Trump urges Saudis to end Yemen blockade

Maricruz Casares
Diciembre 8, 2017

Yemen's Huthi rebels mounted a show of strength in Sanaa on Thursday, holding a mass memorial ceremony for comrades killed in this month's battle for control of the capital.

In a rare divergence from Saudi Arabia, U.S. President Donald Trump called on the kingdom to end its blockade on Yemen, citing human rights.

But Trump said he had asked aides to contact the Saudi leadership "to request that they completely allow food, fuel, water, and medicine to reach the Yemeni people who desperately need it".

The conflict in Yemen, the Arab world's poorest state, has become a proxy war between Saudi Arabia, its Gulf ally, the United Arab Emirates (the largest foreign force on the ground), and Shia Iran, which are locked in a struggle for regional dominance that has spilled over into Syria, Lebanon and Iraq.

The war in Yemen has created one of the world's worst humanitarian disasters in decades, which would worsen unless the Saudi-led coalition lifts its partial blockade of Yemen's Red Sea ports.

The port of Hodeidah is the main conduit for UN-supervised deliveries of food and medicine to Yemen, where poverty has been compounded by war and a blockade on ports and airports imposed by the Saudi-led coalition.

Fighting in Yemen's capital Sanaa has spiked in recent days during a showdown between Houthi rebels and loyalists of Yemen's ex-president Ali Abdullah Saleh.

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Saleh was killed at the hands of Houthi rebels on Monday and clashes over the past week have seen streets blockaded by warring factions and the setting up of checkpoints. The United States has been providing the Saudi coalition with weapons. Mr Saleh joined forces with the Houthis two years ago to fight against the Saudi-backed government as he spotted an opportunity for a comeback.

"It is paramount that civilians are protected, that the wounded are afforded safe access to medical care and that all sides facilitate life-saving humanitarian access", Dujarric said.

Sanaa residents have been stocking up on basic goods for fear of further violence.

Pioneered by Mohammed in his capacity as defense minister, the US -backed Saudi military intervention in Yemen has now lasted more than two-and-a-half years and claimed thousands of civilian lives, many of them children, while causing the some of the starvation and disease crises in the world.

"The custodian of the two holy mosques asserted to his excellency the U.S. president that any American announcement regarding the situation of Jerusalem prior to reaching a permanent settlement will harm peace talks and increase tensions in the area", state news agency SPA said.

"Millions will die in a historic starvation and public health crisis if President Trump's call is not heeded." said Oxfam America official Scott Paul.

"The past month's escalation has killed thousands and condemned thousands more to die in the near future", Oxfam America said in a statement Wednesday. He also noted "the fact that US support has helped create Yemen's horrific crisis" and called on Washington to cease military assistance if parties don't agree an immediate ceasefire and a political settlement.

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