Why it matters: The Stockholm agreement, considered a breakthrough when announced in December, was intended to improve Yemen’s dire humanitarian situation and build confidence between the government and the Iran-backed Houthis. But scant progress has been made, raising concerns about the UN’s ability to broker a permanent peace between the warring parties.
Background: For the past 5 months, Yemen's government has pointed to the Houthis’ reluctance to withdraw from the Yemeni ports of Hodeidah, Salif and Rass-Issaas as evidence of their insincerity.
- The initially planned withdrawal reached a stalemate last December, when questions were raised about the Houthi ties of Yemeni Coast Guard units who had been set to assume control of the port.
Where it stands: The Houthi withdrawal finally began last weekend, and UN Special Envoy Martin Griffiths briefed the Security Council on Wednesday on its progress.
- Yemen’s government declared the withdrawal a sham, on the basis that it was prevented from monitoring and verifying the operation in “violation” of their agreement, leaving Houthi loyalists in charge.
- The UN views any Houthi pullback as vital to ensuring the flow of humanitarian aid. It would also allow for removing mines from around the ports and responding to a derelict oil tanker anchored off Salif that could explode at any time.