Expected Council Action
In March, the Council expects a briefing in consultations on Yemen by Jamal Benomar, Special Adviser to the Secretary-General on the situation in Yemen.
No outcome is expected.
Key Recent Developments
The Council was briefed on 7 February by Ambassadors Mohammed Loulichki (Morocco) and Mark Lyall Grant (UK), co-leads of the Security Council visit to Yemen on 27 January (S/PV.6916). Both confirmed the achievement of the mission’s objectives, which were to evaluate implementation of resolution 2051 and to assess progress on political transition. Following this, the Council received a briefing in consultations from Benomar.
On 15 February, after negotiations on references to reports of money and weapons being brought into Yemen from outside the country to undermine the transition, the Council adopted a presidential statement (S/PRST/2013/3). Welcoming the announcement by Yemeni President Abdrabuh Mansour Hadi that the National Dialogue Conference would start on 18 March, the statement highlighted the importance of inclusivity during the transition process and stressed that it was important that the transition proceed according to the original timeline, ensuring the National Dialogue leads to a constitutional referendum followed by elections by February 2014. The statement also sent a strong message to potential spoilers, singling out former President Ali Abdullah Saleh and former Vice President Ali Salim Al-Beidh, and reiterating Council members’ readiness to consider sanctions against individuals who interfere in the political transition process.
In a report published in February focusing on Yemen’s response to the “Friday of Dignity” killings of protesters on 18 March 2011, Human Rights Watch called on the Security Council to impose sanctions on current and former officials implicated in the attack. It cited the immunity law—passed by parliament in January 2012 in exchange for Saleh’s resignation—as an obstacle to bringing those responsible to justice.
The question of what will happen to Saleh remains unclear. In a speech delivered to supporters in Sana’a on 19 February, Saleh reportedly stated that leaving Yemen is not an acceptable option for him.
Many are concerned about the influence of the former president and close associates, such as Major General Mohsen Ali al-Ahmar and the al-Ahmar family more generally, in the political transition currently underway. With extensive networks of patronage and tribal influence—including among the armed forces—they are reportedly contributing to a sense of mistrust across the country. While Hadi issued presidential decrees in December 2012 aiming to centralise the armed forces, many agree that he has yet to unify and maintain them under his control.
Commemorating the one-year anniversary of the election of Hadi, two parallel demonstrations were held in Aden on 21 February: one by members of the southern separation movement and a second by members of the Islah party, in support of national unity and Hadi. Security forces fired on protesters calling for southern independence, killing four and wounding nearly 30.
On 23 January, the Yemeni coast guard—in coordination with the US Navy—intercepted a ship carrying missiles and rockets allegedly sent by Iran for the purpose of undermining the transition. Iran denies any connections to the weapons. Following a request from the Security Council, the Panel of Experts that monitors compliance with the 1737 Iran sanctions regime arrived in Sana’a on 22 February to investigate the incident. Concerns about the impact of such weapons being brought into the country were reflected in the 15 February presidential statement.
The humanitarian situation in Yemen continues to be dire, with food insecurity and malnutrition levels across the country deteriorating. According to the World Food Programme, the food security outlook for the first half of 2013 is expected to be slightly worse than in 2012, aggravated by the impact of poor prospects for local agricultural production.
The fifth ministerial-level meeting of the Friends of Yemen is to be held on 7 March in London, hosted by the UK and co-chaired by Saudi Arabia and Yemen.
A key issue for the Council remains the National Dialogue and the transition process and for both to proceed according to the original timeline in preparation for general elections scheduled for February 2014.
The roles of Saleh, Al-Beidh and other potential spoilers to the political transition continue to be an issue and cause concern among Council members.
A related issue involves reports of money and weapons entering Yemen, threatening Yemen’s stability.
A likely option is for the Council to receive the briefing and take no action, preferring to wait and see how the discussions of the National Dialogue evolve.
Another option is to hold further discussions related to the imposition of sanctions on spoilers to the transition, following up on the Council’s repeated warnings (in resolution 2051, during the visit to Yemen, and in its presidential statement of 15 February).
Council members continue to follow the situation in Yemen closely, remaining firm in their support for the National Dialogue and the political transition process. Council members have demonstrated their unity and consistency on the issue of sanctions and seem to be prepared to carry through with their threat to consider measures against potential spoilers.
The UK is the lead country on Yemen.
UN Documents on Yemen
|Security Council Resolution|
|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.|
|Security Council Presidential Statement|
|15 February 2013 S/PRST/2013/3||This was a presidential statement that reiterated Council members’ readiness to consider sanctions against individuals who interfere in the political transition process.|
|Security Council Meeting Record|
|7 February 2013 S/PV.6916||This was a briefing on the Security Council mission to Yemen (27 January 2013).|
Other Relevant Facts
Special Adviser to the Secretary-General and UN Envoy to Yemen
Jamal Benomar (Morocco)