The Hodeidah agreement, beginning or an end?

Mashari Althaydi
Mashari Althaydi
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Hodeidah, the city with its three ports, Saleef, Ras Isa and Hodeidah itself, has been liberated from the Houthis’ sway.

This is the summary of the Sweden agreement announced by UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres on Thursday. He said agreeing over Hodeidah was one of the most difficult issues they faced, adding: “We are witnessing the beginning of the end to the Yemeni crisis.”

Perhaps, the world’s first man of diplomacy, the Portuguese Guterres, is exaggerating this optimism but there’s no doubt that when it comes to the agreement reached during Sweden’s negotiations, international British envoy Martin Griffiths, the delegation of Yemeni legitimacy, and if you want you can say the Houthis as well, take some credit.

But hold on, would Hodeidah’s main port, the two other ports, Saleef and Ras Isa, and the city itself, would be liberated just like that in a “sudden Houthi patriotic rational” moment?

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The Houthis backed on their common stubbornness – their stalling regarding the Kuwait conference is well-known – under the force of arms, the arms of the legitimacy and Arab-Islamic alliance, which was a stone’s throw from the port.

Hence, if it hadn’t been for the speed of Griffiths and the UN, and the west behind them, to launch the Sweden dialogue, we would have now been talking about a complete military liberation of Hodeidah. It’s true that the humanitarian and financial cost would then be great but these are wars at the end, especially wars with nihilist groups like the Houthis.

A joyful Guterres, who’s thrilled that the agreement has been signed between the two parties told reporters, while photos were taken and handshakes were exchanged between the Houthi Mohammed Abdelsalam and the legitimacy representative Foreign Minister Khaled al-Yamani, that the UN will play a “major observer role.”

If it hadn’t been for the speed of Griffiths and the UN, and the west behind them, to launch the Sweden dialogue, we would have now been talking about a complete military liberation of Hodeidah

Mashari Althaydi

Deadline for withdrawals

There is a deadline for withdrawals accompanied with vigilant supervision to implement the plan including not having “revolutionary supervisors,” i.e. Houthis, in governmental departments in Hodeidah. Yamani frankly said that he will not engage in other negotiations until the Hodeidah agreement is completed.

As for the coalition’s camp in support of legitimacy, the picture is clear. Prince Khalid bin Salman, Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to the US, said on Twitter: “Approving (this agreement) would not have been achieved today hadn’t it been for military pressure.” UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash said the same thing. The question is: Does this mean the end of war in Yemen?

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I think this is an exaggeration. Let’s keep in mind that the agreement over the use of the Sanaa airport failed during the Sweden’s negotiations, and the same happened with other economic issues. Hence the security situation and the military pressure imposed themselves on the table of negotiations.

This is exactly the essence of the Yemeni legitimacy’s approach along with the Coalition’s as the Houthis do not submit except by military power. The Hodeidah agreement proved the accuracy of this approach. Other military, political and media stories, maneuvers, negotiations and attack and retreat have stayed in Yemen’s war.

However, there is no doubt that a candle was lit yesterday (Thursday) in Yemen’s darkness.

This article is also available in Arabic.

Saudi journalist Mashari Althaydi presents Al Arabiya News Channel’s “views on the news” daily show “Maraya.” He has previously held the position of a managing senior editor for Saudi Arabia & Gulf region at pan-Arab newspaper Asharq al-Awsat. Althaydi has published several papers on political Islam and social history of Saudi Arabia. He appears as a guest on several radio and television programs to discuss the ideologies of extremist groups and terrorists. He tweets under @MAlthaydy.

Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not reflect Al Arabiya English's point-of-view.
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