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Speaking of meaningless statements, I 'condemn' the Security Council's pro-Saudi one on Yemen

A smoke plume rises following an explosion as forces loyal to Yemen's Saudi-backed government clash with Houthi fighters around the strategic government-held "Mas Camp" military base, in al-Jadaan, Yemen, on November 22, 2020 [-/AFP via Getty Images]
A smoke plume rises following an explosion as forces loyal to Yemen's Saudi-backed government clash with Houthi fighters around the strategic government-held "Mas Camp" military base, in al-Jadaan, Yemen, on November 22, 2020 [-/AFP via Getty Images]

The latest UN Security Council's (UNSC) statement on the situation in Yemen was released on Wednesday amid continued fighting between the Houthi-allied army and the Saudi-backed militia fighting on behalf of the Riyadh-based Yemeni government over the strategic city of Marib – the only pro-government stronghold in the densely-populous north of the country.

Unfortunately, the UNSC's statement was filled with the usual tropes and partiality which not only obscures the public's understanding of the conflict but also makes any solution to it ever elusive.

In line with the outdated mainstream media's narrative of the seven-year conflict in Yemen as one between the so-called legitimate government of Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi and Iranian-backed "Houthi rebels" (despite the fact that the latter form an integral part of the de-facto National Salvation Government (NSG) based in the capital Sanaa), the UNSCS's rotating President for this month, Martin Kimani of Kenya stated that the Council "condemned the Houthi cross-border attacks against Saudi Arabia".

Kimani also called for "an immediate end to the Houthi escalation in Marib" and an immediate nationwide ceasefire. I find this latest communication by the Council to be problematic as it fails to recognise or acknowledge which party is the actual aggressor here, the disproportionate use of violence, the political and military reality on the ground in Yemen and the fact that the coalition's war crimes have contributed to the country's humanitarian catastrophe, including the grim milestone of at least 10,000 children who have been killed or injured in the conflict . Crucially, the urgent lifting of the Saudi-imposed blockade on Sanaa International Airport or Al-Hudaydah Port were not worth mentioning, both of which have exacerbated the dire situation faced by Yemeni civilians.

Read: UNSC condemns Houthi cross-border raids against Saudi, calls for ceasefire

There has been no context given as to why these cross-border raids into Saudi (and historic Yemeni) territory are taking place nor is there any emphasis placed on the fact that the Yemeni military, the bulk of which is allied with the Houthi movement, has the right to protect and defend the nation's sovereignty.

As such, the UNSC's statement is as effective and meaningful as my condemnation of the Council over their one-sided stance and subjectivity in the sense that neither will have any impact what-so-ever on the daily acts of aggression by the Saudi-led coalition, which has tacit backing by the US and a near uninterrupted supply of Western arms. The only way it will end is until Riyadh and its allies lose the political will to continue its campaign to overthrow the NSG and supplant it with another puppet government, as has been the status-quo of modern Yemen. This can be accelerated through continued armed struggle by the Houthi-army joint forces in ending the coalition's presence in Marib and beyond.

In response to the statement, the NSG Foreign Ministry has denounced the Security Council for ignoring Saudi war crimes against the Yemeni people in an illegal and unjustified war of aggression".

The ministry's statement indicated that "It is unfortunate that the Security Council continues to condemn the legitimate right of the Yemeni people to defend themselves and the sovereignty of their country, while ignoring the war crimes"

Other Houthi officials have also weighed in on the matter, for example the NSG's Deputy Foreign Minister, Hussein Al-Ezzi remarked on Thursday that "Foreign intervention is a significant obstacle in the path to reaching a Yemeni-Yemeni political solution", adding that international disregard for this issue has been one of the most significant causes of prolonging the war.

For Abdulmalik Al-Ajri, a member of the NSG's negotiating team the Security Council has proven that "it is nothing more than a UN agency that sells positions to the people of influence and money, and contrary to its mission to maintain world peace, it pours oil into the fire of conflict"

The Houthi movement's spokesperson, Mohammed Abdulsalam meanwhile said the Council's siding with the aggressors is not new, accusing it of displaying "blind bias since the first day that it has contributed to the prolongation of this conflict all these years". The rejection of the UNSC's statement by Yemeni supporters of the NSG has even led to the adoption of the hashtag #UNWarCouncil to highlight the double standards of the Council's policy towards Yemen.

At the time of writing, the Houthi forces continue to make gradual and steady territorial gains since the battle for Marib re-intensified last month, in arguably the most challenging resistance they've faced so far, given the high-stakes for the Hadi loyalists in losing oil-rich Marib. However, until we see the Saudi-coalition as being the aggressor in this war and Hadi's government, often referred to by Yemenis as "the government of hotels" for what it actually is, as previously argued, it is the failure in recognising who is actually governing most of the state's population that will prolong this devastating war. There can be little surprise, when the Security Council is condemning the party defending itself against daily airstrikes and violations of its sovereignty by the aggressor when the international community is recognising a "government" that has no substantial presence in the country. As long as this goes on, we can expect more futile and biased condemnations by the UNSC

Opinion: Failure to realise Yemen's political reality prolongs the conflict and crisis

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.

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