Condemning Houthi Actions, Spiralling Violence, Security Council, in Statement on Yemen, Urges Non-State Actors to Withdraw from Government Facilities

22 March 2015
SC/11828

Condemning Houthi Actions, Spiralling Violence, Security Council, in Statement on Yemen, Urges Non-State Actors to Withdraw from Government Facilities

7411th Meeting (PM)

Reaffirming its strong commitment to the unity, sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of Yemen, the Security Council today, in an emergency meeting, condemned the ongoing unilateral actions taken by the Houthis that were undermining the political transition process and jeopardizing the country’s security and stability.

On behalf of the 15-member body, François Delattre of France, which holds the March Council presidency, read out a presidential statement condemning in the strongest terms the airstrikes against the Presidential Palace in Aden and attacks at the international airport, as well as the horrific 20 March bomb attacks at the two mosques in Sana’a and Saada, which killed at least 126.  Expressing deep concern at the insufficient implementation of resolution 2201 (2015), the Council urged non-State actors to withdraw from Government institutions, including in the south of Yemen, and to refrain from any attempts to take over such institutions.

The Council asserted that the solution to the situation in Yemen was through a peaceful, inclusive, orderly and Yemeni-led political process.  The legitimate demands and aspirations of the Yemeni people could be achieved through the process as set out in the Gulf Cooperation Council Initiative and Implementation Mechanism, the outcome of the comprehensive National Dialogue Conference and the Peace and National Partnership Agreement.

The Council strongly called upon all parties, in particular the Houthis, to abide by the Gulf Cooperation Council Initiative and Implementation Mechanism and relevant Council resolutions to accelerate inclusive United Nations-brokered negotiations.  Calling on all Member States to refrain from external interference and instead to support the political parties, the Council reaffirmed its readiness to take further measures against any party in case of non-implementation of its resolutions on Yemen, in particular resolution 2201 (2015).

Addressing the Council, the representative of Yemen said the entire population deplored and rejected the present coup, adding that aggression continued through a number of attacks that had “left a deep scar”.  The only way to exit the crisis was to adhere to Security Council resolution 2201 (2015).  In that regard, he reiterated a call for all armed elements to retreat from Sana’a and other Yemeni cities, as well as for the return of all plundered heavy weaponry.

Urging the Council to “curb the drums of war” propagated by the promotors of the coup, fuelled by Iranian ambitions in Yemen, he called on all Yemeni political elements to be aware of the gravity of the situation and to take part in the Gulf Cooperation Council negotiations to prevent the country from falling into partition, strife and violence.

Briefing the Council via videoconference, Jamal Benomar, the Secretary-General’s Special Adviser on Yemen, said recent events seemed to be leading the country further away from a peaceful settlement and towards the edge of civil war.  Providing a chronology of events leading up to the latest violence, including suicide attacks and the bombing of the presidential compound, he said there was a prevailing sense among Yemenis that the situation was on a rapid downward spiral.

Against the background of the new developments, some questioned the utility of continuing the United Nations-facilitated negotiations, he said.  “This leads me to repeat the question:  what alternative do we have?”, he asked.  It would be an illusion to think that the Houthis could mount an offensive and succeed in taking control of the entire country and it would be equally false to think that President Abdo Rabbo Mansour Hadi could assemble sufficient forces to liberate the country from the Houthis, he warned.

Any side that would want to push the country in either direction would be inviting a protracted conflict in the vein of an Iraq-Libya-Syria combined scenario, he continued.  Peaceful dialogue was the only option, he said, adding that the Houthis and the President were both crucial to the solution.

Speaking for the Gulf Cooperation Council, the representative of Qatar reaffirmed its full support for the unity, sovereignty and territorial integrity of Yemen.  Rejecting unilateral measures taken by the Houthis, the Gulf Council was keen to hold on to President Hadi’s legitimacy and to bring security to Yemen, so it could resume its political process.  “We hope that Yemen is not going to become a headquarters for terrorist organizations,” she said.

