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International community must help stop Houthi militias: Yemeni president

The world must do more to stop the flow of arms and resources to Iran-backed Houthi militias, Rashid Al-Alimi, the chairman of Yemen’s Presidential Leadership Council, said on Thursday.

Al-Alimi, the opening speaker at the 8th plenary meeting of the 78th UN General Assembly’s general debate in New York, strongly condemned human rights violations committed by the Houthis since the conflict erupted in Yemen almost a decade ago.

He first called for “an end to the suffering of the Yemeni people,” and commended the international community for supporting “the constitutional legitimacy, sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of Yemen and noninterference in its international affairs.”

Al-Alimi said that despite attempted compromises and efforts by the government, “peace remains elusive” in Yemen.

“We do hope that the militias will recognize the truth — that only a state that is based on the rule of law and equal citizenship will help to make sure that our country is stable and safe. These are the demands of the legitimate government,” he said.

Al-Alimi warned that if Houthi militias are allowed to continue their insurgency unchecked, “our country may become a hotspot for exporting terrorism.”

He added: “If we deal with the militias as a de facto authority, this means that oppression, the violation of freedoms — we will not be able to eradicate this behavior easily.”

Houthi militias are using peace agreements to prolong the conflict and gain time to gather more resources, he said.

Sustaining peace and ending the war is the only way to guarantee rights, freedom and equality for the Yemeni people, and build good relations with other Gulf Cooperation Council countries, Al-Alimi said.

He called for the strengthening of the Yemeni economy via the country’s central bank in order to improve service conditions in Yemen and prevent funds from falling into the hands of the Houthis.

“The institutions of Yemen will remain underfunded and will not have the necessary resources to deal with these cross-border challenges” if funds are not directed to recognized governmental financial institutions, Al-Alimi said.

He ended his speech with a call for the international community to intervene in Yemen to end Houthi activity in the region.

“Every delay from the international community to be firmer when it comes to the Yemeni dossier will increase losses, and Houthi militias will continue with their cross-border threats. They will continue to commit grave violations of human rights,” he said.

Al-Alimi said that although the Yemeni budget and economy was strong enough to allow for the provision of adequate services for the Yemeni people at the beginning of the war, Houthi attacks on oil facilities had halted the pre-war economic momentum.

“Houthi militias recently escalated their threats, targeting navigation routes in the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden. They’ve used these as military areas. They’ve tested new weapons. They’ve targeted commercial ships and tankers. These militias, supported by the Iranian regime, continue to destabilize the region,” he said.

Al-Alimi said that his speech took place on the ninth anniversary of the Houthi takeover in Yemen. He called on UN member states to commit to an arms embargo to stop Houthi access to weaponry such as ballistic missiles and drones.

He also thanked Saudi Arabia for a “generous donation of $1.2 billion to support our public budget,” saying that without the grant, “we would have been unable to honor our obligations, including the disbursement of salaries.”

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