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AL-MUKALLA: Houthis’ attacks on ships in the Red Sea have exacerbated the country’s misery more than any other nation, the chairman of Yemen’s Presidential Leadership Council said on Sunday, accusing Iran of fueling instability.

Rashad Al-Alimi told Al-Hadath TV that the Houthi attacks have significantly increased shipping and insurance costs and exacerbated Yemenis’ suffering, noting that the Houthis have used the Israeli war in Gaza to win the hearts and minds of Yemenis while also seeking to derail peace efforts in Yemen.

“The Yemeni people are the first and most affected, as insurance on Yemeni ports has climbed five to six times, while shipping has increased eight times. As a result, the Yemeni people are currently bearing the brunt of Iran’s conspiracy, which is being carried out by Houthi militias,” the Yemeni leader said.

Since November, the Houthis have launched hundreds of ballistic missiles and drones at international commercial and naval ships in the Red Sea, Bab Al-Mandab Strait and the Gulf of Aden, claiming to be acting in solidarity with Palestinians to force Israel to lift its siege of Gaza.

Al-Alimi described the Houthi Red Sea attacks as a “play” intended to carry out Iran’s regional ambitions, boost Houthi public support and undermine peace efforts to end the Yemen war.

“This affected the Yemeni people, not Israel. Food costs have risen by five to six times today,” he said.

Western countries, which have long urged the Yemeni government to de-escalate and engage in peace talks with the Houthis, are now convinced that defeating the Houthis militarily will end the Yemeni problem, he said.

The Western countries “resorted to a military option, repeating what we had always told them: The Houthis would not come to diplomacy, negotiations, or peace unless they were defeated militarily and their military capabilities were eliminated,” he said.

The US and UK have launched strikes against Houthi targets in Sanaa, Saada, Hodeidah and other Yemeni territories under their control in response to the Houthis’ attacks on ships in the Red Sea.

Despite the Western powers’ conclusion on a military solution to the Houthis, they are hesitant to provide military assistance to Yemen’s internationally recognized government to protect the Yemeni Red Sea coasts from which the Houthis launch missiles and drones and expel them from other Yemeni areas under their control.

“We believe that the international community still views Yemen under Chapter Seven, and therefore, they have reservations about providing us with military capabilities.”

The Yemeni government would join the US-led marine coalition known as Operation Prosperity Guardian to safeguard the Red Sea from Houthi attacks if other Red Sea countries joined the mission and his military forces received military help to battle the Houthis.

“We do not wish to enter as decoration to beautify or legitimize the coalition.

“Yemen’s military and military institutions must receive (military) help to safeguard Yemeni sovereignty and territorial seas, as well as reclaim territories controlled by militias.”

Al-Alimi leads an eight-man presidential council made up of Yemen’s main military and political leaders, which was founded in April 2022.

Speaking about his council’s accomplishments, he said that it was able to defuse hostilities between various anti-Houthi entities, establish a unified command room for all military and security units, activate state bodies in liberated areas, including the southern port city of Aden, Yemen’s interim capital, end a year-long strike of judges that paralyzed courts and channel financial assistance aid from international donors.

He said that there were still disagreements among council members, as well as opposition from military units to the merger with the Defense Ministry.

“We have important issues before us that cause disagreement inside the council, but when we agree on something, we move forward; when we disagree, we postpone the discussion,” Al-Alimi said.

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