UN Chief: Iranian Weapons Proliferation Under Investigation

Numbers mark features that supposedly identify Iranian Qiam-class ballistic missile remnants on display at Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling in Washington, D.C., Dec. 12, 2017 .

Dec. 15, 2017 – Antonio Guterres has reported to the Security Council that the UN is examining evidence that Iran has transferred ballistic missiles to Houthi rebels in Yemen in violation of Security Council resolutions.

Saudi authorities claim a missile fired at Riyadh airport last month was of Iranian origin, a claim backed by the United States, whose ambassador, Nikki Haley, presented evidence at a military base in Washington DC on Dec. 12 of what she says is confirmation of Iranian weapons proliferation.

In his report, Guterres says that markings found on remnants of missiles fired into Saudi Arabia by Houthis bore similarities to a logo used by a sanctioned Iranian industrial company.

His full report is here.

How UN Negotiations on Yemen Exclude the South and Why That Must Change

Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed, the UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Yemen, briefs the Security Council

 

May 31, 2017 – The article below begins with an introduction from Nadwa al-Dawsari, an independent consultant and researcher, who contextualizes the Southern Question in Yemen’s current crisis. It is followed by an article from Ahmed Omer Ben Fareed, a prominent voice in the Southern movement, explaining the importance of addressing the Southern Question in UN negotiations aimed at resolving the Yemen conflict, which began in 2014:


In mid-March 2015, when former President Ali Abdullah Saleh and Houthi forces pushed into Aden and wreaked havoc on its infrastructure and homes, it wasn’t the first time the city, once the capital of South Yemen, was invaded by Northern forces. Aden, which became the temporary capital of Yemen after President Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi was forced out of Sanaa’ by Houthi forces in 2015, was first invaded in 1994 when Saleh, then president, and his Northern allies mobilized forces under the banner “unity or death” to prevent a secession attempt by Southern leaders. 

Four years earlier, in 1990, South Yemen had voluntarily unified with North Yemen. The unification was done hastily and the countries’ two militaries were never integrated. With only 20% of the population, South Yemen soon lost much of its political power to the Northern elite. Tensions built up and civil war broke out in April 1994. By July of that year, Saleh’s force had invaded and wrested full control of Aden, defeating the Southern resistance.

In 2007, the Southern Movement, known as Hirak, started organizing peaceful protests demanding reforms. As protests were met with excessive force and Southerners lost hope in being treated equally, their demands escalated to calls for secession. 

As Saleh entered Aden under vastly different circumstances in 2015, many civilians picked up arms and fought back, pushing Houthi forces out of the South and creating a new reality — one that the international community has chosen to overlook.

The entire South is currently controlled by Southerners and they plan to determine their own fate this time around. In the article below, Ahmed Omer Ben Fareed, a prominent Southern Hirak leader, who was jailed, tortured, and forced into exile by the Saleh regime in 2009, explains why it is imperative the South’s demands are addressed in any future plans for Yemen. The text has been translated from the original Arabic.

***

Through its two special envoys to Yemen, Jamal Benomar, who served between 2011 and 2015, and Ismail Ould Chiekh Ahmed, who took over for Benomar, the United Nations, which has been leading efforts to resolve the current Yemeni crisis, continues to completely ignore one very critical element of the conflict: the Southern issue. The UN’s failure to effectively recognize the genuine grievances and fair demands of the Southern Movement (Hirak) will hamper its efforts to resolve the civil war, which recently marked its second year.

Ever since unification with the North, Southerners have felt marginalized and disadvantaged by the central government. The Southern issue, as it stands today, represents the rights and legitimate political, economic, and social demands of Southerners to reclaim their State.

Southern factions have expressed their belief in dialogue as a means to resolve political differences, no matter how difficult or complex these divergences may be. We have made clear our willingness to enter negotiations with Northerners under the auspices of regional and international bodies, in order to find a permanent solution to the Southern issue, provided these negotiations occur without pre-imposed conditions.

But UN-supported processes, including the National Dialogue Conference (NDC), a transitional dialogue held in Sana’a from March 2013 to January 2014 following Saleh’s forced resignation as president, have all been designed to marginalize Southerners, or at least to refrain from recognizing them as equal to Northerners.

The NDC’s decision-making mechanism was, for example, developed in a way that would leave Southerners at a disadvantage. As a result, during the NDC process, protests in the South only increased, as millions of Southerners rallied in Aden to demand secession. The vast majority of Southern political forces determined that these conditions made negotiations unworkable, and, so, most Southern factions officially refused to participate in the NDC.

