UN Security Council fails to agree on statement supporting Yemen envoy

U.N. logo pattern a press conference background at the United Nations headquarters, Tuesday, Sept. 3, 2013. (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews)
Written by Staff

UNITED NATIONS — The Security Council has failed to agree on a statement supporting the UN special envoy to Yemen who is trying to get the country’s Houthi rebels to back a peace deal and end the war.

Yemen’s internationally recognised government has approved the deal but the Iran-backed Houthis have so far rejected it.

Russia’s UN ambassador Vitaly Churkin said “the council was almost ready to make a joint pronouncement in support of the political process” late on Wednesday night when a delegation made an unacceptable demand.

Diplomats said Britain and other council members wanted a statement to criticise the Houthis for announcing a formal alliance with the country’s ousted president and his former ruling party by setting up a new political council to rule the country – a step that UN envoy Ismael Ould Cheikh Ahmed described as jeopardising peace efforts.

Britain’s deputy ambassador Peter Wilson, clearly referring to Russia, said one country wasn’t supporting its own national position.

Diplomats pointed to a statement issued by ambassadors in Yemen, including the Russian envoy, which noted “with concern” the July 28 announcement by the Houthis on the political council.

The diplomats said Mr Ould Cheikh Ahmed wanted the council to express concern about the Houthis’ action, urge all parties to abide by a cessation of hostilities that has been repeatedly broken, and call for flexibility in the peace talks – but Russia wouldn’t accept any criticism of the Houthis.

US ambassador Samantha Power said the need for a peace agreement “is acute” and warned that if the UN-sponsored talks in Kuwait fail “the risks would be grave”.

UN deputy spokesman Farhan Haq said Mr Ould Cheikh Ahmed plans to hold intensive talks in the coming days to try to get the Houthis to support the peace deal.

Meanwhile, Malaysia’s UN ambassador Ramlan Bin Ibrahim, the current president of the Security Council, expressed hope “the council will be able to find consensus on the way forward”.