UN envoy: Yemen is being pushed ’to the edge of civil war’

The UN special envoy for Yemen warned an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council on Sunday that events appear to be leading the Arab country “to the edge of civil war” and urged all parties to step back from the brink and resolve the conflict peacefully. Jamal Benomar stressed repeatedly in a video briefing from Qatar that “peaceful dialogue is the only option we have.

” That view was echoed by the Security Council in a presidential statement

The UN special envoy for Yemen warned an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council on Sunday that events appear to be leading the Arab country andquotto the edge of civil warandquot and urged all parties to step back from the brink and resolve the conflict peacefully.

Jamal Benomar stressed repeatedly in a video briefing from Qatar that andquotpeaceful dialogue is the only option we have.

andquot That view was echoed by the Security Council in a presidential statement which reaffirmed the readiness of the UNand#39s most powerful body to take andquotfurther measuresandquot against any party impeding the road to peace in Yemen. That could mean new sanctions, or possibly other actions.

Lithuaniaand#39s UN Ambassador Raimonda Murmokaite said after the closed consultations that all the council members supported a return to negotiations, but she doesnand#39t foresee new sanctions – andquotnot at this stage.andquot Benomar said andquotit would be an illusionandquot to think that Houthi Shiite rebels – who control the capital Sanaa, much of the north, and are moving further south backed by some members of Yemenand#39s armed forces – could succeed in taking control of the entire country.

On Sunday, the Houthis seized Taiz, Yemenand#39s third-largest city.

andquotIt would be equally false,andquot Benomar said, to think that embattled President Abed-Rabbo Mansour Hadi, who fled earlier this month to the southern city of Aden – the countryand#39s economic hub – could assemble sufficient forces andquotto liberate the country from the Houthis.

andquot

He warned that any party that pushes the country in either direction andquotwould be inviting a protracted conflict in the vein of an Iraq, Syria, Libya combined scenario.andquot

Yemenand#39s turmoil and political crisis has deepened since the Houthis seized Sanaa in September and put Hadi under house arrest and eventually dissolved the countryand#39s parliament.

The countryand#39s al-Qaida branch, considered by the United States the terror networkand#39s most dangerous offshoot, has stepped up attacks against the Shiite rebels.

The Houthis newly announced move to take over the entire country follows the suicide bombings of a pair of mosques in Sanaa that killed 137 people which were claimed by the Islamic State group.

It also followed clashes around Adenand#39s airport and planes from Sanaa dropping bombs on the cityand#39s presidential palace which Benomar said fortunately did not injure Hadi, who is strongly supported by the Security Council.

andquotFollowing the suicide bombings and fighting,andquot Benomar warned, andquotemotions are running extremely high, and unless a solution can be found in the coming days the country will slide into further violent conflict and fragmentation.

andquot He said Yemenis believe the situation is andquoton a rapid downward spiral,andquot and are concerned that the conflict andquothas taken on worrying sectarian tones and deepening north-south divisions.andquot

andquotFears exist that Al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula will exploit the current instability to cause further chaos,andquot he said.

The deteriorating situation led US troops to evacuate a southern air base crucial to the drone program targeting al-Qaida militants. Benomar said andquotextremists on many sidesandquot are actively trying to undermine UN-brokered negotiations that he is leading aimed at putting Yemen back on track to complete its transition to democracy so it can finish work on a constitution, hold a referendum on it, and conduct elections.

He stressed that the political impasse can only be unblocked by negotiations that include both the Houthis and Hadi. andquotI urge all sides at this time of rising tensions and rhetoric to de-escalate and exercise maximum restraint, and refrain from provocation,andquot Benomar said.

In the presidential statement approved by all 15 members, the Security Council echoed Benomarand#39s call for all parties to stop fighting, engage in the UN-brokered negotiations and complete the peaceful transition.

The council reiterated its support for Hadiand#39s legitimacy and condemned the Houthisand#39 military campaign.

The statement called on all countries andquotto refrain from external interferenceandquot in Yemenand#39s affairs.

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SOURCE: Today’s Zaman