This afternoon (29 May), the Secretary-General’s Special Adviser on Yemen, Jamal Benomar, is set to brief the Council, followed by closed consultations. Benomar will update the Council on developments in Yemen since his last briefing on 7 March. It seems that there is interest in having an outcome that would convey Council members’ willingness to assist the authorities during the transition period as well as send a clear signal to former President Ali Abdullah Saleh and his close associates not to impede progress. (Today’s briefing will be the first time that Benomar has briefed on the situation in Yemen publicly.)
Council members are likely to be particularly concerned about the recent deterioration in the security situation in Yemen and keen to hear from Benomar on the issue. On 21 May, media reports stated that 96 soldiers had died and many more injured when a uniformed man blew himself up in the midst of a military parade rehearsal in Sana’a, the day before Yemen was to commemorate its National Unity Day. Council members immediately condemned the attack in a press statement (SC/10656).
The Friends of Yemen, meeting at ministerial level on 23 May in Riyadh, also condemned the 21 May attack. (Saudi Arabia, the UK and Yemen jointly chair the Friends of Yemen group, which includes key Gulf countries, the G8 and intergovernmental organisations.) The Friends agreed to take concrete steps to assist Yemen through its political, economic and security reform process by the next ministerial meeting, in the margins of the 67th session of the General Assembly in late September.
Benomar, who has travelled to Yemen twice since his last briefing, is expected to emphasise that the transition process in Yemen remains fragile. He will likely highlight that interference from Saleh, as well as his family members (who remain in senior political and military roles), has been a key obstacle to President Abdrabuh Mansour Hadi’s reforms. (These reforms were agreed to in November 2011 when Saleh signed the Gulf Cooperation Council initiative, after the negotiation of an accompanying implementation mechanism.) Among other risks to Yemen’s stability, Benomar is expected to report terrorism linked to Al-Qaeda affiliated groups; the growing economic crisis across the country; and the lack of inclusiveness of the current transition framework as serious concerns.
It would appear that most Council members are concerned with the deteriorating security and humanitarian situations in Yemen. They consider that the recent increase in terrorist activity further underlines the urgency of military and security reforms. In addition, some members emphasise the need to distinguish between Al-Qaeda related violence and the inter-tribal clashes, where Yeminis are inclined to take up arms based on their tribal affiliations.
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