The one faction that did participate, eventually withdrew. Trying to prevent a total Southern withdrawal, Benomar and the NDC approached a few members of this faction and convinced them to participate; these few individuals were, then, treated as representatives of the entire South, a move that contradicted the basic principles of dialogue and disrespected the will of the people of the South.

After the Saudi-led coalition pushed the Houthis and Saleh out of the South in July 2015, UN peace talks were mainly held between two parties, President Hadi’s government and the Saleh/Houthis coalition. Southerners remained excluded from the negotiations, even though they controlled the area of the former state of South Yemen. An important fact many do not understand is that when Southerners fought during the current war against pro-Saleh forces and the Houthi rebels, they fought under the South Yemen flag and not to support Hadi’s government.

The parties currently represented in UN talks have no control or influence over any part of the South. In his speech at the opening ceremony for the recent round of peace negotiations in Kuwait, UN envoy Ould Chiekh Ahmed mentioned the Southern issue as one that had to be resolved with participation from Southern leaders. Yet, the talks continued without any Southern leaders invited to participate.

Most recently, on May 4, 2017, a exiled President Hadi dismissed the governor of Aden, popular Hirak leader Aidarous al-Zubaidi, from his post, creating backlash and leading to mass demonstrations protesting his removal and calling for secession. A week later, on May 11, al-Zubaidi announced the formation of a transitional political council to govern South Yemen.

Even before this incident, various Southern parties had repeatedly made clear they would not accept any negotiated agreement they did not participate in and will not allow any other party to control their land. Southerners are keen to engage in the current negotiations, but, in order for that to happen, the UN must provide conditions for their participation.

This article was originally published in Muftah and has been republished here with permission. Copyright Muftah.org 

Latest Panel of Experts Report on Yemen

Screenshot 2017-02-23 at 4.02.17 PM Feb. 23, 2017 – The latest UN Security Council panel of experts report on Yemen states that the Houthi-Saleh alliance is one of convenience and unlikely to last. It also states that the massive air bombardment by Saudi Arabia and its allies has not made a significant impact in dislodging the Houthi-Saleh military alliance holding sway over much of the country. Further, the report states that the panel are investigating the laundering of $84 million in Saleh family funds to a company named Raydan investments over a three-week period in Dec. 2014. A previous report by the panel stated that Saleh was worth $60 billion, amassing $2 billion a year during his 30-year reign of corruption. Earlier this month, the United Nations appealed for $2.1 billion to stave off famine and address the dire humanitarian situation in the country. Only three countries have maintained a diplomatic presence in the capital Saana: Iran, Syria and Russia.

Full report: Panel of Experts Yemen Jan 31 2017

UN Report: UAE, Saudi Using Eritrean Land, Sea, Airspace and, Possibly, Eritrean Troops in Yemen Battle

Bab al-Mandab strait separates the Arabian Peninsula from the Horn of Africa and links the Red Sea to the Gulf of Aden and the Indian Ocean

Bab-el-Mandab strait separates the Arabian Peninsula from the Horn of Africa and links the Red Sea to the Gulf of Aden and the Indian Ocean (credit: UN SEMG)

Nov. 2, 2015 – The United Arab Emirates has leased a key Eritrean port for 30 years and along with its Gulf ally, Saudi Arabia, has established a military presence in Eritrea in return for monetary compensation and fuel supplies.

United Nations investigators have also received reports that 400 Eritrean troops are embedded with UAE forces battling Houthi rebels in Yemen. If confirmed, this would violate UN Security Council sanctions imposed against Eritrea.

The information is contained in the latest report of the UN Group of Experts monitoring sanctions against Somalia and Eritrea. They state that the military arrangement between the Gulf coalition and Eritrea was likely established in March or April this year.

The report, released late last week, says the Gulf alliance’s arrangement with Eritrea, which is located across the Red Sea from Yemen and at its narrowest point is just 29 kilometers from Yemen, came about after Djibouti rebuffed an approach by Saudi and UAE to use its soil in their military campaign against Houthi expansion in Yemen.

