Saudi-led coalition lifts more restrictions on Yemen’s imports – Middle East Monitor

A Saudi Arabian-led military coalition lifted eight-year-old restrictions on imports headed for Yemen’s southern ports, the internationally recognised authorities said, in a sign that peace talks are progressing with the Houthi group in the north, reports Reuters.

This follows the easing of restrictions in February on commercial goods entering the Houthi-held western port of Hudaydah, the country’s main seaport, as Yemen’s warring sides work to reinstate an expired UN-brokered truce deal.

The Saudi-backed government based in the south said in a statement late on Thursday that commercial ships would be allowed to dock directly in southern ports, including Aden, and all goods would be cleared, with some exceptions.

Abu Bakr Adeed, deputy head of Yemen’s Chambers of Commerce, told Reuters ships would not have to stop at the Saudi Red Sea port of Jeddah for security checks for the first time since the Saudi-led coalition intervened in Yemen in 2015.

The Saudi government did not immediately respond to a request for a comment.

Saudi quagmire in Yemen - Cartoon [Latuff/MiddleEastMonitor]

Saudi quagmire in Yemen – Cartoon [Carlos Latuff/MiddleEastMonitor]

The moves to increase the flow of goods to ports across the country appear to be an indication of progress in direct talks between Saudi Arabia and the Iran-aligned Houthi movement, which run in parallel with United Nations peace efforts.

The Houthis, who ousted the internationally recognised government from the capital, Sanaa, in late 2014, are de facto authorities in North Yemen and say they are fighting a corrupt system and foreign aggression.

The conflict is widely seen in the region as a proxy war between rivals Saudi Arabia and Iran, who recently agreed to restore relations severed in 2016 in a move seen as supporting peace efforts in Yemen.

Sources have told Reuters that the Saudi-Houthi talks are focused on a full reopening of Houthi-controlled ports and Sanaa airport, payment of wages for public servants and a timeline for non-Yemeni forces to exit the country.

The Saudi-led coalition had since 2015 imposed severe restrictions on flow of goods into import-reliant Yemen, where war has devastated the economy, contributing to what the United Nations has called the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.

Abeed said more than 500 types of goods would be allowed back in Yemen through southern ports, including fertilisers and batteries, after they were removed from a list of banned products.

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