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M’arib battle prelude to peace: Yemen FM tells Press TV

Yemeni FM Hisham Sharaf

Yemeni Foreign Minister Hisham Sharaf says Saudi Arabia and its allies have been funneling Ma’rib’s oil and gas revenues to their mercenaries in order to help finance the war, describing victory in the battle for the strategic province as a prelude to peace for the entire country.

Sharaf made the remarks in an interview with Press TV on Wednesday. He said Yemen’s defense forces are completely entitled to staging the battle of Ma’rib to fight back against Saudi Arabia and its mercenaries.

“When we speak about the issue of Ma’rib…we said a long time ago [that] Ma’rib is part of Yemen. And really, we are free to move anywhere within our territory. We are not attacking Saudi Arabia,” he noted.

“Ma’rib should be looked at as an internal issue [like] something that the Saudis and Emiratis have no reason to interfere in,” he added.

Saudi Arabia and many of its allies have been waging a war on Yemen since 2015 to restore power there to the country’s former Riyadh-friendly officials.

The war and a simultaneous siege that the Saudi-led coalition has been enforcing on the Arab world’s already poorest nation, has killed hundreds of thousands of Yemenis.

The invasion has also pushed the entire Yemen close to the brink of outright famine, turning the country into the scene of the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.

Yemen’s defense forces have, however, vowed not to lay down their arms or stop their resistance operations until the country’s complete liberation.

Ma’rib, which is wedged right in the middle of a whole host of other Yemeni provinces, has turned into a focus of the forces’ liberation operations for many months now. 

The province’s recapture, towards which many advancements have been made so far, is expected to pave the way for further military victories for Yemen’s defenders.

Sharaf noted that Saudi Arabia and its allies’ presence in Ma’rib helped them direct the province’s oil and gas revenues towards the mercenaries, thus prolonging the war.

“We know that without stopping that money that comes from oil and gas in Ma’rib, the war will not stop [either]. These people are using the oil and gas’ revenues to continue the war, to pay the salaries of the mercenaries, to do a lot of things to make the war continue,” he said.

“A lot of [the] mercenaries come from definite organizations, terrorist organizations, and they are being paid to stop us from doing that (liberating Ma’rib),” Sharaf added.

“Peace will come after we finish the issue of Ma’rib and you will see it. When the issue of Ma’rib is settled, there will be no fighting. We will [then] go around the [negotiation] table, trying to get peace, security, and regain the state of justice and the state of the law.”

‘UN, US envoys’ useless efforts’

He, meanwhile, criticized the functionality of the efforts that had been invested by the United Nations’ and the United States’ Yemen envoys, Martin Griffiths and Tim Lenderking.

The emissaries, he said, had just been making shuttling visits to Yemen, Saudi Arabia, the Emirates, and Oman. 

This is while the main issues that would “move the wheels of peace” features such essential matters as reopening of the airport in the Yemeni capital Sana’a to vital imports, the direction of fuel derivatives towards the Yemeni market, and salvation of the impoverished country’s troubled currency.

Message to Biden

Still addressing the potential role that Washington could play to help end the war, Sharaf urged US President Joe Biden to look at what was happening to Yemen “from a different angle.”

He urged the United States to rather turn its attention towards the sources that were financing the war, saying the conflict would rage on as long as those sources kept funding it.

Since the beginning of the warfare, the US has been lending generous political, logistical, and arms support to the invading coalition, including by providing it with precision weaponry that has been being used directly on Yemeni civilians on many occasions.

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