AL-MUKALLA: British authorities have appointed lawyer and diplomat Abda Sharif as the UK’s new ambassador to Yemen.
She will take up her post in September and succeeds Richard Oppenheim, who will move to another diplomatic role, the UK’s Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office said.
Sharif’s most recent position was head of the Iraq and Arabian Peninsula Department in the Middle East and North Africa Directorate at the FCDO. Between 2012 and 2016, she served as deputy ambassador to Lebanon. Before that, in 2011, she led the UK Office in Benghazi, Libya.
“Delighted to be the next UK Ambassador to #Yemen. Look forward to returning to the Middle East, and to working with the excellent @UKinYemen,” Sharif said in a message posted on Twitter, referring to the UK’s embassy in the country.
Following the start of the war in Yemen in late 2014, the UK closed its embassy in Sanaa and transferred its ambassador and staff to Riyadh.
Sharif’s appointment comes at a time when the UN’s special envoy for Yemen, Hans Grundberg, and the international community, including the UK, are stepping up pressure on the Yemeni government and the Houthis to reach an agreement that can end the long-running civil war.
Extensive international efforts have so far failed to persuade the Houthis to formally renew a long-term UN-brokered cease-fire, after a temporary truce expired in October of last year, or to end their drone and missile attacks on oil facilities in government-controlled provinces, which have halted exports that provide the country’s main source of income.
The Houthis have said they will only cease their attacks on the facilities if the Yemeni government shares oil revenues with them and pays public employees in areas they control.
Meanwhile, the militia have launched drone and ground attacks in government-controlled territories across the country over the past 48 hours.
Residents in besieged Taiz said on Tuesday that a Houthi sniper killed a man as he walked through a small village in the city’s Saber district. Saeed Ahmed Abdullah, 43, reportedly died on the way to the hospital.
Sporadic fighting between the Houthis and government forces has been reported in a number of contested areas outside of Taiz. Residents of the city have long complained that a UN-brokered truce has neither halted arbitrary bombardments and ground attacks by the Houthis, nor eased the militia’s siege of the city.