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Al-Alimi to the Houthis: Lift the Siege on Yemenis First

Asharq Al-Awsat

Recalling a history of mediations and support, the head of Yemen’s Presidential Leadership Council, Dr. Rashad Al-Alimi, is counting on “the experience of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia” to achieve peace between the Yemeni government and the Houthis.

In an interview with Asharq Al-Awsat from the Maashiq presidential palace, which is located on the waterfront of the Indian Ocean in the temporary Yemeni capital of Aden, Al-Alimi addressed the Houthis, saying: “Lift the siege on Taiz first.”

According to Al-Alimi, Houthi attacks in the Red Sea benefited Iran and not Gaza.

He stressed that Saudi Arabia has made great efforts to establish peace in Yemen during the past two years, noting that the Kingdom “tried to persuade [the Houthi militias] to engage in the peace process [with the government].”

Throughout the two years that Al-Alimi spent at the head of the Yemeni Presidential Leadership Council, he was keen to respond to calls for peace.

He said: “We announced it explicitly after the formation of the council, that it is a peace council and not a war council, and we blessed Saudi Arabia’s efforts, because peace is a Yemeni, regional and international interest.”

Al-Alimi heads a council that includes seven members from various anti-Houthi political forces and military formations. He succeeded former President Abed Rabbuh Mansour Hadi on April 7, 2022, in an attempt to form a “legitimate government” to administer the country and resolve the conflict.

Saudi mediation efforts, with Omani participation, resulted in what Al-Alimi described as “a roadmap on which a basis for the peace process can be built.”

The head of the Yemeni Presidential Leadership Council told Asharq Al-Awsat he expected the Saudi roadmap to push towards a comprehensive peace process, based on the Gulf Initiative, the outcomes of the national dialogue, and the resolutions of international legitimacy represented in Security Council Resolution 2216.

The Resolution calls on all Yemeni parties, especially the Houthis, to fully implement Resolutions 2201 and 2015 and to refrain from taking further unilateral measures that could undermine the political transition process in Yemen.

War in Gaza

Al-Alimi stated that Yemen was affected by the war in Gaza, stressing that establishing “an independent Palestinian state within the framework of a solution in accordance with the Arab Peace Initiative is the only way to end the conflict.”

He also held Iran “responsible for the region’s crises,” noting that militias affiliated with Tehran in Yemen, Syria, and other countries were seeking to fulfill Iranian interests.

Militarization of the sea

The Houthis are trying to “evade” their international obligations, for the sake of “supporting Gaza,” according to Al-Alimi, who compared Israel’s siege of the Gaza Strip to the Houthis’ siege of the Yemeni city of Taiz.

He said, addressing the Houthis: “Evading will not help… Lift the siege on the Yemenis first.”

He added that Houthi attacks on ships led to the militarization of the Red Sea and the formation of broad alliances to counter these threats, causing a deterioration in the livelihoods of Yemeni citizens and an increase in prices and shipping costs.

Restoring state authority

Although Al-Alimi considered the US and British strikes on Houthi bases a means to “weaken the Iranian-backed militia,” he expressed belief that the “final solution is not through airstrikes.”

“The threat comes from the ground… and to confront it, state authority must be restored in all regions, with the support of the international community.”

“This is the only way to secure the Red Sea,” he emphasized.

Commenting on the Houthis’ recent announcement of minting a 100 Yemeni riyal coin, Al-Alimi stressed that this currency was illegal, noting the Central Bank in Aden has taken several decisions to confront it, with the support of the legitimate government.

The head of the Leadership Council confirmed his intention to “face this action by the Houthis.” He noted that the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank have communicated with the legitimate government, pointing to upcoming meetings to discuss the measures that the international community will take to support the Central Bank in Aden.

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