi militia in its escalation, which threatens to collapse the economic situation and exacerbates human suffering.”

“We affirm that the government will be forced to review the steps it has taken within the terms of the UN truce, and reconsider the facilities related to the operation of the port of Hudaydah and Sanaa airport, and take measures that preserve the interests and capabilities of the Yemeni people.”

In accordance with a UN-brokered truce, the Yemeni government allowed commercial flights to resume from Sanaa and also facilitated the arrival of fuel ships to Hudaydah port in exchange for the Houthi forces to de-escalate combat and to lift their siege on the city of Taiz, and to coordinate with the Yemeni government to resolve economic issues in NSG-controlled areas, which constitutes the majority of Yemen’s most densely populated regions.

Last month the NSG announced that the Saudi-led coalition granted Sanaa permission to launch three additional flights from Sanaa to the Jordanian capital Amman. However, Raed Jabal, the Undersecretary of the Sanaa-based Civil Aviation Authority insisted that the coalition’s attempts to limit flights between Yemen and Jordan contribute to the “suffering of the Yemenis.”

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