In light of the atrocities and violations committed, she called on the Council to take “practical and urgent measures” to ensure that its resolutions were implemented in accordance with Chapter VII of the Charter.  The current situation, she said, required the international community to take its responsibilities seriously.

The meeting began at 3:04 p.m. and ended at 3:47 p.m.

Briefing

JAMAL BENOMAR, Special Adviser of the Secretary-General on Yemen, said events of recent weeks and days seemed to be leading the country further away from a peaceful settlement and towards the edge of civil war.  Since President Abdo Rabbo Mansour Hadi had arrived in Aden, he had declared that city as Yemen’s temporary capital, started expanding the “popular committees” loyal to him, which had taken control of Aden, and accused former president Ali Abdullah Saleh and the Houthis of launching a coup against him.  The Houthis, in turn, had rejected President Hadi as the legitimate leader of Yemen and had continued to occupy Government institutions and to expand into other territories, despite the Security Council’s repeated demands.

In early March, President Hadi replaced the Central Security Forces chief in Aden, who was allegedly loyal to former President Saleh and the Houthis, with a replacement who was seen as controversial.  However, the incumbent chief refused to cede the post, leading to several rounds of fighting between his troops and military units against the popular committees loyal to President Hadi.  On 19 March, heavy clashes took place in and around Aden’s airport, and in a dramatic move, air force jets from Sana’a were deployed to Aden and dropped bombs on the presidential compound, he said, noting that President Hadi was not injured and was moved to a secure location.

It would appear that Houthis, backed by members of the Yemeni armed forces, were moving further south amid a prevailing sense among Yemenis that the situation was on a rapid downward spiral.  Many were also concerned that the conflict was taking on worrying sectarian tones and deepening North-South divisions.  Fears existed that Al-Qaida in the Arabian peninsula would exploit the current instability to cause further chaos.  Following the recent suicide bombings and fighting, emotions were running extremely high, he said.

Some questioned the utility of continuing the United Nations-facilitated negotiations against the background of the new developments, he said, adding that “this leads me to repeat the question:  What alternative to we have?”  It would be an illusion to think that the Houthis could mount an offensive and succeed in taking control of the entire country.  It would be equally false to think that President Hadi could assemble sufficient forces to liberate the country from the Houthis.  Any side that would want to push the country in either direction would be inviting a protracted conflict in the vein of an Iraq-Libya-Syria combined scenario, he said.

A final power-sharing deal to enable the completion of the transition could only materialize through engagement of all sides in the political process, he said, adding that the Houthis and President Hadi were both crucial to finding a solution.  The United Nations continued to be engaged with the parties in a manner that neither gave legitimacy to those who used force to disrupt the political process nor diminished the legitimacy of the president and Government, nor harmed the impartiality of the United Nations.  He urged all sides to appreciate the gravity of the situation and to exercise maximum restraint.

Statements

KHALED HUSSEIN ALYEMANY (Yemen) said that the entire Yemeni population deplored and rejected the present coup in its country, which fuelled civil war and sectarian infighting.  Describing the events of recent weeks, he said that aggression continued through a number of attacks that had “left a deep scar in Yemen”.  The country’s political transition, as part of the Gulf Cooperation Council initiative, was helping to build a modern federal State.  The only elements that remained in that process were the finalization of the Constitution and the convening of elections, he said.  Indeed, the only way to exit the crisis was to adhere to Security Council resolution 2201 (2015), which had called for an abandonment of the coup.  In that regard, he reiterated his call for the pulling out of all armed elements from Sana’a and other Yemeni cities, as well as for the return of all plundered heavy weaponry.

He appealed to the Security Council, as well as other friendly countries, to fulfil their obligations provided for in the United Nations Charter, namely, to adopt urgent measures to stem the aggression that undermined Yemen’s legitimate authority.  The Houthis’ actions, he said, had threatened peace in Yemen, as well as regional peace and stability.  He also urged the Council to “curb the drums of war” propagated by the promotors of the coup, fuelled by Iranian ambitions in Yemen, and called on all Yemeni political elements to be aware of the gravity of the situation and to take part in the Gulf Cooperation Council negotiations to prevent Yemen from falling into partition, strife and violence.  He further called on Yemen’s partners not to abandon the State in its current difficult circumstances.

