June 2022 Monthly Forecast

MIDDLE EAST

Yemen

Expected Council Action

In June, the Council is expected to hold its monthly briefing on Yemen, followed by closed consultations. Special Envoy for Yemen Hans Grundberg and an OCHA official will brief. Major General Michael Beary, the head of the UN Mission to Support the Hodeidah Agreement (UNMHA), is expected to brief during consultations. The mandate of UNMHA expires on 15 July.

Key Recent Developments

The truce that started on 2 April between the Yemeni government and the Houthi rebel group has largely held, marked by a sharp reduction in civilian casualties and a continued pause in cross-border attacks. With the truce set to expire in early June, attention has focused on securing its extension.

On 11 May, the UN and the Netherlands hosted a pledging event in The Hague for a UN-facilitated plan to resolve the threat posed by the FSO Safer, an ageing oil tanker off the Houthi-held port of Ras Isa that has served as floating storage and offloading facility since the 1980s. The vessel is at risk of breaking up or having a major oil leak or explosion due to lack of maintenance. The UN-facilitated plan requires $144 million, including $80 million, to immediately begin and complete its first phase, which involves transferring the oil from the Safer to a temporary vessel before more volatile winds and currents return in October, which increase the risks to the Safer and make the operation more difficult. The conference fell far short of this goal, generating $40 million.

On 16 May, the first commercial flight in almost six years took off from Sana’a airport, travelling to Amman, Jordan, and carrying 130 Yemeni passengers. The flight was in keeping with the truce agreement, which allows two commercial flights per week in and out of Sana’a airport to Egypt and Jordan. The resumption of flights was initially delayed because of a dispute over Houthi-issued passports. The government eventually agreed to allow Yemenis in rebel-held territories to travel using the Houthi-issued passports.

Council members held their monthly meeting on Yemen in closed consultations on 17 May. Grundberg told members that the truce is largely holding and that his priority is to secure agreement to extend it. In addition to the resumption of civilian flights, he noted the increased flow of fuel imports through Hodeidah ports. At a press conference after the meeting, Grundberg said that since the truce began, the Yemeni government had cleared 11 fuel ships to enter through Hodeidah, bringing more fuel than had arrived during the previous six months.

In the meeting, Grundberg also highlighted the importance of implementing the other elements of the truce agreement in order to secure its extension, including the re-opening of roads around Taiz. Taiz has been under Houthi siege for years, with access limited to one dangerous, mountainous road. During the press conference, Grundberg reported that the government had appointed representatives for a meeting under UN auspices on re-opening roads, which the UN will organise in Amman as soon as the Houthis appoint their representatives. He also continued to engage the parties on the establishment of a military mechanism to support the truce and on his framework for an inclusive, multi-track political process.

OCHA Acting Operations Director Ghada Eltahir Mudawi also briefed members during the consultations, reportedly highlighting that the truce had brought significant improvements in the protection of civilians and the humanitarian situation, including increased humanitarian access to hard-to-reach areas. Despite the overall improvements, she noted low-intensity fighting in Marib and Taiz, including recent Houthi shelling that had killed civilians in Taiz. General Beary informed Council members that UNMHA had reached an agreement with the government to establish a permanent presence for the mission in Mocha city.

In press elements issued after the meeting, Council members welcomed all parties’ efforts to uphold the truce, highlighting the Yemeni government’s “flexibility in enabling the entry of fuel ships into Hodeidah and enabling flights between Sana’a and Amman”. Members encouraged the parties to continue fulfilling the terms of the truce, especially in meeting to discuss opening roads to Taiz. They further urged the parties to extend the truce in coordination with the UN Envoy.

From 25 to 28 May, Yemeni government officials and Houthi representatives met under UN auspices in Amman, Jordan, to discuss options for opening roads in Taiz and other governorates. The meeting did not result in an agreement. In a statement at the talks’ conclusion, Grundberg called on “the parties to conclude their internal deliberations urgently and deliver positive results to the Yemeni people”.

Key Issues and Options

The two-month truce agreement is set to expire on 2 June, and a priority is securing its extension. As the UN Special Envoy has suggested, a key issue for an extension is progress on re-opening roads in and around Taiz.

A further key issue is making progress on restarting a political process, as the truce will be unsustainable without a process in place for a comprehensive political settlement. Grundberg has been developing a multi-track framework for an inclusive political process that he had hoped to present this spring, though it seems that, with the creation in April of the Yemeni government’s new eight-member Presidential Leadership Council (PLC), completing this framework will take more time. Council members could encourage the parties’ continued engagement with the UN Special Envoy to strengthen the truce and urge Grundberg to continue his consultations with Yemeni stakeholders to complete his framework for a political process, which the Council could then endorse.

Notwithstanding the truce’s positive impact on Yemen’s humanitarian crisis, key issues remain, such as preventing famine, improving humanitarian access, supporting the economy, and raising funds for relief operations. Rising global food and energy prices since the start of the war in Ukraine present significant threats to efforts to ease Yemen’s humanitarian crisis. Members could encourage donors to contribute to the UN’s 2022 Yemen humanitarian response plan, which remains underfunded, as well as to fulfil remaining funding requirements to begin implementing the UN-facilitated plan for the FSO Safer.

Council Dynamics

Council members have remained generally united over Yemen despite the increased polarisation in the Security Council since the start of the war in Ukraine. The P5 ambassadors to Yemen (China, France, Russia, the UK, and the US) have maintained coordination in support of the UN envoy’s efforts. In the Council, members have encouraged the parties to uphold and extend the truce. They also want the parties to make progress towards starting a political process for a comprehensive settlement to end the war. Members have also welcomed the formation of the PLC, viewing its diverse representation as important to the Envoy’s approach for a more inclusive political process, despite some concerns among members over Saudi Arabia’s reported pressure on the unpopular president, Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi, to step down. The United Arab Emirates, an elected Council member, is closely involved in the war as a member of the Saudi Arabia-led coalition that backs the government and will strongly push for its views to be reflected in Council products.

The UK is the penholder on Yemen. Ambassador Ferit Hoxha (Albania) chairs the Yemen 2140 Sanctions Committee.

UN DOCUMENTS ON YEMEN

Security Council Resolutions
28 February 2022S/RES/2624 This resolution renewed the Yemen sanctions regime for one year and added the Houthis as an entity to the Yemen sanctions list, subject to the measures of the targeted arms embargo in resolution 2216.
14 July 2021S/RES/2586 This extended the mandate of UNMHA until 15 July 2022.
Security Council Meeting Record
14 April 2022S/PV.9017 This was a briefing on Yemen.
Security Council Press Statement
13 April 2022SC/14861 This press statement welcomed the creation of and the assumption of responsibilities by the Presidential Leadership Council of the Yemeni Government .