UN Security Council approves deployment of monitors in Yemen

The 15-member body authorised UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to deploy – for an initial 30 days – an advance team to begin monitoring and to support and facilitate the deal between the warring parties.
Saturday 22/12/2018
United Nations Security Council members vote on a resolution about Yemen’s security at UN Headquarters in New York, December 21. (Reuters)
Consolidating the truce. United Nations Security Council members vote on a resolution about Yemen’s security at UN Headquarters in New York, December 21. (Reuters)

LONDON – The United Nations Security Council has unanimously approved the deployment of an advance team to monitor a ceasefire in Yemen’s Red Sea city of Hodeidah after days of wrangling.

Soon after the adoption of resolution 2450, British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt welcomed the unequivocal backing of the final text.

“This resolution is an important step along Yemen’s peace process. The unequivocal backing from the UN Security Council proves without a doubt that the international community fully endorses a political solution to the conflict,” Hunt said.

“We must now focus all our efforts on addressing the urgent humanitarian needs of the people of Yemen and locking-in the historic agreements made by the parties in Stockholm,” he added.

Saudi Arabia also welcomed the unanimous vote and said the resolution confirmed the success of military pressure on Houthis.

The kingdom said the presence of international observers would  prevent the Houthis from obstructing and violating the ceasefire in Hodeidah.

There had been intense negotiations over the past week on the British-drafted resolution, including over whether to condemn Iran for supplying weapons to the Houthis — a statement that the United States wanted and Russia strongly opposed.

In an unusual move, the United States, unhappy with Britain’s efforts, came up with its own version on December 20. It is exceedingly rare for allies to present rival resolutions to the Security Council.

The political coordinator of the US mission to the UN, Rodney Hunter, expressed to the Security Council his country’s regret that the new UN resolution on Yemen did not hold Iran accountable for its actions in the war-torn country.

“We hope that in the days to come Iranian missiles or misdeeds do not shatter the promise of peace and bring us back to where we were before. But if that does happen, this council may come to regret this omission,” Hunter told the Security Council after the vote.

The UN-brokered talks between Yemen’s internationally recognised government and the rebels concluded December 13 with an agreement to the truce in Hodeidah, which diplomats pushed for to allow aid to reach the country. It is under threat of famine. The truce began on December 18.

The second phase of the agreement includes handing ports over to the United Nations and a third will see both sides withdraw from the Hodeidah and its surroundings.

The 15-member Security Council authorised UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to deploy – for an initial 30 days – an advance team to begin monitoring and to support and facilitate the deal between the warring parties.

It also asked Guterres to submit proposals by the end of the month on substantive monitoring operations for the ceasefire and mutual redeployment of forces, support for the management of and inspections at the ports of Hodeidah, Salif and Ras Issa and strengthening of the UN presence in the Hodeidah region.

Guterres is required to report weekly to the Security Council on the implementation of the resolution, which endorses the ceasefire deal agreed in Sweden.

More than 80% of Yemen’s imports used to come through Hodeidah port, but that has slowed to a trickle.

The ultimately adopted resolution “calls on the Government of Yemen and the Houthis to remove bureaucratic impediments to flows of commercial and humanitarian supplies, including fuel, and on the parties to ensure effective and sustained functioning of all of Yemen’s ports.”

The United States had also wanted to condemn Iran for breaching an arms embargo on Yemen, but Russia objected, diplomats said. Iran has repeatedly denied accusations that it has supplied weapons to Houthis.

In late November, the United States displayed pieces of what it said were Iranian weapons deployed to militants in Yemen and Afghanistan. The Pentagon offered a detailed explanation of why it believed the arms on display were from Iran, noting what it said were Iranian corporate logos on arms fragments and the unique nature of the designs of Iranian weaponry.

The United States acknowledged it could not say precisely when the weapons were transferred to the Houthis, and, in some cases, could not say when they were used.

A Saudi-led military coalition intervened in Yemen in 2015 to back forces supporting the internationally recognised government.

The conflict has pushed impoverished Yemen to the verge of famine and millions of people rely on food aid. More than 80% of Yemen’s imports used to arrive at Hodeidah port but cargo transfers have slowed to a trickle because of the fighting.