US pushes for UN condemnation of Iran over Yemen

The United States wants to specifically condemn Iran but Russia objected to the language.
Thursday 20/12/2018
A television cameraman photographs debris of Houthi missiles at a military base in Washington. (Reuters)
Made in Iran. A television cameraman photographs debris of Houthi missiles at a military base in Washington. (Reuters)

LONDON – The United States is pushing for international condemnation of Tehran by the UN Security Council through a draft resolution supporting a ceasefire agreement in Yemen’s Hodeidah region. Russia has rejected the move.

After UN-sponsored peace talks in Sweden, the Iran-backed Houthis and Yemen’s government agreed on December 13 to stop fighting in the port city of Hodeidah and withdraw forces. The truce began December 17.

The Security Council is considering a UK-drafted resolution to endorse the deal and ask UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to submit proposals on how to monitor the ceasefire and redeployment of forces, UN officials said.

The draft text condemns “the supply, from whatever source, of weapons and associated material in contravention of the arms embargo provisions” but does not name any countries.

The United States wants to specifically condemn Iran, the text of the draft resolution indicated, but Russia objected to the language.

In February, Russia vetoed a US-led attempt to have the Security Council call out Tehran in a resolution on Yemen. A resolution needs nine votes in favour and no vetoes by Russia, China, the United States, France or the United Kingdom to pass.

Guterres told the Security Council that debris missiles fired by the Houthis at Saudi Arabia indicated the weapons were Iranian. Iran denies supplying weapons to the Houthis.

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

In late November, the US 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.

The draft resolution proposes that the Security Council deploy of international observers to Hodeidah, at the request of the secretary-general, before the end of the month.

It also noted calls for “unhindered flows of commercial and humanitarian goods” and an appeal for the Yemeni government to “inject faster foreign currency into the country’s economy.”

UN officials said some countries wanted the draft resolution on Yemen to be focused on the ceasefire reached in Sweden and for language addressing the Yemeni humanitarian crisis to be removed.

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.

Kuwaiti Ambassador to the United Nations Mansour al-Otaibi, speaking at a news conference December 19 in New York, said Security Council members were working on the draft resolution and “some concerns have not been met.”

He pointed out that Kuwait and another country “broke the silence on the draft resolution of Yemen,” in a muted reference to Russia.

“Breaking the silence” is a special procedure in the Security Council so that the draft resolution is distributed to representatives of 15 members and a date set for its issuance.

If the deadline is met without objections from Security Council members, the resolution would be deemed issued on behalf of the council.