In an effort to break the deadlock in the ongoing negotiations between Yemen’s exiled government representatives and Houthi rebels in Sweden, the United Nations team working in Yemen has proposed a 16-point plan to initiate truce between the warring sides.
The main point of the deadlock is the control of the port city of Hodeidah which is currently with the Houthi rebels. The exiled Yemen government wants it handed over to them to be managed under its Ministry of Transport. Houthi rebels have refused to do so as the port is a lifeline for areas controlled by them. The UN’s aid of food and medicines for the impoverished and besieged state is transported through Hodeidah. Read: Fresh Conflict Pushes Yemen In to An Abyss of Starvation and Death
The only concession the Houthis have made is agreeing to allow the port to be controlled by the UN, but only if the Saudi-led coalition supporting Yemen’s exiled government stops its air strikes.
In order to go past this deadlock, the UN has introduced a 16-point proposal which states that once the Houthis had withdrawn from Hodeidah, including the ports of Saleef and Ras Isa, the Saudi-led military coalition fighting the Shia movement would cease its military operations, according to multiple reports.
— Mohammed al-Qadhiمحمد القاضي (@mohammedalqadhi) December 10, 2018
The UN's special envoy for Yemen Martin Griffiths who has pushed hard to bring the two sides to the negotiating table, described Hodeidah as the centre of gravity for the war. He said at a press conference in Rimbo – after the fifth day of talks – that he hoped to publish “detailed, ambitious and tangible” confidence-building proposals in the next few days, including plans for the future administration of Hodeidah and its port.
The proposal outlines a framework which sees the UN deploy a number of observers to monitor Hodeidah’s port facility with the Houthis and the Yemen government cooperating with the arrangement.
The document also said that all revenues gathered from the port would be transferred to Yemen's central bank in Hodeidah which is needed to pay the salaries of civil servants.
The Yemeni government, which claims its forces are only 3km from the port, insists that it will only accept that the UN's role to oversee the harbour. It has rejected joint control and a government representative told the Reuters news agency that the city needed to come under the full control of his government.
However, the UN envoy said he was still ambitious adding, “Hope is the currency of a mediator,” and that he was focused on trying to find ways to reduce the fighting.