Head of UN monitoring mission in Yemen resigns

Al Arabiya reported that the Houthi militia had fired “directly” on a convoy carrying Cammaert after he met with representatives of the Yemeni government.
Sunday 27/01/2019
© Yaser Ahmed for The Arab Weekly
© Yaser Ahmed for The Arab Weekly

ADEN - The UN official tasked with monitoring the ceasefire in Hodeidah, Yemen, abruptly resigned and is expected to be replaced by a Danish major-general with UN peacekeeping experience.

UN Special Envoy to Yemen Martin Griffiths confirmed the resignation of retired Dutch General Patrick Cammaert, who arrived with a team of UN monitors in Hodeidah in late December to observe the ceasefire between the Iran-allied Houthi rebels and Saudi-backed Yemeni government forces.

Reuters quoted diplomatic sources as saying that the United Nations plans to replace Cammaert with Danish Major-General Michael Anker Lollesgaard, who led a UN peacekeeping mission in Mali in 2015-16.

Al-Masdar News reported that Griffiths was asked January 24 during a meeting with political leaders at the Yemeni Embassy in Riyadh whether differences in opinion between Cammaert and Griffiths might have led to the retired general stepping down. Griffiths said Cammaert’s mission had “come to an end with the establishment of the [ceasefire observation] team.”

Sources close to the Houthi militia said leaders of the group and Cammaert clashed over several issues and described him as less accommodating than previous UN representatives.

Pro-Houthi Al-Masirah television said Secretary-General of the Houthi Political Bureau Fadl Abu Taleb complained to Griffiths about Cammaert’s alleged bias and what he called a lack of responsiveness by the Saudi-led coalition that would “impede the agreements on Hodeidah and prisoners.”

Saudi-owned Al Arabiya reported that the Houthi militia had fired “directly” on a convoy carrying Cammaert after he met with representatives of the Yemeni government.

As the UN reshuffled its ranks, the coalition fighting in support of the internationally recognised Yemeni government alleged that recent attacks by the rebels utilised Iranian drones and military techniques.

Coalition spokesman Turki al-Malki said the Houthi drone attack on the Yemeni government’s Al Anad Airbase January 10 “used plans and methods” of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. Malki also said the Houthis were in possession of Iranian Ababil-T drones.

The airbase strike resulted in death of several people, including Yemen’s chief of military intelligence, Major-General Mohammed Saleh Tammah.

The United Arab Emirates, the Saudis’ main partner in the coalition, called for an end to Iran’s interference in the Middle East, pointing to situations in Yemen and Syria as examples of Tehran creating instability in the region.

“The conflicts in Yemen and Syria clearly show that Iran is the common perpetrator. Iran has created more tension and instability in our region, posing a serious threat to the stability of the Middle East,” Saud al-Shamsi, UAE Deputy Permanent Representative to the United Nations, told the UN Security Council.

“We, therefore, call on the international community and the Security Council to seriously pressure Iran to end its interference and support for terrorist and sectarian militias in Arab countries.”

Shamsi reiterated the UAE’s commitment to the UN diplomatic efforts but noted that, while the coalition has proven its commitment to the ceasefire in Hodeidah, the Houthis repeatedly violated the agreement.

“These transgressions include heinous crimes against the Yemeni people, threats to the security and stability of neighbouring states and international navigation and looting of humanitarian aid,” he said.