Saudi Arabia's King Salman hosted Eritrea's President saias Afwerki on April 28, 2015 (credit: Saudi Press Agency)

Saudi Arabia’s King Salman hosted Eritrea’s President Isaias Afwerki on April 28, 2015 (credit: Saudi Press Agency)

As part of the arrangement, Eritrea has allowed the Gulf alliance to use the Hanish islands and has leased the Port of Assab to the UAE for 30 years. The Bab-el-Mandeb strait between Yemen and Eritrea is a key route for Gulf oil shipments with an estimated 3.8 million barrels passing through on tankers daily.

The group of experts write that “Eritrea’s making available to third countries its land, territorial waters and airspace to conduct military operations in another country does not in and of itself constitute a violation of resolution 1907 (2009)” but “any compensation diverted directly or indirectly towards activities that threaten peace and security in the region or for the benefit of the Eritrean military would constitute a violation of” the resolution.

“Moreover, if the credible claims received by the Monitoring Group that Eritrean soldiers are indeed participating in the war effort under the leadership of the Arab coalition were confirmed, it would constitute a clear violation of resolution 1907 (2009),” the report states.

Saudi Arabia and the UAE are not the only Gulf countries with a military presence in Eritrea. Qatar has 200 troops located on the country’s border with Djibouti. Doha is involved in mediating disputes between the two countries.

For its part, the Government of Eritrea has called on the Security Council to lift the arms embargo against it saying Eritrea’s strategic location makes it a target for extremists.

– Denis Fitzgerald
@denisfitz

Related Stories:

A Ceasefire or Humanitarian Pause: What’s Happening in Yemen?

UN Yemen Appeal Only 15 percent Funded

Yemen’s Saleh Worth $60 Billion Says UN Sanctions Committee

Djibouti – The UN’s Forgotten Crisis

Related Documents:

Report of the Monitoring Group on Somalia and Eritrea, October 2015

UN Commission of Inquiry Report on the Human Rights Situation in Eritrea

Security Council Resolution 1907 (2009)

A Ceasefire or Humanitarian Pause: What’s Happening in Yemen?

Airstrike in Sana'a photo: Ibrahem Qasim - Licensed by Creative Commons

Airstrike in Sana’a photo: Ibrahem Qasim – Licensed by Creative Commons

July 25, 2015 – Media reported on Saturday that a five-day ceasefire (Reuters) or humanitarian ceasefire (CNN) was to take hold in Yemen beginning on Sunday between the Saudi-led coalition and Houthi rebels.

The source of the news was a Saudi Press Agency (SPA) report announcing a “humanitarian truce.”

So which is it?

It seems certain from the SPA report that what is planned is not a ceasefire, which would mean both sides have agreed to a longterm cessation of violence in conjunction with a political process to resolve the conflict.

Instead, it appears that the announced five day cessation of hostilities is a humanitarian pause, such as what was planned for earlier this month but which never took hold, and its sole purpose to allow in desperately needed aid supplies.

Here is a useful glossary from UN OCHA on pauses during conflict.
AccessMechanismsWhile the news of a pause to allow the delivery of aid is welcome, and absolutely vital, it seems like none of the parties is committed to a political process to resolve the conflict, and the UN appears unable to negotiate one.

– Denis Fitzgerald
On Twitter @denisfitz

Related Stories:

UN Yemen Appeal Only 15 Percent Funded

Yemen’s Saleh Worth $60 Billion Says UN Sanctions Committee

UN Yemen Aid Appeal Only 15 Percent Funded

Airstrike in Sana'a photo: Ibrahem Qasim - Licensed by Creative Commons

Airstrike in Sana’a, May 2015 – photo: Ibrahem Qasim – Licensed by Creative Commons

July 14, 2015 –  Gulf countries are conspicuous by their absence on the list of donors to the UN’s $1.6 billion humanitarian appeal for Yemen where more than 80 percent of the population are in need of assistance.

The United Arab Emirates is the sole donor among the six countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), having committed $18 million towards the $284 million received so far, according to information from the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian affairs.

More than 3,200 people have been killed and some 16,000 more injured since a Saudi Arabia-led mission to restore the former Yemeni government began in March after an offensive by Houthi rebels and forces loyal to former president Saleh.

The government in Riyadh has pledged $244 million to the UN appeal but has not delivered the funds. Similarly, Kuwait has pledged $100 million but has also not yet committed.

Oman, Qatar and Bahrain have neither pledged nor committed funds to the appeal. With the exception of Oman, all members of the GCC reportedly have fighter jets taking part in the Saudi-led mission while the United States is providing intelligence and logistical support and has speeded up the sale of arms to the coalition.

