SANAA – A United Nations envoy left Yemen on Monday to brief the Security Council on what appeared to be a fruitless effort to end the crisis in the Arab country where protesters are demanding the removal of President Ali Abdullah Saleh.
Jamal Benomar had spent two weeks in Yemen trying to reach a deal, but departed without announcing any breakthrough after days of mediating between the government and the opposition.
“There is a limit to Yemenis’ patience, and the responsibility to break this stalemate and put Yemen on the path to peaceful transition, reform and recovery rests on the shoulders of all the Yemeni leadership,” state news agency SABA quoted bin Benomar as saying before leaving.
Western countries are hoping to step up pressure on Saleh to step down with a proposed Security Council resolution that would urge Yemen to stick with a Gulf-brokered transition process.
Diplomats at the United Nations had said that a resolution could be proposed soon after Benomar briefs the Council, if his negotiations in Sanaa appeared deadlocked.
Protests against Saleh’s 33-year rule have paralysed Yemen, weakening central government control over swathes of the country and fanning fears al Qaeda’s local wing may use the upheaval to expand its foothold near shipping routes through the Red Sea.
The ruling General People’s Congress Party (GPC) had asked Benomar to extend his visit to discuss a modified version of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) transition of power initiative.
But people present at the meeting said the party’s offer to Benomar did not stipulate that Saleh transfer power to his deputy — a prerequisite for the opposition.
Saleh has thrice backed out of signing the transition deal.
The opposition says the government is holding up negotiations now that Saleh has returned from Saudi Arabia, where he had been receiving treatment for wounds sustained in a June assassination attempt.
The Security Council issued a statement on Yemen in late June that voiced “grave concern” about the situation there and welcomed “the ongoing mediation efforts of the Gulf Cooperation Council to help the parties find agreement on a way forward.” That statement came after months of disagreement on Yemen due to Russian and Chinese objections about what they saw as interference in the domestic affairs of a sovereign state, Western diplomats said.