Monday, April 20, 2015

UN imposes sanctions on Houthis as conflict continues in Yemen


Sanaa - In a sign that the Saudi-led bombing campaign and offensive against Houthi rebels is not going well, the newly minted vice-president appointed by the internationally recognized president Mansour Hadi has urged the Houthi fighters to end their offensive.
Vice-President Khaled Bahah urged the Houthis to end their offensive in the south, particularly in the port city of Aden. He said that this could be a good will gesture that could lead to peace initiatives. He does not mention that Iran has already proposed peace initiatives. Of course Iran has no right to propose peace initiatives. As Abdulrahman al-Rashed, described as a veteran and internationally acclaimed journalist puts it: If the Houthis and deposed president Saleh are serious about a reconciliation, then they know who to turn to - to the Gulf Cooperation Council who represents the regional and familial system that’s closer to Yemen.
Of course the Gulf Cooperation Council is the same group that supports the Saudi-led bombing and offensive against the Houthis, and of which Saudi Arabia is a leading member. With opinions such as this it is clear why al-Rashed has such high status as a journalist.
Bahah is an obvious figure to put forth this apparently conciliatory gesture since he was accepted by the Houthis as a candidate for prime minister back in January during a failed attempt to form a government acceptable to the Houthis. Hadi no doubt realizes he has a very tarnished brand and little support, and is attempting to bolster his legitimacy through appointing Bahah and have him propose this move.No doubt, Hadi learned these types of tricks while he himself was Vice President under former president Saleh. Saleh is now allied with the Houthis but while in power he continually attacked them. Saleh ceded power to Hadi after a deal brokered by that familial system al-Rashed references that gave Saleh and his cronies immunity from crimes committed during the Arab Spring uprisings in which many protesters were killed. As with Hadi, Bahah speaks from the safety of the Saudi capital Ryadh. All this is no doubt done with the approval of the Saudis. The Saudis would be happy if the Houthis withdraw from the south and Aden. The Houthis no doubt might even agree but would surely want action in return such as the cessation of bombing and a ceasefire by militia fighting them while negotiating a government acceptable to each side. Of course none of this will have any effect on the battle of Al Qaeda in the Arab Peninsula(AQAP) and its advance s against the Houthis often allied with local Sunni tribes. Bahah also called on all troops and security force personnel to accept the command of the Hadi government and protect the country.
A perceptive article in the International Institute for Strategic Studies(IISS) notes that there is an irony in Saleh's support for the Houthis since he was their mortal enemy during his own presidency. However, Saleh wants to promote the military and political power of his son in opposition to Hadi and those loyal to him in the armed forces.. There is always the possibility of his changing sides if the right deal were offered to him. The pro-Hadi forces are even weaker it would seem then they appear to be since those fighting the Houthis in the south in many cases are local separatist militias who do not want to be part of a Hadi government either: As the IISS article puts it: " The role of southern militias in restoring Hadi is highly contentious, since they have consistently advocated independence from northern Yemen. This suggests that they are fighting to secure territory to pave the way for secession. This prospect has become increasingly viable since the war united southern factions, while airdrops of weapons may finally give them a military advantage. Southern militias have in fact framed their role as defending south Yemen rather than affirming Hadi’s legitimacy, thus casting doubt over the very notion of Aden as the ‘government’s last stronghold’."
In the video appended below the tank seen at the first is flying not the Yemeni flag but the flag of the southern separatist movement:

The UN has long been a supporter of the "familial system," which also includes the US. The UN Security Council had already imposed sanctions on Saleh and two Houthi leaders way back in November of last year and the other important family member the US dutifully followed suit:"The United States hit Yemen’s former president Ali Abdullah Saleh and two Houthi rebel commanders with sanctions Monday, two days after Saleh walked out on the new government. The US Treasury said it was blacklisting Saleh, Abdullah Yahya al-Hakim and Abd al-Khaliq al-Huthi “for engaging in acts that directly or indirectly threaten the peace, security or stability of Yemen”.The UN Security Council has now imposed an arms embargo on the Houthi rebels and also Saleh and his son. The US again followed suit by imposing sanctions on Saleh and two Houthi leaders once again:"The U.S. Treasury Department named Houthi leader Abdul Malik al-Houthi, and leading backer Ahmed Ali Saleh, son of former president Ali Abdullah Saleh, to its blacklist, freezing any assets they might have on US property and forbidding Americans from dealings with them."These actions indicate that at present the "family" are not really interested in a negotiated solution so much as an imposed solution backed by military force and sanctions. Perhaps the Houthis will give in but this is doubtful unless they are offered more to give up their struggle. No matter what happens, AQAP is gaining considerable ground in the conflict and southern separatists will be in a position to push their demands.
The UN answers to the demands of the family as is shown in the appended video. Jamal Benomar who has worked tirelessly for a political solution was still attempting to do so but this ran afoul of the desires of the family and so he had to resign, to move on to another assignment,.

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