January 2014 Monthly Forecast

Posted 20 December 2013
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MIDDLE EAST

Yemen

Expected Council Action

In January, the Council expects a briefing on Yemen by Jamal Benomar, the Special Adviser to the Secretary-General. Depending on whether or not the National Dialogue Conference (NDC) has concluded by the time of the briefing, the Council may either adopt a decision welcoming its conclusion and addressing the next steps, or reiterate its concerns and restate its earlier intention to impose sanctions on the spoilers of the political process.

The mandate of the Office of the Special Adviser on Yemen was renewed on 12 June 2013 without an expiration date.

Key Recent Developments

In his 27 September briefing, Benomar acknowledged that the security situation remains volatile in parts of Yemen (S/PV.7037). On 5 December, an attack by Al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) targeted the Defence Ministry and a hospital in Sana’a, causing at least 52 deaths. The Council issued a press statement the same day condemning the attack (SC/11202). There have also been deadly clashes recently between AQAP and the army in the city of Hadramout. On 11 December, hundreds of tribal sheikhs assembled and released a statement calling on the government to remove military camps and checkpoints from the city and declaring that Hadramout locals would enforce security in the governorate.

Tribal tensions continue in Dammaj (Sa’ada governorate), with clashes of Houthis, a Zaidi Shia former rebel group, with Salafi groups, leaving hundreds killed or injured since October. Consecutive ceasefires brokered by Benomar and the government to allow humanitarian access have reportedly been continually violated. Also, on 12 December, there were press reports of an attack by a US drone that hit a wedding convoy in Yakla, killing at least 15.

Although the deadline for the end of the NDC was 18 September, disagreements over key issues have delayed its conclusion. The working groups focusing on the future form of government—the southern issue, transitional justice and state-building—have yet to agree on their final reports. There reportedly are divisions within the working groups over the number of provinces Yemen will have, issues related to political isolation and post-NDC arrangements. The objective of the NDC was to agree on general principles to feed into the drafting of a new constitution. Delays in the work of the NDC postponed the holding of a referendum on the new constitution, which was initially planned for October 2013 but is now expected in 2014.

In a briefing in consultations on 27 November, Benomar reported that the NDC was only now beginning to uncover the nature and extent of the discrimination against southerners. He also announced the launch of a trust fund with a $350 million contribution from Qatar to compensate southerners unfairly dismissed from public service posts or whose land was confiscated following the 1994 civil war. He dispelled misperceptions and media reports regarding the alleged end of the mandate of President Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi in February 2014 under the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) transition agreement. Benomar stressed that the agreement makes clear that Hadi is to remain in office until the inauguration of a new president. The presidential term limit is task-oriented and determined by the accomplishment of the tasks outlined in the agreement.

Also on 27 November, the Council issued a press statement reiterating its concern about continuing reports of interference by those intent on disrupting, delaying or derailing the transition process (SC/11195). It condemned any such attempts and reaffirmed its readiness to consider further measures on spoilers of the transition process.

According to the 2014 Humanitarian Needs Overview developed by the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, an estimated 58 percent of the population—or 14.7 million people—are affected by the humanitarian crisis in Yemen. The crisis is exacerbated by the security situation, the difficulties of humanitarian access, insufficient funding of the humanitarian appeal (51 percent as of 4 December), lack of service delivery in areas of return for displaced persons, the increasing prices of basic items (90 percent of food is imported) and endemic poverty.

Key Issues

Helping ensure the stability of the Hadi government in the transition process is a key issue for the Council. Encouraging the successful conclusion of the NDC, including agreement on the form of government and promoting an inclusive preparation for the general elections, as well as constitution-drafting process, are related issues. Dispelling misunderstandings about the GCC roadmap and the next steps in the political process are further issues for the Council.

Immediate issues for the Council include the precarious security situation, the presence of AQAP and persistent violent clashes among tribal groups. Funding and supply of weapons from regional actors are related issues.

The bleak humanitarian situation, including widespread food insecurity, the challenges for internally displaced persons, returnees and refugees and limited humanitarian access, are ongoing issues.

Options

Options for the Council will depend on whether or not the NDC concludes by the time of the briefing. If the NDC concludes the Council could respond to this development by:

  • taking stock of the implementation of the GCC agreement and the political process so far and setting a framework for the second phase of the transition;
  • commending the work of the NDC despite the challenges faced;
  • encouraging the constitution-drafting assembly to honour the compromises agreed to by the NDC; and
  • encouraging the drafting of the new constitution to be based on general principles agreed by the NDC and the holding of a referendum and general elections as soon as possible.

In case the NDC has not concluded by the time of Benomar’s briefing, the Council could reiterate its concern about the significant delays in its conclusion and restate its intention to impose sanctions on spoilers of the political process.

Council Dynamics

Council members continue to follow the situation in Yemen closely. They are aware of the importance of the political transition in Yemen at a critical moment for other transition processes in the region and highlight the close cooperation with regional organisations, the constructive discussions within the Council and cost-effective UN engagement.

In a 15 February presidential statement, the Council warned former President Ali Abdullah Saleh and former Vice-President Ali Salim Al-Beidh, reiterating its readiness to consider measures under Article 41 of the UN Charter (S/PRST/2013/3). Even though Council members have reiterated their concern over continuing reports of interference by spoilers aimed at undermining the government, it is unclear whether at this stage there would be enough support among Council members to impose sanctions.

The UK is the penholder 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
27 September 2013 S/PV.7037 This was a briefing by Jamal Benomar, the Secretary-General’s Special Adviser on Yemen and Abdullatif bin Rashid Al-Zayani, the Secretary-General of the Gulf Cooperation Council.
Security Council Press Statements
5 December 2013 SC/11202 This press statement condemned the attack on the Defence Ministry and hospital in Sana’a that caused numerous deaths and injuries.
27 November 2013 SC/11195 This statement emphasised the importance of concluding Yemen’s National Dialogue Conference as soon as possible to move to constitutional drafting and electoral preparations, as the next steps in the transition.