November 2022 Monthly Forecast

Posted 31 October 2022
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MIDDLE EAST

Yemen

Expected Council Action

In November, the Security Council will hold its monthly briefing, followed by consultations, on Yemen. UN Special Envoy for Yemen Hans Grundberg and a representative from OCHA are expected to brief. Major General Michael Beary, the head of the UN Mission to Support the Hodeidah Agreement (UNMHA), is expected to brief during the consultations.

Key Recent Developments

Yemen’s truce, which had been in place since April and was extended twice, expired on 2 October, despite intensive efforts to renew and expand the truce agreement. In a statement on 2 October, Grundberg expressed regret that the parties had not accepted his latest proposal, submitted the day before, to extend the truce. According to the envoy, this proposal entailed a six-month truce renewal, the payment of civil servants’ salaries and pensions, the opening of specific roads in Taiz and other governorates, additional flight destinations from Sana’a airport, unhindered entry of fuel ships into Hodeidah port, a commitment to release detainees urgently, and the strengthening of de-escalation mechanisms through the Military Coordination Committee (MCC). Grundberg said that he would continue to engage the parties in order to reach an agreement, while calling on the sides to maintain calm and refrain from any actions that could escalate violence.

The main obstacle in the talks to renew the truce was the Houthis’ position that their security forces be included in the salary payments of civil servants, which the government could not accept. In a 5 October press statement, Council members expressed “deep disappointment” that the truce had not been renewed and said that the Houthis’ “maximalist demands” had hindered efforts to reach agreement. Council members reiterated that they expect the parties to find a way to reinstate the truce.

Briefing the Council on 13 October, Grundberg expressed “regret that Ansar Allah came up with additional demands that could not be met”, referring to the Houthis by their official name. He reported, however, that since the truce’s expiry, there had not been a significant escalation of military operations. Other arrangements established by the truce have also continued, such as civilian flights between Sana’a and Amman, Jordan, and fuel ships’ access to Hodeidah port, according to Grundberg.

Assistant Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Joyce Msuya also briefed, addressing the Council via videoconference from Yemen, where she had been on mission, visiting Aden, Ma’rib, Sana’a, and Hodeidah since 8 October. Msuya described witnessing how the collapse of the economy and basic services were the main drivers of humanitarian need, making food in markets too expensive for many people and leaving hospitals and schools without basic equipment. In a sign of progress, new evaluations of the humanitarian situation show that the number of people estimated to face acute food insecurity during the last quarter of 2022 had fallen to 17 million from 19 million earlier this year, Msuya said. The number of people estimated to be in famine-like conditions is projected to reduce from 161,000 people to zero. Msuya also reiterated calls for the parties to reach an agreement to extend and expand the truce.

On 21 October, the Houthis used explosive-laden drones to target an oil tanker off the al-Dubba oil terminal in Hadramawt governorate, claiming that this was a “warning strike” to prevent pro-government forces from using the terminal for oil exports. The Greek shipowners said there were “two drone-driven explosions in close proximity” to the vessel as it tried to load at the port but that the vessel had not sustained damage. Leading up to the truce’s expiry, the Houthis had announced that foreign and national companies should halt oil exports as long as the issue of salary payments was not resolved. Grundberg condemned the attack in a statement, calling it “a deeply worrying military escalation”. Security Council members condemned the “Houthi terrorist drone attacks” against the oil terminal in a 26 October press statement. They called the attack a serious threat to the peace process and stability of Yemen, as well as to maritime security including the navigational rights and freedoms provided under international law.

Human-Rights Related Developments

During its 51st session, the Human Rights Council adopted (without a vote) a resolution on 7 October that requests the High Commissioner for Human Rights to continue to provide substantive capacity-building and technical assistance to the government of Yemen (A/HRC/51/L.38).

Key Issues and Options

Averting an escalation and restoring the truce are critical issues. Council members are likely to monitor Grundberg’s ongoing mediation efforts. Members may call on the parties, especially the Houthis, to show flexibility in talks and recall the benefits brought by the truce agreement. In the event that an expanded truce agreement is brokered, the Council could adopt a presidential statement to endorse the deal while encouraging the parties to maintain and translate the truce into a ceasefire agreement that leads to an inclusive political process under UN auspices for a comprehensive settlement of the conflict.

Rising global food and energy prices as a result of the war in Ukraine have complicated efforts to address humanitarian needs in Yemen despite the reduction in fighting since the April truce. Members could encourage more donors to contribute to the UN’s 2022 Yemen humanitarian response plan, which in mid-October was 48 percent funded, with the US providing more than $1 billion of the $2 billion that has been received so far. Members may also closely monitor progress towards starting the salvage operation for the FSO Safer oil tanker that is moored off Hodeidah port; in September, the UN-facilitated plan to remove the oil from the decrepit ship finally received the donor commitments required to conduct the first phase of the operation.

Council and Wider Dynamics

Council members want the parties to restore the truce and have criticised the Houthis’ “maximalist demands” that prevented the renewal and expansion of the armistice agreement in October. The United Arab Emirates (UAE)—an elected Council member that has been closely involved in the conflict as a member of the Saudi Arabia-led coalition battling the Houthis—actively pushes for its views, particularly regarding the Houthis, to be reflected in Council products. Russia traditionally resists language in Council products that it perceives as too critical of the Houthis or not balanced. This year, however, Russia has been more flexible in Council negotiations on Yemen, which appears to reflect its bilateral relations with the UAE. The US Special Envoy for Yemen, Timothy Lenderking, has engaged in regional diplomacy to support UN efforts to extend and re-establish the truce. While Saudi Arabia exercises leverage on the Yemeni government, Oman often plays an important role as an interlocutor with the Houthis. Ahead of the truce’s renewal on 2 August, an Omani delegation visited Sana’a to help secure its extension, and it similarly sent a delegation to Sana’a ahead of the truce’s 2 October expiry date.

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

UN DOCUMENTS ON YEMEN

Security Council Meeting Record
13 October 2022S/PV.9152 This was a Council briefing on Yemen.
Security Council Press Statements
26 October 2022SC/15080 This press statement condemned the Houthi terrorist drone attacks on 21 October that struck the Al-Dubba oil terminal.
5 October 2022SC/15054 This was a press statement expressing “deep disappointment” on the expiration of Yemen’s truce, and reiterating that the parties should find a way forward to reinstate the truce.

 

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