June 2014 Monthly Forecast

Posted 30 May 2014
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MIDDLE EAST

Yemen

Expected Council Action

In June, Council members expect a briefing in consultations on Yemen by Jamal Benomar, the Special Adviser to the Secretary-General on Yemen.

The mandate of the Special Adviser was renewed on 12 June 2013 without an expiration date. The sanctions regime established by resolution 2140 expires on 26 February 2015.

Key Recent Developments

The security situation in Yemen continues to deteriorate. A 20-21 April air campaign conducted by the army and reportedly supported by US drone strikes targeted Al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) militants in the south. As a result of major military operations launched on 29 April against AQAP strongholds in Abyan, Al Bayda and Shabwah governorates, up to 24,500 people have been displaced, according to an estimate by the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). AQAP has targeted military bases in retaliation, including the killing in Shabwah of 15 soldiers on 29 April and 11 soldiers on 11 May in Al-Mukalla. On 5 May, the Council issued a press statement regarding the killing of a French national working at the EU delegation in Sana’a as well as other recent terrorist attacks in Yemen (SC/11381). Clashes between Salafist groups and the army against Zaidi Shi’a Houthis in Amran, Dhammar and Sana’a continue. Against this backdrop, OCHA reported that conflict in al-Dhale’e district, where armed local tribesmen from the Southern movement (Hiraak) had been fighting the government for months, has now subsided and most internally displaced persons (IDPs) have returned home.

Resolution 2140 established a clear sequence for the political transition process in line with the outcome of the National Dialogue Conference (NDC)—drafting a new constitution, adopting a new electoral law, holding a referendum and general elections and adopting a federal state structure. The Constitution Drafting Commission developed a preliminary draft text on the economic, social and cultural foundational principles for the new constitution. On 25 April, the government appointed a national authority for the implementation of the NDC final outcome. Although a commission was appointed to carry out the NDC recommendation to divide Yemen into six federal regions, with four of them in the north, buy-in from Hiraak remains unclear. On 21 May, Hiraak organised large demonstrations in Aden to mark the 20th anniversary of the war between the South and the North.

Yemen’s economic problems remain a challenge for its stability. The government is currently facing difficulties to pay for highly-subsidised fuel, which has sparked protests, and has recently announced that it is planning to reduce fuel subsidies.

On 14 May, Ambassador Raimonda MurmokaitÄ— (Lithuania), chair of the 2140 Yemen Sanctions Committee, briefed the Council on progress in setting up the Committee. This included the adoption of its guidelines, the appointment of its Panel of Experts (PoE), its first meetings—including one with representatives from the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC)—and cooperation with other sanctions committees. (In the 24 April consultations with Council members, Benomar highlighted that there was some evidence that the setting-up of the Sanctions Committee is being closely monitored in Yemen by those who are concerned that they might be listed.)

Key Issues

Helping ensure the stability of the government in the transition process and solidifying the results of the NDC is the key issue for the Council. Making full use of the sanctions regime and preventing spoilers—such as former President Ali Abdullah Saleh and former Vice-President Ali Salim Al-Beidh—from further obstructing the political process are closely related issues.

Promoting the inclusivity of the constitution-drafting process and preparing for the general elections are key issues in the upcoming period.

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

The bleak humanitarian situation—including widespread food insecurity; the challenges for IDPs, returnees and refugees; limited humanitarian access; and funding difficulties—is an ongoing issue.

The government’s continuing reluctance to address past human rights violations and examine lessons learnt despite prior commitments to do so has become an issue of concern for the Council.

Options

Options for the Council include:

  • receiving a briefing and taking no action; or
  • issuing a statement urging the government to form the commission originally intended to address the 2011 human rights violations and, as per the NDC final document, a Transitional Justice Commission to address past abuses and lessons learnt, ensure reparations for victims and help establish an all-inclusive historical narrative.
Council and Wider Dynamics

Even though some GCC members raised concerns regarding the establishment of the sanctions regime in Yemen, GCC representatives, along with Yemen, participated in the first meeting of the Sanctions Committee. Also, on 24 April, Benomar briefed Council members on his visits to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates and conveyed the support of the two countries for the political transition in Yemen.

Some Council members seem to be of the opinion that no listing is needed at this point, believing that the threat of being listed may be enough of a deterrent. That view could lead to fundamental discussions about the objectives of the regime if the PoE suggests individuals for listing. 

The UK is the penholder on Yemen.

UN Documents on Yemen 

Security Council Resolution
26 February 2014 S/RES/2140 This resolution expressed the Council’s strong support for the next steps of the political transition and established sanctions against those threatening the peace, security or stability of Yemen.
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 Press Statement
5 May 2014 SC/11381 This was a press statement that condemned a terrorist attack in Sana’a on 5 May, which killed one french national and injured others, as well as other recent terrorist attacks in Yemen.
Security Council Meeting Records
14 May 2014 S/PV.7175 This was the first briefing by the chair of the 2140 Yemen Sanctions Committee.
26 February 2014 S/PV.7119 This was the meeting where resolution 2140 was adopted.