ALYA AHMED SAIF AL-THANI (Qatar), speaking for the Gulf Cooperation Council, reaffirmed its full support for the unity, sovereignty, and territorial integrity of Yemen.  The Council supported President Hadi and rejected unilateral measures taken by the Houthis.  The Council was keen to hold on to the President’s legitimacy and to bring security to Yemen, in order to enable it to resume its political process according to the Gulf Cooperation Council initiative.  “We hope that Yemen is not going to become a headquarters for terrorist organizations,” she said.  The Houthis continued to take dangerous unilateral measures aimed at escalating the situation and breaking down political negotiations, which constituted a stark violation of Security Council resolutions, she said.  The Houthis also continued detaining Government officials, and had taken measures that should only be authorized by the Government, in stark violation of the United Nations Charter and international law.

Instead of working to implement Security Council resolution 2201 (2015) and maintaining the unity of Yemen, the presidential palace had been bombed, she said.  The Houthis and their supporters had moved forward to control the city of Taiz.  In light of the atrocities and violations committed, she called on the Council to take “practical and urgent measures” to ensure that its resolutions were implemented in accordance with Chapter VII of the Charter.  The Security Council also needed to stop weapons from reaching the hands of armed groups, she said.  The stability of Yemen would not be achieved except through a dialogue between all parties.  In that regard, she reiterated her invitation to all Yemeni parties to the conference in Riyadh, which would be held under the auspices of the Gulf Cooperation Council.  The current situation required consolidated international efforts, she said, and the international community must take its responsibilities seriously.

Presidential Statement

The full text of presidential statement S/PRST/2015/8 reads as follows:

“The Security Council recalls its resolutions 2014 (2011), 2051 (2012), 2140 (2014), 2201 (2015) and 2204 (2015), and presidential statements of 15 February 2013 and 29 August 2014.

“The Security Council reaffirms its strong commitment to the unity, sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of Yemen, and its commitment to stand by the people of Yemen.

“The Security Council reiterates its support for the efforts of the Gulf Cooperation Council and commends its engagement in assisting the political transition in Yemen.

“The Security Council supports the legitimacy of the President of Yemen, Abdo Rabbo Mansour Hadi, and calls upon all parties and Member States to refrain from taking any actions that undermine the unity, sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of Yemen, and the legitimacy of the President of Yemen.

“The Security Council reaffirms its full support for, and commitment to, the efforts of the Special Adviser of the Secretary-General on Yemen, Mr. Jamal Benomar, and to the UN-brokered negotiations.

“The Security Council condemns the ongoing unilateral actions taken by the Houthis, which undermine the political transition process in Yemen, and jeopardize the security, stability, sovereignty and unity of Yemen and expresses deep concern by the insufficient implementation of resolution 2201 (2015).

“The Security Council deplores that the Houthis have not implemented its demands in resolution 2201 (2015) to withdraw their forces from Government institutions, including in the capital Sana’a, and normalize the security situation in the capital and other provinces, and relinquish Government and security institutions.

“The Security Council expresses serious concern over continued arbitrary detention, by all parties, in particular by Houthis, contrary to resolution 2201 (2015), and reiterates its demand for the unconditional and safe release of all persons arbitrarily detained.

“The Security Council welcomes that the Prime Minister Khalid Bahah and other members of the Cabinet are no longer under the house arrest imposed by the Houthis.

“The Security Council urges non-State actors to withdraw from Government institutions, including in the south of Yemen, and to refrain from any attempt to take over such institutions.

“The Security Council condemns in the strongest terms the airstrikes against the Presidential Palace in Aden and attacks at Aden International airport.  The Security Council condemns in the strongest terms the horrific 20 March bomb attacks at the two mosques in Sana’a and in Saada, Yemen, which killed at least 126 and injured many more.  The Security Council urges all sides to refrain from any further use of military force, any offensive military actions and other uses of violence.

