Political Analysis

UN Imposes Arms Embargo On Yemen Houthi Rebels

National Yemen

High-level meeting of the Security Council on peace and security in Yemen

The United Nations Security Council on April 14 imposed an arms embargo on the Iran-allied Huthi rebels who rule much of the country.

Fourteen council members voted in favor of the embargo, while Russia abstained, saying some of its proposals for the resolution, drafted by council member Jordan and Gulf Arab states, were not included.

UN rights chief Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein called on Tuesday for investigations into the high level of civilian casualties that account for almost half of the at least 736 deaths recorded in the conflict.

Al Qaeda has sought to exploit the turmoil to expand its foothold in Yemen, a front-line in the US war on the Sunni extremist group.

But in a setback for what Washington considers the deadliest branch of the jihadist network, Yemen-based Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) said its ideological leader Ibrahim al-Rubaish had been killed in a drone strike on Monday.

Russia, which has friendly relations with Iran, abstained from the Security Council vote, but did not veto the measure that was put forward by Jordan and Gulf countries and backed by the other 14 of the 15 council members.

The Houthis have seized swathes of Yemen since they entered the capital Sanaa in September after sweeping south from their northern stronghold.

The air campaign by Saudi Arabia and a coalition of five Gulf monarchies, along with Egypt, Jordan, Morocco and Sudan, has so far failed to stop the rebel advance.

The UN resolution was the first formal action taken by the Security Council since the start of the Saudi-led bombing raids.

The resolution demands the Shiite Houthis withdraw from Sanaa and all other areas seized during their months-long offensive.

It slaps an arms embargo on Houthi leaders and their allies, a measure Russia sought to extend to all sides in the conflict.

The resolution puts Houthi leader Abdulmalik al-Huthi and ex-president Ali Abdullah Saleh’s eldest son, Ahmed, on a sanctions list, imposing a global travel ban and an assets freeze on the two men.

The Houthis have allied with troops loyal to Saleh, who was forced from power in 2012 following a year of nationwide protests against his three-decade rule.

Russia had demanded humanitarian pauses in Yemen but the resolution fell short of that request and instead instructed UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon to intensify efforts to negotiate such ceasefires.

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