The UN Security Council has betrayed the people of Yemen

The UNSC demonized and sanctioned the emerging revolutionary government while consistently backing a Gulf Cooperation Council (read: Saudi) ‘initiative’ to defend a Saudi puppet.

The appalling war on Yemen, leading to what has been called the world’s ‘worst humanitarian crisis’ has been promoted, rather than resolved, by the United Nations Security Council (UNSC).

Set up with the supposed primary purpose of preventing war, the UNSC over the past decade has effectively and repeatedly backed the US-Saudi-led military repression of the only genuine revolution arising from the so-called ‘Arab Spring’.

Washington got its way from the beginning, as destroying the Ansarallah-led revolutionary coalition which came to power over 2014-2015 was part of its broader aim to remove all independent regimes and create a ‘New Middle East’ under US tutelage.

The Pentagon delegated the task of destroying the new Ansarallah-led Yemeni coalition (often called disparagingly ‘the Houthis’) to the Saudis and then got the UNSC to rubber stamp Saudi attacks on those parts of central Yemen (including the capital) controlled by the new government.

The repression was carried out under Chapter VII powers of the UN Charter and in the name of fighting Al-Qaeda terrorism and defeating a supposed threat to ‘international peace and security’.

In fact, it has involved direct UN intervention in the sovereign affairs of the Yemeni people, while siding with the Saudis, key sponsor of all the regional Al-Qaeda groups.

recent study by the Yemen Centre for Human Rights exposes the links between the systematic violence imposed on the Yemeni people and successive UNSC resolutions from 2011 to 2021.

In summary, the UNSC sought to defend an interim regime that arose during the democracy struggles between 2011 and 2015. It then demonized and sanctioned the emerging revolutionary government while consistently backing a Gulf Cooperation Council (read: Saudi) ‘initiative’ to defend a Saudi puppet.

We might understand the involvement of three of the five permanent members of the UNSC (NATO members USA, UK, and France), as they have initiated at least eight wars against the independent states and peoples of the region, but what of Russia and China?

Those two counter-weights in 2011 backed the use of Chapter VII powers against Libya but, when NATO abused the ‘no-fly zone’ pretext to destroy the little African country, they seemed to have learned a lesson. Russia and China opposed a similar proposal against Syria the following year, in 2012.

So what was different about Yemen in 2014? Syria was a recognized state under NATO attack, whereas Yemen was a society undergoing a genuine revolutionary transition. As with Libya, Russia and China were simply not paying attention. Only in April 2015 did Russia abstain from the sixth UNSC resolution (2216), which enhanced sanctions against certain parties in Yemen.

That abstention was too little, too late. The Yemen Centre for Human Rights study shows that UNSC resolutions #2014 of 2011 and #2051 of 2012 “paved the way” for misleading the international community, by claiming that the upheaval in Yemen was a “threat to international peace and security”. That broader threat was the means to later (in Resolution #2140 of February 2014) invoke Chapter VII coercive powers.

In successive resolutions (2014, 2051, 2140, 2201, 2204, 2216, and even 2564 of 2021) this alleged “threat to international peace and security” was linked to citations of Al-Qaeda groups in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), gangs notoriously backed by the Saudis and some other GCC members. Even US sources recognize that al-Qaeda and ISIS in Yemen oppose the Ansarallah-led Coalition.

In other words, properly understood, any wider threat to peace from international terrorism clearly did not come from the new Yemeni revolutionary government, but from what the Yemenis call the UNSC backed ‘coalition of aggression’.

The Yemen Centre for Human Rights says resolution 2216 of April 2015 “shocked the world” by turning “a blind eye” to the atrocities committed by the US-Saudi coalition. From 2014 the UNSC maintained the fiction that Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi, who had been an interim president in 2012, remained the legitimate president of the country.

On the other hand, those in Yemen’s National Salvation Government (under Resolution 2216 of April 2015) were sanctioned and subject to travel bans and arms embargoes, for supposedly engaging in “acts that threaten the peace security or stability of Yemen”.

In successive resolutions (2014, 2140, 2201, 2216, and 2564) the UNSC promoted an ‘initiative’ by the Saudi dominated Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) and its linked (and now defunct) ‘National Dialogue Conference’ while paying lip service to ‘all parties’ in Yemen.

Never mind what the Yemeni people had said or done since 2012. Never mind that from early 2015 Hadi was in exile and subsequent house arrest in Saudi Arabia. The extreme partisanship by the UNSC sought to freeze Yemen’s political processes in time.

Yet even the western media recognized that UN backing of the war was futile and disastrous, with a 2016 Time magazine headline saying: ‘The UN failed Yemen’s Children’.

No UN agency could function properly under this hopeless, interventionist regime. The UN’s Human Rights Council wrung its hands, crying “we have failed Yemen”, while impotently trying to blame ‘both sides’ for violations.

The New York Times, which had backed every US-led war in the region for decades, also resorted to moral equivalence arguments, claiming that war crimes were committed by “both sides”. But where were the UN Charter principles of sovereignty and non-intervention?

In late 2021, UN Special Envoy Hans Grundberg filed a near useless report, speaking of his “frustration and despair” and urging an end to the fighting.

The defeat of Saudi-led forces in Yemen, quietly backed by Washington, had become obvious by 2017, even though The New York Times kept complaining that this was all the fault of “the rebels”.

With several years of defeat and humanitarian crisis, the UNSC has been left ‘carrying the can’ for this failed war and still seeks to back a ‘government’ with an exiled ‘President’ who has barely seen Yemeni soil at any time over the past seven years.

This is a great betrayal of the Yemeni people on the part of the UN Security Council.

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