According to sources familiar with the situation, the “first phase” of the joint withdrawal of combat forces from Yemen’s Hodeidah is to begin Monday. The Shi’ite Houthis are expected to withdraw forces from the grain port at Saleef and the oil terminal at Ras Isa. Troops are expected to end up at least 5 km away.
This is part of the first phase announced last week. Details were not disclosed at the time, and it’s still unclear what, if any, drawdowns are expected of the Saudi-backed forces at this time, as part of this phase.
Houthi troops who retain control of the main aid port in Hodeidah are expected to withdraw as part of a second phase of the withdrawal from the province. As part of the same phase, the pro-Saudi forces are expected to withdraw from the Kilo 7 road, a vital aid route that they’ve cut off.
A full withdrawal of forces by both sides from Hodeidah was initially negotiated in Sweden, but neither side followed through on it. It is expected that this more phased approach will increase confidence in taking smaller measures here and there without risking the other side betraying them in a big move.
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