Saudi-led coalition lifts import restrictions in south Yemen
Saudi-backed government says commercial ships will be allowed to dock directly in southern ports, including Aden.
A Saudi Arabian-led military coalition has lifted eight-year-old restrictions on imports headed for Yemen’s southern ports as moves towards peace continue.
The announcement signals progress in peace talks with the Houthi rebel group in the north and follows the easing of restrictions on commercial goods entering the Houthi-held western port of Hodeidah, the country’s main seaport.
It comes as Yemen’s warring sides work to reinstate an expired United Nations-brokered truce.
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, said 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.
Adeed said more than 500 types of goods, including fertilisers and batteries, would be allowed back into Yemen through southern ports after they were removed from a list of banned products.
There was no immediate response from the Saudi government.
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 removed 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. Both nations recently agreed to restore relations severed in 2016 in a move seen as supporting peace efforts in Yemen.
The Saudi-Houthi talks are focused on a full reopening of Houthi-controlled ports and Sanaa’s airport, the payment of wages for public servants, and a timeline for non-Yemeni forces to exit the country, sources say.
The Saudi-led coalition had since 2015 imposed severe restrictions on the 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.