The UN Security Council approved a resolution yesterday which will extend its sanctions on Yemen for another year. The sanctions were initially set to expire today, including extensions of the mandate of UN experts who monitor the arms embargo imposed in 2015 in addition to asset freezes and travel bans on targeted individuals.
Resolution 2511 was drafted by Britain and supported by the US and other Western states; Russia and China abstained. According to diplomats, Moscow disagreed with any mention of Iran in the text and threatened to use its veto and make a counter-proposal.
France24 reported that during the Security Council negotiations, Britain did indeed omit any mention of Iran, which supports the Houthi-led government based in the Yemeni capital Sanaa. Shortly before the vote, following French and Belgian mediation, the British team also agreed to abandon any reference to weapons possessed by the Houthis and their alleged similarity to Iranian weapons.
Britain and France expressed disappointment at Russia’s veto threat. “If countries are going to engage in negotiations with us in detail and then not support the text,” said British Ambassador Karen Pierce, “then that in my mind is sharp practice.” She warned against threats to use a veto becoming “simply a negotiating tactic”.
US representative Rodney Hunter, meanwhile, accused Iran of smuggling weapons to the Houthi movement for years, thus violating the UN arms embargo on Yemen and one imposed against Iran.
According to Russian Ambassador Vasily Nebenzya, the provisions in the text still “go beyond the objectives of this resolution,” and that none of Russia’s concerns were taken into account by the British. Moscow was presented with “a take-it-or-leave-it approach,” he claimed. “We cannot agree to that kind of approach.”
A recent report from the UN experts who monitor the arms embargo stated that the Houthis had, since last year, been in possession of new weapons, including drones and cruise missiles with “technical characteristics similar to arms” produced in Iran. One paper by a British think-tank highlighted last week that the Houthis have developed and manufactured drones locally using internationally-produced technology. The Houthi-aligned government also unveiled four locally-designed air defence systems on Sunday, two of which were showcased for the first time and are expected to usher in a “new era” of defence in Yemen against the Saudi-led coalition’s aggression in the country.