Also not among the donors to the UN appeal is Iran. A UN Security Council sanctions committee report last month stated that an Iranian vessel delivered 180 tonnes of weapons in March to a Yemen port under Houthi control.

The US is the top donor to the appeal, having committed $75 million, or 26 percent of the funding received to date.

The UN last week declared the situation inside Yemen a Level 3 humanitarian crisis, the highest level. Only three other humanitarian crisis are designated L3 – Iraq, South Sudan and Syria.

More than 3,500 schools have been closed in Yemen and almost 2 million children are out of school, according to the latest humanitarian situation report from OCHA.

An outbreak of dengue fever has reached six governorates and the UN says it needs to preposition cholera kits ahead of an expected outbreak.

There are increasing cases of measles and rubella and a high risk of a polio outbreak, according to OCHA. At least 160 health facilities are affected by a lack of power and shortages of medicines, IV fluids and surgical supplies.

A delivery of 10,000 doses of Oxytocin has been made to the Ministry of Health to assist women in labor, OCHA says.

A humanitarian pause that was due to take hold over the weekend never materialized.

The full list of donors to the UN appeal for Yemen is below.

– Denis Fitzgerald
On Twitter @denisfitz

Yemen aid appeal

Yemen’s Saleh Worth $60 Billion Says UN Sanctions Panel



Feb. 24, 2015 – The corrupt practices of Yemen’s former autocratic leader, Ali Abdullah Saleh, have netted the strongman up to $60 billion, a UN sanctions panel will report to the Security Council on Tuesday.

The panel’s report says Saleh amassed up to $2 billion a year from 1978 until he was forced to step down in 2012 and that the assets are hidden in at least twenty countries with the help of business associates and front companies.

“The origin of the funds used to generate Ali Abdullah Saleh’s wealth is believed to be partly from his corrupt practices as President of Yemen, particularly relating to gas and oil contracts where he reportedly asked for money in exchange for granting companies exclusive rights to prospect for gas and oil in Yemen,” the report says.

“It is also alleged that Ali Abdullah Saleh, his friends, his family and his associates stole money from the fuel subsidy program, which uses up to 10 per cent of Yemen’s gross domestic product, as well as other ventures involving abuse of power, extortion and embezzlement,” the report adds.

“The result of these illegal activities for private gain is estimated to have amounted to nearly $2 billion a year over the last three decades,” it states.

The report was prepared by a panel of experts appointed by the Council to monitor the asset freezes and travel bans placed on Saleh and other spoilers of Yemen’s political transition last February. The Council is expected to renew those sanctions on Tuesday for another year.

So far, Saleh has evaded the measures with the help “of at least five prominent Yemeni businessmen… assisting the Saleh family to remove funds from banks in Yemen and deposit them overseas.”

“The panel is also conducting investigations into a number of private and publicly listed companies inside and outside Yemen, where it is believed that former President Saleh may be the beneficial owner of investments,” the report says.

It adds that the panel “has received information from a confidential source that Ali Abdullah Saleh has a number of alternative identity passports that have been provided to him by another State” which would further enable him to hide assets under false identities.

The panel’s estimated wealth of Saleh at $60 billion would place him fifth in Forbe’s list of the world’s richest people. Yemen’s GDP for 2014 was estimated at $35 billion by the World Bank.

Saleh stepped down in 2012 in a deal that granted him immunity from prosecution and allowed him stay in the country. The transitional government that succeeded him, headed by Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi, was toppled last month with Saleh accused by some of using his wealth and connections to play a part in this.

The 54-page report from the panel also says that Houthi rebels, who are now in control in Sanaa, are using child soldiers and that hospitals and schools have been used by warring factions.

Yemen is one of the poorest countries in the world, ranked 154th out of 187 in the UN’s Human Development Index and ranked worst in the world for gender equality. More than half the population are living below the poverty line, according to World Bank figures.

Yemen lost its vote in the UN General Assembly last month because of the country’s inability to pay its dues.

Denis Fitzgerald
On Twitter @denisfitz

Image: Wikimedia

UN Panel Of Experts Report on Security Council Sanctions Yemen

Rwanda and Yemen Among Eight Countries to Lose UNGA Voting Rights

60th plenary meeting of the General Assembly 66th session:
Jan. 26, 2015 – Rwanda and Yemen are among eight countries to have their General Assembly voting rights suspended over non-payment of dues.

