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Yemen Govt. Questions Houthi Approval for UN Team to Inspect Safer Tanker

Yemen Govt. Questions Houthi Approval for UN Team to Inspect Safer Tanker

Monday, 13 July, 2020 - 05:00
This image provided by I.R. Consilium taken in 2019, shows the extent of the corrosion in the boiler system inside the FSO Safer tanker, moored off Ras Issa port, Yemen. (AP)
Riyadh – Abdulhadi Habtor

The legitimate Yemeni government questioned on Sunday the Iran-backed Houthi militias’ sincerity in granting a United Nations team access to the stranded Safer oil tanker that risks causing an environmental disaster off the coast of the war-torn country.

Head of the Houthis’ so-called higher political council, Mohammed Ali al-Houthi, had announced on Saturday that the militias have allowed the team to inspect the tanker.

Two UN sources familiar with the matter told Reuters that the militias sent a letter approving the deployment of a UN technical team to the tanker.

The UN Security Council is scheduled to hold a meeting on Wednesday to discuss the Safer tanker issue.

Legitimate government spokesman Rajeh Badi questioned the motives behind the Houthi move, saying it may simply be a maneuver aimed at avoiding discussing the tanker at the Security Council.

He told Asharq Al-Awsat that the government has doubts about the Houthis’ “credibility”.

He urged the Security Council to act to prevent the environmental catastrophe, demanding that it impose sanctions against a number of figures who are barring access to the tanker.

The UN last week said it was extremely concerned after water entered the engine room of Safer tanker, which carries 1.1 million barrels of crude oil and has been stranded off the Red Sea oil terminal of Ras Issa for over five years.

For years, the UN has been trying to send inspectors to assess the damage aboard the vessel known as the FSO Safer and look for ways to secure the tanker by unloading the oil and pulling the ship to safety, but they have repeatedly been met with Houthi resistance.

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