A dangerous political crisis had emerged in Yemen which, together with violations of human rights, widespread attacks by Al-Qaida, increasing secessionist tendencies in the south and an acute humanitarian crisis, threatened regional and international peace, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told the Security Council this morning.
“Let me be clear: Yemen is collapsing before our eyes. We cannot stand by and watch,” the Secretary-General said in a briefing describing his recent visit to the region, at a meeting that also heard from his Special Adviser on Yemen, Jamal Benomar, as well as the representatives of Yemen and Qatar, the latter speaking on behalf of the Gulf Cooperation Council.
Preventing civil war in Yemen was the main political subject of discussion during his trip, Mr. Ban said. Leaders in the region called for a strong and unmistakable signal to be sent to all parties that further acts aimed at undermining Yemen’s transition would not be allowed to stand.
The transition, he said, had an agreed road map and all parties must abide by the common framework as set forth in the Implementation Mechanism of the Gulf Cooperation Council Initiative, the outcomes of the National Dialogue Conference and the Peace and National Partnership Agreement.
Mr. Ban stressed he expected all parties to refrain from any further provocations and implement those agreements in full, and without further delays. His Special Adviser was facilitating with all sides a consensual and peaceful way forward under difficult operational circumstances. All Yemeni parties must engage in those negotiations and cooperate in good faith.
Calling on the Council to provide continued unified support to the efforts of the Special Adviser, the Secretary-General urged members to work closely with the Gulf Cooperation Council and other international partners.
The international community’s first and foremost focus, he said, must be on helping the Yemeni people to re-establish a legitimate Government authority as soon as possible. He also called on Member States to increase their funding for the 2015 Humanitarian Response Plan for the country.
Speaking from Sana’a via videolink, Mr. Benomar said the transition in that country, widely heralded as a model, was now in disarray. As he continued exercising the good offices of the Secretary-General by convening daily negotiations involving 12 political parties on an agreement, one of those, Ansarallah, unilaterally announced on 6 February a constitutional declaration dissolving Parliament and setting up new ruling structures.
He said that the declaration had created a strong backlash domestically and internationally and that it had been made clear to all parties, including Ansarallah, that the political impasse could only be solved through peaceful dialogue and negotiations based upon the agreed road map.
Following an agreement by all parties to resume dialogue, progress had been made as “delicate negotiations” were under way on complex issues regarding governing arrangements during the transition. The parties were considering power-sharing measures in a new Government of national unity, as well as mechanisms and arrangements for enabling State security institutions to resume their responsibility.
The situation in Marib and the south was volatile, Mr. Benomar said, adding that the instability was creating conditions conducive for the re-emergence and spread of Al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP). In addition, while the political uncertainty created serious pressure on the Saudi riyal, threatening further economic and social instability, an estimated 61 per cent of the population needed humanitarian assistance.
Whether Yemen descended into civil war and disintegration or found a way to put the transition on track largely depended on the political will of its leaders. Despite the setbacks, the Yemenis’ dream of democratic transformation remained alive and the international community had a responsibility to support them.
The representative of Yemen, Khaled Hussein Mohamed Alyemany, reviewing the history of his country’s hard work to transition to a democracy since 2011, added that despite differences all components of society had committed themselves to a secular federal State through the National Dialogue Conference. In the current crisis, efforts were being made to find a consensus to resolve it through consultations.
He expressed appreciation to Mr. Benomar’s efforts to ensure that the country did not plunge into civil war. Council considerations should lead to rapid measures to move the situation forward through consensus. Describing a dire humanitarian situation, he invited necessary humanitarian assistance for 2015. He pledged, in turn, his Government’s commitment to protecting all diplomatic missions, and called on all those concerned with his country’s future to continue to back the political process based on the Gulf Council initiative, the dialogue process and other agreed frameworks.
Finally, the representative of Qatar, Alya Ahmed Saif Al-Thani, took the floor on behalf of the Gulf Cooperation Council, welcoming efforts by the United Nations to counter the disturbing developments in Yemen of the past weeks. Those events, caused by the activities of the Houthis and their sponsors, were undermining progress in Yemen. People were being threatened and recruited, as part of “egregious violations of international law”, including Security Council resolutions, she added.
She said that the Gulf Council, in a January meeting, pledged full support to the Yemeni people and condemned all terrorist activity, rejecting the changes wrought by the Houthis, which were outside the consultative framework that had been built by the Yemenis, the Gulf partners and the United Nations. The coup should be declared illegal and the Houthis should withdraw from all institutions and put an end to armed activities, giving back the weapons they had looted from the security institutions.
The Security Council, she said, must act quickly on the situation, lest the Houthis be encouraged to continue their activities. She stressed that a coup against an elected Government had occurred and would have many negative results including in more Al-Qaida activity. A political settlement must be facilitated and the agreed framework must be implemented so that the political transition in Yemen could be completed.
She pledged that the Gulf Council would continue to coordinate its efforts with the United Nations to secure stability in Yemen, as it was integral to peace in the region.
The meeting began at 10:47 a.m. and ended at 11:25 a.m.