These countries have fallen foul of Article 19 of the UN Charter, which states that countries will lose their UNGA vote if their “arrears equals or exceeds the amount of the contributions due from it for the preceding two full years.”

Rwanda completed a two-year stint on the Security Council on Dec. 31, 2014. It is the fifth biggest troop contributor to UN peacekeeping operations.

Minimum payments of $69,948 from Yemen and $7,636 from Rwanda are required to get their voting privileges back, according to a letter from Ban Ki-moon to the president of the General Assembly. Liberia is also listed in Ban’s letter but he has since informed the GA that Monrovia has made the necessary payment.

Macedonia is also among the countries currently without a General Assembly vote. It will have to make a minimum payment of $24,606.

In total, 12 countries are not in compliance with Article 19, but four of those, including Guinea-Bissau and Somalia, can still vote as the GA decided that inability to pay is beyond their control.

The eight countries currently without a vote in the General Assembly:

1. Yemen
2. Grenada
3. Kyrgyzstan
4. Marshall Islands
5. Rwanda
6. The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia
7. Tonga
8. Vanuatu

Rwanda has been assessed dues of $54, 271 for 2015 while Yemen’s dues are $271,357 for the year.

UPDATE Jan. 28: Following publication of this story, Rwanda has since made the necessary payment to restore its UNGA vote, a representative of the committee on contributions has informed UN Tribune.

– Denis Fitzgerald
On Twitter @denisfitz

Image/UN Photo

UNICEF: Children in Yemen Forced Into Marriage, Labor and Conflict

225px-Flag_of_Yemen.svg
June 18, 2014 – Attacks against schools and hospitals are among the grave violations committed against children in Yemen, according to the UN Children’s Agency in its 2014 report on the Arab world’s poorest country.

“One particular form of such grave acts is the forced marriage of girls, which is reported to have affected up to 100 girls in Abyan alone during 2012, involving leaders or members of Ansar Al-Sharia,” says the report, which was released on Tuesday. Ansar Al-Sharia is another name given to Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.

The UN team in Yemen verified cases of girls as young as 13 being forced into marriage and a case of two girls offered as ‘gifts’ by their brothers who had been allowed to join armed groups. It says the majority of girls forced into marriage soon become pregnant.

“In all of the verified cases the girls reported being abandoned along with their children when their husbands fled from Abyan as government forces regained control.”

Recruitment of children by armed groups, including the government, is continuing, the report says, with 69 verified cases of boys between the ages of 10-17 recruited to fight in armed conflict last year.

Yemen also has the highest rate of child labor in the MENA region at 23 percent, double that of the next highest country, Iraq, and also the only MENA country where the proportion of girls in child labor exceeds that of boys.

There were 18 attacks on hospitals and 242 attacks on schools in Yemen last year, the report says. “Attacks on schools are a deliberate targeting of children:  their safety, their right to an education and their essential development.”

More than 100 of the schools were destroyed by shelling while other schools have been occupied by armed groups.

One bright spot appears to be a gain in gender parity in primary education with 8 girls enrolled for every ten boys, but the report cautions that the rate of boys dropping out of school is also increasing “and thus gender parity rates in enrollment may not reflect actual gains for girls education in
Yemen.”

The full report is here.

– Denis Fitzgerald
On Twitter @denisfitz

Sudan and Yemen Among Nine Countries to Lose UNGA Voting Rights

60th plenary meeting of the General Assembly 66th session:
Feb. 20, 2014 – The UN General Assembly has suspended the voting rights of nine member states over non-payment of dues.

Among the nine who have fallen foul of Article 19 of the UN Charter are Sudan and Yemen.

Article 19 declares that:

A Member of the United Nations which is in arrears in the payment of its financial contributions to the Organization shall have no vote in the General Assembly if the amount of its arrears equals or exceeds the amount of the contributions due from it for the preceding two full years.

A minimum payment of $111,300 is required from Sudan to get its voting privileges back, according to a letter from Ban Ki-moon to the president of the General Assembly, while Yemen owes $34,525.

In total, 14 countries are not in compliance with Article 19, but five of those, including the Central African Republic and Somalia, can still vote as the GA decided that inability to pay is beyond their control.

A list of the countries in arrears under Article 19 is here. The list, last updated on the UN’s website on Feb. 14, is accurate as of Feb. 20, according to a representative from the Committee on Contributions.

– Denis Fitzgerald
On Twitter @denisfitz

Image: UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe