Unilateral actions by parties to the conflict in Yemen amid a dangerous escalation of armed forces activities would only complicate peace efforts and delay the end of military violence, the Special Envoy of the Secretary-General to Yemen told the Security Council this morning.
Briefing the 15-member body, Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed said “the last month has been tragic for Yemen”, with peace talks in Kuwait ending on 6 August with no agreement, a severe breakdown in the cessation of hostilities, which began on 10 April, and a dangerous escalation of military activities.
He said he was extremely concerned by an announcement by Ansar Allah, a political movement associated with Yemen’s Houthi movement, and former President Ali Abdullah Saleh to form the Supreme Political Council, saying it breached commitments made by both Ansar Allah and the General People’s Congress to engage constructively in the peace process, as the Security Council had requested.
“We cannot effectively negotiate new political arrangements while unilateral steps are being taken which are inconsistent with a future comprehensive agreement,” Mr. Ahmed said. “I, therefore, urge both parties to refrain from taking any additional unilateral steps which could undermine attempts to reach a peaceful settlement.”
Going forward, Mr. Ould Cheikh Ahmed said he would resume consultations with the Government of Yemen, Ansar Allah and the General People’s Congress, seeking from them a fresh commitment to the cessation of hostilities that would include a complete de-escalation along Yemen’s border with Saudi Arabia. “The re-commitment to the cessation of hostilities will spare Yemen the further loss of life, allow the increased flow of humanitarian assistance and generate much needed confidence for the negotiation of a comprehensive and peaceful solution,” he said.
Ongoing military confrontations, he said, in Sana’a, Taiz, Al Jawf, Shabwa and Mareb governorates, as well as along the border, had resulted in tens of thousands of casualties, extensive destruction, renewed displacement and numerous violations of international humanitarian and human rights law. It had also created opportunities for terrorist groups, with Al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula and Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/Da’esh) wreaking havoc in significant parts of the country, he added, citing a 29 August suicide attack in Aden.
Although the Kuwait talks had yielded no agreement, they had produced “the architecture of a road map” that would be expanded upon in the coming weeks, he said, adding that he had agreed with the parties to pursue consultations separately and to reconvene direct talks at a later stage. He warned, however, that delaying progress would be dangerous, however, given a grave deterioration in the Yemen’s economy, which had seen the stoppage of salary payments and an average increase of at least 60 per cent in food prices from pre-crisis levels.
Recalling his recent meetings with regional leaders, Mr. Ahmed said a proposed agreement for Yemen would define a path for a Government of National Unity that would be formed immediately after the withdrawal and handover of heavy weapons from Sana’a and other vital areas. The agreement would also provide for the immediate restoration of State institutions free of interference from revolutionary committees or other bodies created during the conflict.
Khaled Hussein Mohamed Alyemany of Yemen told the Council that he had great hopes that the briefing would be held in the context of progress on the path to peace. However, he said, the Houthi militias had continued to wage war and kill innocent people, expel civilians, blow up homes and houses of worship, attack the border region with Saudi Arabia and feed terrorist gangs in Iraq and through its regional agency, Hizbullah. The Yemeni Government had without question renewed its commitment to choose the path of peace to end the suffering of the people of Yemen, who continued to face the consequences of an unjust war. The Government believed that peace was the only way to rid the country of criminal gangs and warlords and had continued to make the painful concessions for peace in Yemen, all the while the militias had staunchly rejected any peaceful solutions.
The war could be ended today, he said, if the Yemeni people were able to triumph over the criminal gangs that had turned daily life into a nightmare. The Houthi gangs had destroyed what little progress had been made in recent years in Yemen. Despite the militias continuing to raise the flag of death, the Government had sought to renew hope that there could be a return to normal life and a democratic Yemen, where all people lived in peace and security. The Yemeni people’s suffering had reached unbelievable levels with regard to health, education and other services. International humanitarian and human rights laws were continuously violated, despite the efforts of the Government to reduce the consequences of the chaotic war that had been launched against the people of Yemen.