September 2012 Monthly Forecast

Posted 31 August 2012
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MIDDLE EAST

Yemen

Expected Council Action

In September, the Council is expecting to hold consultations on the situation in Yemen and to receive a briefing by the Secretary-General’s Special Adviser and UN Envoy Jamal Benomar.

In addition, a donors’ conference on Yemen is expected to be held in Riyadh in early September, and the next Friends of Yemen ministerial-level meeting is expected to take place on the margins of the General Assembly in late September. (Saudi Arabia, the UK and Yemen jointly chair the Friends of Yemen, which includes key Persian Gulf countries, the G8 and intergovernmental organisations.)

No Council action is expected at this point.

Key Recent Developments

Benomar last briefed Council members on 17 July (under the terms of resolution 2014 the Council receives a briefing on Yemen every 60 days; these briefings have customarily been given in consultations).  He noted that several political, humanitarian and security challenges continued to hamper the transition process and described interference from former President Ali Abdullah Saleh and his kinsmen as a key obstacle to stability. Benomar also updated the Council on preparations for the national dialogue conference. (The outcome of the national dialogue conference will feed into the constitution-making process that is to conclude in late 2013, enabling presidential and parliamentary elections in February 2014.) On 16 July, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon noted in a statement that “the national dialogue will be an opportunity for all actors in Yemen to collectively establish a new social contract and achieve national reconciliation.”

Yemen’s transition process moved one step further when, on 6 August, President Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi issued decrees concerning the restructuring of the security sector. (The decrees transferred the command of some of the Republican Guard units to a newly created force called Presidential Protective Forces [PPF] and placed many other Republican Guard units under different regional commands. Other dissident army units have also either been incorporated into the PPF or placed under other regional commands. The Republican Guard, until recently, has been under the command of Ahmed Ali Abdullah Saleh, son of the former President.)

Benomar, in a statement issued on the next day, said that the issuance of the decrees marked an important step towards creating “the necessary conditions and take the necessary steps to integrate the armed forces under unified, national and professional leadership in the context of the rule of law.”

However, the ongoing interference from Saleh became apparent on 14 August when Republican Guard troops under the command of his son attacked the Defence Ministry in Sanaa, killing five people and wounding 17.

The overall security situation in the country has been precarious, with several troubling incidents occurring recently:  

  • a suicide bombing in a police academy in Sanaa killed at least six people and left several injured on 11 July;
  • security forces discovered and defused a bomb at the entrance of an intelligence services building in Aden on 23 July;
  • clashes between government forces and gunmen wearing police uniforms who were occupying the Interior Ministry in Sanaa left 15 dead and 43 injured on 31 July;
  • five people were reported dead when Al-Qaida-linked militants attacked a police station in Jaar on 1 August;
  • at least six people were reported dead and ten injured after a grenade attack in a market in Taiz on 3 August;
  • a suicide bombing allegedly carried out by Al-Qaida-affiliated militants killed 45 people and left dozens injured in Jaar on 5 August;
  • suspected Al-Qaida militants attacked the intelligence headquarters in Aden, killing 14 people on 18 August; and
  • a gunman opened fire on a mosque in Aden during Eid prayers on 19 August, killing nine people and injuring 11. 
Human Rights-Related Developments

On 24 July the government of Yemen and the UN Development Programme (UNDP) signed an agreement to carry on a project aimed at strengthening human rights during the transition period in Yemen. The agreement commits the UNDP and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights to help establish an independent national human rights body, develop civil society capacities in human rights and assist the Ministry of Human Rights to contribute effectively to the transitional process.

Key Issues

The key challenge for the Council is to determine what further role it can play in assisting Yemen to foster a peaceful political transition that abides by the timetables of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) Initiative and the accompanying Implementation Mechanism.

A related issue for the Council is dealing with the continuously precarious security, human rights and humanitarian situation in Yemen, which could undermine the new government’s position and the prospects for the political transition process.

Options

The Council’s options include:

  • keeping abreast of the developments in Yemen and receiving regular briefings from Benomar and the Department of Political Affairs;
  • adopting a clear message directed at spoilers, including former President Saleh, in order to give credence to its readiness to consider further measures, including under Article 41 of the Charter;
  • visiting Yemen to send a strong signal about its support for a peaceful and successful transition; and
  • requesting briefings regarding the human rights situation and the humanitarian crisis from the relevant UN actors, as well as international and regional organisations.
Council Dynamics

Council members seem to be in agreement that Yemen is a complicated situation, where the ongoing interference from Saleh and his relatives to undermine the transition process remains a key obstacle.

Most Council members appear concerned about the deteriorating security, human rights and humanitarian picture in Yemen. They consider the recent increase in terrorist activity as strongly signalling the urgency of political, military and security reforms. However, most Council members seem encouraged by the progress in Yemen, which albeit slow, seems promising in comparison to the situation in Syria.

The UK has the lead in the Council on Yemen.

UN Documents
Security Council Resolutions  
12 June 2012 S/RES/2051 This resolution focused on the second phase of the transition and expressed the Council’s readiness to consider further measures, including under Article 41 of the Charter.
21 October 2011 S/RES/2014 This was the resolution endorsing the GCC initiative for a peaceful transition of power.
Security Council Presidential Statements  
29 March 2012 S/PRST/2012/8 This presidential statement noted Council members’ concern over the deterioration in the situation since the transfer of power to President Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi on 25 February.
Security Council Press Statements  
21 May 2012 SC/10656 The Council condemned the suicide attack that killed 96 soldiers in Sana’a on 21 May.
7 March 2012 SC/10571 The Council condemned the terrorist attacks that occurred in Abyan province.
22 February 2012 SC/10553 The Council noted the significance of presidential elections and encouraged further transitional steps to be taken promptly.
28 November 2011 SC/10460 The Council welcomed the signing of the GCC initiative.
24 June 2011 SC/10296 The Council expressed grave concern at the deteriorating security and humanitarian situation.
Security Council Meeting Records  
30 August 2012 S/PV.6776 This was a Security Council meeting on Yemen.
29 March 2012 S/PV.6744 This was a meeting on the situation in the Middle East.
Security Council Letters  
21 June 2012 S/2012/470 This letter was from the President of the Council noting the receipt of the Secretary-General’s 18 June letter.
18 June 2012 S/2012/469 This letter was from the Secretary-General to the President of the Council noting his intention to establish a small office of the Special Adviser for the initial period of 12 months.
Other Relevant Facts

Special Adviser to the Secretary-General on Yemen and UN Envoy to Yemen
Jamal Benomar (Morocco)