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YEMEN - The tribal mediation in Marib successfully ended the blockade of Sana’a's gas supplies that was put in place last week by a group of arms dealers and sheiks on the Safar-Sana'a road.
Tribal sources in Marib city told the Yemen Observer that Sheik Gaber al-Shabwani, the General Secretary of the local council in Marib, has reached an agreement with the highway men to end the road blockade, pending some conditions that have not yet been clarified.
Gaber al-Shabwani told the Yemen Observer that the problem has ended and the road is now open for the gas trucks that supply the capital with gas, as well as for the traffic between Marib and other cities, including the capital.
The tribal sources confirmed that a deal has been made by al-Shabwani between the government and the arms dealers, but al-Shabwani denied this.
He emphasized that “there is no deal of any kind, the blockade has been terminated without any conditions or deals, just respect for the state and its authority over Yemen. The problem is over, everything is back to normal… without any deal.”
Last week, the group led by a few members of Parliament and the Shora Council, and a Marib sheikh had shut down a gas trucking route in the Marib province when authorities supposedly exposed an illegal shipment of weapons. The weapons shipment was intended to be imported on a Chinese cargo ship using possibly falsified military documentation.
The weapons dealers, Abdullah bin Muili, a member of Parliament, and Hadi Muthana, who is supported by Hamad Bin Jalal (a Shora Council member), along with Mohammed al-Amir, a Marib sheikh, had blocked the Safar-Sana’a road in order to block cooking gas shipments and create a gas crisis throughout the country.
The group hoped to pressure the government into changing its decision to ban the weapons shipment, which was imported with allegedly counterfeit documents made to imitate documents from the Yemeni Ministry of Defense. Nevertheless, Yemeni authorities continued to refuse entry of the Chinese weapons into the country.
Official authorities have reported that the cargo ship was turned away from Yemeni territorial waters and is now anchored at an African port. However, in a contradicting report, members of parliament have stated that the ship is anchored in the port of Hodeidah.
A Yemeni representative of the Chinese company that manufactured the weapons requested that the Ministry of Defense expedite the unloading of the ship in Hodeidah. The agent specified that the arms are Chinese and not Russian, and accused the Deputy Defense Minister of refusing to unload the shipment solely because of the delay in delivery.
The representative explained that the delay has cost him heavy losses, but has declined to speak further on why the Ministry of Defense has broken its contract with the company.
During its session on Monday, the Parliament formed a committee to further investigate the arms shipment case.