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Saudi Arabia offers to allow fuel ships in Yemen peace proposal after CNN probe exposes blockade number

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This proposal follows a recent CNN investigation which found that no single oil tanker has been able to anchor in the Houthi-controlled port of Hodeidah this year due to the blockade implemented by Saudi warships. The CNN investigation prompted calls from Yemen’s UN envoy Martin Griffiths and WFP Chief David Beasley for Saudi Arabia to lift its blockade and allow fuel into the country.

Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan told Saudi State TV on Monday that the initiative was aimed at “ending the conflict” in Yemen and would seek to implement a nationwide ceasefire, open Sanaa airport and allow oil tankers to enter the port of Hodeidah.

His statement marked the first time Saudi Arabia has publicly acknowledged the blockade of fuel vessels in Hodeidah, which the UN calls “unacceptable” for humanitarian reasons. The blockade has starved Houthis of oil tax revenues – but it has also critically hampered the ability of humanitarian agencies to deliver aid, including food, as famine lingers in the country.

Saudi Arabia said the initiative is awaiting acceptance from both the Houthi rebels and the internationally recognized Yemeni government, which has Saudi support.

“We hope the Houthis will accept this initiative this time, to avoid the bloodshed of Yemen,” said Prince Faisal.

Houthi Deputy Foreign Minister Hussin Al-ezzi told CNN that the blockade had to be lifted first, before they could agree to enter into peace talks.

“If they [Saudi Arabia] “lift the blockade and open the airport, then there will be a supportive atmosphere for entering into negotiations and reaching credible conclusions.”

The last attempt to establish a ceasefire

The Saudi-led coalition has intensified airstrikes on Yemen in recent weeks, hitting dozens of targets, including the capital Sanaa and a grain port on the Red Sea coast.
Houthi rebels have also stepped up attacks on Saudi Arabia in recent months, launching drones and ballistic missiles loaded with explosives almost daily targeting airports, military bases and major oil facilities.

The Iran-linked Houthi group controls northern Yemen, including the capital Sanaa and the strategic port city of Hodeidah, and has been at war with a Saudi-led military alliance since 2015.

The initiative announced Monday is the latest in several attempts to establish a ceasefire between Yemen’s warring parties. The UN has been part of stalled negotiations for years between opposing parties. Recently, US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken received no response after offering the Houthis peace talks.

According to State Department spokesman Ned Price, Blinken spoke with the Saudi Foreign Minister on Monday about Yemen, discussing the need for all parties to support peace efforts, commit to a ceasefire and facilitate the delivery of humanitarian aid.

President Joe Biden announced earlier this year that the U.S. would end its support for Saudi Arabia’s offensive operations in Yemen, in a move hailed by lawmakers as “historic.” However, the United States has not withdrawn its support for the Saudi blockade.

Angela Dewan, Barbara Arvanitidis, Nicole Gaouette and Yousef Mawry contributed to this report.

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