August 2014 Monthly Forecast

Posted 1 August 2014
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MIDDLE EAST

Yemen

Expected Council Action

In August, 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. Clashes in the northern province of Amran between the Houthis, a Zaidi Shi’a rebel group, and armed groups affiliated with the Al-Islah political party became more violent in June and July, resulting in at least 200 dead and some 45,000 internally displaced persons according to an estimate by the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). On 11 July, after being briefed by Benomar under “any other business”, the Council issued a press statement demanding that the Houthis withdraw and relinquish control of Amran and hand over weapons and ammunition to the government (SC/11470). Several ceasefires had been consecutively broken in June and at press time another ceasefire had just been agreed to after a visit of President Abdo Rabbud Mansour Hadi to Amran. A campaign initiated by the government in April against Al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) has persisted in southern Yemen and AQAP has targeted military bases and personnel in retaliation, including the killing of five soldiers in two separate incidents on 28 June.

Yemen is currently in the first phase of the political transition outlined by resolution 2140 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 has been divided into working groups and its work is currently underway, although it is unclear if it will be able to respect the timeframe established by the government. A national body created by the government in April to monitor the implementation of the NDC outcome is not operational yet. In addition to the critical security situation, challenges to the transition process come from political spoilers. On 14 June, Hadi ordered the removal of heavy weaponry from the outskirts of Sana’a and had troops stationed outside a mosque controlled by former President Ali Abdullah Saleh due to fears of a coup attempt. Earlier, on June 11, Hadi partially reshuffled the cabinet and also ordered the closing down of a television station operated by his own party, the General People’s Congress, yet closely associated with Saleh.

Economic problems continue to hinder the transition process in Yemen. The government has had difficulties paying for the highly subsidised fuel for some time and suggestions that it plans to reduce fuel subsidies has sparked protests in the past. The IMF has offered a $560 million loan if there are cuts to subsidies and spending. (The government currently spends a third of state revenue on fuel subsidies annually.) Along with the risk of a raise of fuel prices in such an unstable context, the current situation, which includes increasing shortages, does not seem to be sustainable either.

The 2014 Humanitarian Response Plan developed by OCHA highlights how an estimated 58.3 percent of Yemen’s population—or 14.7 million people—are in need of humanitarian aid. The crisis is exacerbated by the security situation, the difficulties of humanitarian access, insufficient funding, lack of service delivery in areas of return, the increasing prices of basic items (90 percent of food is imported) and endemic poverty.

On 24 June, Ambassador Raimonda MurmokaitÄ— (Lithuania) chaired a joint meeting of the 2140 Yemen Sanctions Committee, the 1267/1989 Al-Qaida Sanctions Committee and the 1373 Counter-Terrorism Committee. According to a press release issued after the meeting, participants agreed that the presence of AQAP in Yemen remains a major challenge to the country’s peaceful transition and identified a range of opportunities to enhance coordination and cooperation among relevant UN and Security Council entities in supporting counter-terrorism efforts (SC/11463).

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 Saleh, former Vice-President Ali Salim Al-Beidh and Houthi leader Abdullah Yahya Al-Hakim (Abu Ali)—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 and the need for disarmament of heavy weapons 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

The Council could issue a statement that would:

  • urge all parties to the conflict in the north to engage in a political process aimed at halting violence, addressing root causes and ensuring the stability of the transition;
  • urge all armed groups to accept a simultaneous and phased disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration process, starting by heavy weapons; and
  • request the Secretary-General to establish an international commission of inquiry following the failure of the government to investigate human rights violations committed during the 2011 uprising.

The Council could also move to list Saleh, Al-Beidh and Abu Ali under the 2140 sanctions regime, either as a decision of the Sanctions Committee or through a resolution.

Council and Wider Dynamics

In the discussion in consultations on the gravity of the situation in Amran, some Council members raised the possibility of using the tools under resolution 2140 to impose sanctions on political spoilers in Yemen. Some Council members also mentioned the need to investigate these events by the Panel of Experts. However, there are Council members that seem to be of the opinion that no listing is needed at this point, believing that the threat of being listed may still be enough of a deterrent. Even though an early draft of the Council’s 11 July press statement named some spoilers of the political process, these were finally dropped.

The initiative of the chair of the 2140 Sanctions Committee to convene joint meetings of counter-terrorism-related subsidiary bodies of the Council and regularly brief Gulf Cooperation Council members on the steps taken by the Committee seems to be positively changing the negative reaction some countries in the region had when the sanctions regime was established.

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
11 July 2014 SC/11470 This press statement expressed grave concern about the serious deterioration of the security situation in Yemen in the light of the violence in Amran.
Security Council Letter
2 July 2014 S/2014/465 Through this letter, the Secretary-General appointed Mohammad Sbaiti (Lebanon) to serve on the Panel of Experts of the 2140 Sanctions Committee.
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.