8619th Security Council Meeting: Situation in Middle East

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16-Sep-2019 02:02:36
Briefing Security Council on Yemen, Special Envoy warns oil facilities attack could threaten regional stability, calls for inclusive process to end fighting at 8619th meeting.

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The top United Nations official in Yemen called for advancing “with purpose and resolve” towards a political solution to end the conflict, now in its fourth year, as Security Council delegates today cautioned that the 14 September attack on oil facilities in Saudi Arabia could spark a regional conflagration.

Such prospects would be “terrifying”, said the Special Envoy for Yemen, briefing the Council from Geneva. They would also run counter to the many conversations he has had with the parties. The fact that Ansar Allah has claimed responsibility for the assault is a sign that Yemen is moving away from peace, he said, noting that, with each day that the war persists, the greater the threat to regional stability. “We need to take a bold move,” he said.

In southern Yemen, he said Aden remains under the control of the Southern Transitional Council, while in neighbouring Abiyan, its forces face those of Yemen’s Government. In Shabwa, a shaky standoff has been achieved. Forces from other fronts have moved to support their respective sides, a “new and dangerous crisis” which, in turn, encourages military adventurism.

Regarding the other elements of the 2018 agreements reached in Sweden, he said no breakthroughs have been made on prisoners, while the complex military situation in Ta’izz has posed serious challenges to implementing the statement of understanding. He pressed Yemeni parties to resume an inclusive political process to end the fighting. “We must maintain the momentum,” he stressed.

Against that backdrop, the Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator said “we seem no closer to the outcome we all say we want”. Two weeks ago, more than 100 people were killed in air strikes on a university-turned-prison in Dharmar Governorate, while on 13 September, shelling by Ansar Allah-affiliated forces in Hudaydah left 11 civilians dead, 7 of them children. In the south, clashes between the Government and Southern Transitional Council forces are undermining efforts to prevent and treat cholera and stave off extreme hunger.

Despite the Council’s repeated call for unimpeded humanitarian access, the operating environment for aid agencies has perhaps never been worse, he said. Those agencies reported 300 incidents that hindered aid delivery to 4.9 million people — most of them due to restrictions imposed by Ansar Allah authorities seeking to introduce regulations for international non-governmental organizations that would undermine humanitarian principles.

In the ensuing discussion, delegates broadly condemned the attack on Saudi Arabia’s oil facilities, with the United Kingdom’s delegate calling them a clear violation of international law, the United States delegate stressing that Iran must stop arming the Houthis and the Russian Federation’s delegate saying it is too early to ascribe responsibility. He cited resolution 598 (1987), which calls for the development of a security and confidence-building architecture in the region, and pointed to the Russian notion of collective security in the Gulf area.

Many speakers called for a nationwide ceasefire, broadly welcoming the potential for talks hosted by Saudi Arabia in Jeddah to resolve the situation in Yemen’s south. Kuwait’s delegate, expressing concern over the latest developments in the south, said he looked forward to “the concerted efforts of Saudi Arabia to hold talks in Jeddah”. Others welcomed the 8-9 September joint meeting of the Redeployment Coordination Committee overseeing the agreement to demilitarize the port city of Hudaydah and drew attention to the newly activated joint operations centre as a sign of progress.

Offering the national perspective, Yemen’s representative condemned the drone attacks against the two Saudi Aramco facilities and underscored his country’s solidarity with Riyadh. The 8 August armed putsch in Aden and the southern governorates — waged by the so-called Southern Transitional Council and supported by the United Arab Emirates — underscores the need to engage in negotiations.

He pledged that Yemen will implement the Stockholm Agreement and recalled its flexibility in efforts to save that accord. The Houthi militia, on the other hand, have sought to undermine peace with arms and financing from Tehran. Iran has wreaked havoc in the region and its support for the putsch has placed Yemen in a disastrous situation. Ending the conflict means ending the putsch and returning the hijacked institutions to the State, he assured.

Also speaking today were representatives of Equatorial Guinea, Dominican Republic, Belgium, South Africa, France, Peru, China, Poland, Côte d'Ivoire, Germany and Indonesia.

The meeting began at 10 a.m. and ended at 12:03 p.m.

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