“The Security Council reiterates its call urging all parties to agree upon and announce publicly dates for completing the constitutional consultation process, to hold a referendum on the Constitution, and to conduct elections under the new electoral law pursuant to the new Constitution and in this regard demands that the parties take all actions conducive to this process, including by the full implementation of resolution 2201 (2015).

“The Security Council reiterates its concern at the ability of Al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula to benefit from the deterioration of the political and security situation in Yemen, mindful that any acts of terrorism are criminal and unjustifiable regardless of their motivation, whenever, wherever and by whomsoever committed.

“The Security Council reiterates that the solution to the situation in Yemen is through a peaceful, inclusive, orderly and Yemeni-led political transition process that meets the legitimate demands and aspirations of the Yemeni people for peaceful change and meaningful political, economic and social reform, as set out in the Gulf Cooperation Council Initiative and Implementation Mechanism, the outcomes of the comprehensive National Dialogue Conference, the Peace and National Partnership Agreement and its security annex.

“The Security Council strongly calls upon all parties, in particular the Houthis, to abide by the Gulf Cooperation Council Initiative and its Implementation Mechanism, the outcomes of the comprehensive National Dialogue conference, and the Peace and National Partnership Agreement and its security annex and the relevant Security Council resolutions and to accelerate inclusive United Nations-brokered negotiations, including on issues relating to governance, to continue the political transition in order to reach a consensus solution and stresses the importance of full implementation of agreements reached and commitments made towards that goal.

“The Security Council emphasizes its call for all parties in Yemen, including the Houthis, government officials, leaders of political parties and movements, and members of so-called ‘popular committees’, to adhere to resolving their differences through dialogue and consultation, reject acts of violence to achieve political goals and refrain from provocation and all unilateral actions to undermine the political transition.  The Security Council stresses that all parties should take concrete steps to agree and implement a consensus-based political solution to Yemen’s crisis in accordance with the Gulf Cooperation Council Initiative and its Implementation Mechanism, the outcomes of the comprehensive National Dialogue conference, and the Peace and National Partnership Agreement and its security annex.

“The Security Council welcomes the intention of the President of Yemen, Abdo Rabbo Mansour Hadi, to engage in good faith in the UN-brokered negotiations.

“The Security Council welcomes the intention of the Gulf Cooperation Council to convene a conference in Riyadh, upon the request of the President of Yemen, with the participation of all Yemeni parties to further support the political transition in Yemen, and to complement and support the UN-brokered negotiations.

“The Security Council reiterates the importance of all parties allowing all Yemenis to assemble peacefully without fear of attack, injury, arrest or retaliation.

“The Security Council calls on all parties to comply with their obligations under international law, including applicable international humanitarian law and human rights law.

“The Security Council reiterates its demand that all parties in Yemen cease all armed hostilities against the people and the legitimate authorities of Yemen and relinquish the arms seized from Yemen’s military and security institutions, in accordance with the Peace and National Partnership Agreement and its security annex.

“The Security Council also urges all parties to facilitate safe and unhindered access for humanitarian actors to reach people in need of humanitarian assistance. It also reaffirms the need for all parties to ensure the safety of civilians, including those receiving assistance as well as the need to ensure the security of humanitarian personnel and United Nations and its associated personnel.

“The Security Council notes with appreciation the work of the Special Adviser of the Secretary-General on Yemen, Jamal Benomar and stresses the importance of the United Nations’ close coordination with international partners, including the Gulf Cooperation Council, Group of Ambassadors in Sana’a, and other actors, in order to contribute to the successful transition.

“The Security Council calls on all member States to refrain from external interference which seeks to foment conflict and instability and instead to support the political transition.

“The Security Council demands that all parties fully implement all Council resolutions on Yemen, including resolution 2201 (2015).

“The Security Council reaffirms its readiness to take further measures against any party in case of non-implementation of its resolutions on Yemen, in particular its resolution 2201 (2015).”

For information media. Not an official record.