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On Yemen, G7 Defers to "UN-Led" Process Which Hadi Calls "Not Talks"

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, June 8 -- The G7 Leaders' Declaration issued in Schloss Elmau, Germany mentioned Yemen all of once: "We support the ongoing UN-led processes to find lasting solutions for peace and stability in Syria, Libya and Yemen."

  But is the Yemen process, even as set to be revived on June 14 in Geneva, really "UN-led"? UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon allowed his first May 11 talks to be banned, by the US functionally on behalf of Saudi Arabia.

  How Saudi-based Hadi tells Saudi TV of the June14 session, "These are not talks, it is only a discussion to implement U.N. Security Council resolution 2216, how to implement it on the ground."

  Ban Ki-moon, present in the photo at Schloss Elmau, issued a read-out with Angela Merkel which did not even mention Ukraine, much less Yemen. This is UN leadership.

The UN Secretariat's bungling of Yemen mediation has become ever more clear, according to multiple sources and documents exclusively seen by Inner City Press, see below. But hope springs eternal: on June 6, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon announced a new round of talks to start June 14, while calling on unnamed regional countries to reduce civilian suffering in Yemen.

  How could that be, a regional country causing suffering in Yemen? This is craven diplomacy. Here is Ban's statement, here.

 On June 3, the UN Security Council got a briefing about Yemen from new UN Emergency Relief Coordinator Stephen O'Brien. Inner City Press staked-out the meeting and was told that O'Brien would speak. But when he emerged, he begged off.

 While perhaps this is because his first week, the Free UN Coalition for Access believes O'Brien should speak on the record, particularly on Yemen at this point (as well as Sudan, Burundi and so forth).

  O'Brien did not speak, but Russia's Vitaly Churkin did, including about O'Brien. Churkin said "Mr O’Brien, it’s his first appearance at the Security Council, his account was very graphic, about the humanitarian consequences. Over 2000 people dead, a lot of destruction, the fact that it’s difficult to bring in humanitarian supplies, it’s difficult to bring in commercial supplies. Commercial supplies and the situation in Yemen, it’s also a humanitarian aspect of the whole situation, because it doesn’t include the fuel oil, and without fuel the country cannot function because of electricity and things like that. So, it’s extremely dramatic situation and a strong reason to stop fighting and start seriously to talk, without preconditions, as the statement which we adopted finally last night is pointing out."

 On June 2 the UN Security Council has issued a Press Statement calling for the resumption of talks -- on information and belief on June 10 -- in Geneva, without preconditions. Here is the Security Council Press Statement, eights minutes after it was issued:

"The members of the Security Council expressed their deep concern about the grave situation in Yemen. In this regard, the members of the Security Council were deeply disappointed that the consultations in Geneva planned for 28 May did not take place. The members of the Security Council urged Yemeni stakeholders to participate in the UN-brokered inclusive political consultations as soon as possible.
The members of the Security Council recalled Security Council resolutions 2014 (2011), 2051 (2012), 2140 (2014), 2201 (2015) and 2216 (2015), emphasizing the need for a peaceful, orderly, inclusive and Yemeni-led transition process. The members of the Security Council reiterated their demand for the full implementation of relevant Security Council resolutions, and reiterated their call from resolution 2216 (2015) on all Yemeni parties to resume and accelerate UN-brokered political inclusive consultations.
The members of the Security Council reaffirmed their call on Yemeni parties to attend these talks and engage without preconditions and in good faith, including by resolving their differences through dialogue and consultations, rejecting acts of violence to achieve political goals, and refraining from provocation and all unilateral actions to undermine the political transition. The members of the Security Council emphasized that the UN-brokered inclusive political dialogue must be a Yemeni-led process, with the intention of brokering a consensus-based political solution to Yemen’s crisis in accordance with the Gulf Cooperation Council Initiative and its Implementation Mechanism, the outcomes of the comprehensive National Dialogue conference, and relevant Security Council resolutions.
The members of the Security Council reiterated their full support for the efforts of the United Nations and the Special Envoy of the Secretary-General on Yemen, and further reiterated their request of the Secretary-General to intensify his good offices role in order to enable a resumption of a peaceful, inclusive, orderly, and Yemeni-led political transition process that meets the legitimate demands and aspirations of the Yemeni people.
The members of the Security Council endorsed the UN Secretary General’s call for a further humanitarian pause in order to allow assistance to reach the Yemeni people urgently. The members of the Security Council urged all parties to facilitate the urgent delivery of humanitarian assistance, as well as rapid, safe, and unhindered access for humanitarian actors to reach people in need of humanitarian assistance, including medical assistance. The members of the Security Council called upon all sides to comply with international humanitarian law, including taking all feasible precautions to minimize harm to civilians and civilian objects, including water systems, schools, and hospitals, and to urgently work with the United Nations and humanitarian aid organizations to get assistance to those in need. The members of the Security Council stressed the urgent need for ongoing commercial supplies to enter Yemen because of the heavy dependence of Yemen and its people on imported food and fuel.
The members of the Security Council reaffirmed their strong commitment to the unity, sovereignty, independence, and territorial integrity of Yemen, and its commitment to stand by the people of Yemen."

 Background: Inner City Press has learned how new UN envoy Ismael Ould Cheikh Ahmed was viewed during his Sana'a trip as a "tool of the Saudis," and how with the UN having thus marginalized itself, the process has moved beyond it to Oman, with involvement of UN Security Council members which still pay lip service to Ould Cheikh Ahmed's shrunken role.

  On Cheikh Ahmed's first day in Sana'a, Inner City Press is told, the Houthis let him wait, and stew. When they met him, he was asked why the previously Yemeni-agreed Peace and Partnership Agreement was being dropped, if he wasn't a "tool of the Saudis."

  The answer was not convincing. Cheikh Ahmed was said to be asking the Saudis how much time they want, to continue bombing Yemen. Is this was the UN should be, it was asked.

  Even Security Council (Permanent) members who say there is no military solution and pay lip service to Cheikh Ahmed's so far unsuccessful work are now working around the UN, through Oman. We'll have more on this.

  On May 26, Inner City Press asked UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric, video here:

Inner City Press: on Yemen, since we're on this topic.  I mean that sort of goes to the heart of it.  Didn't he say there would be no preconditions?  So, if the Riyadh conference that the Houthis didn't attend is somehow involved or a basis of these talks…?

Spokesman:  I think… we're talking about getting people around the table.  That's what we want to see.  I'm not going to start to negotiate from here with the different parties.

Inner City Press:  Sure.  But how about… okay.  One's kind of a strange one.  I heard something like the children's parliament has been invited and would be flown in at UN's expense.  Is that the case?  Is it true that either the Yemeni Government or the Saudi side provided a list of accepting candidates under the categories of youth, civil society and women?

Spokesman:  I think… I think all the different sides are engaged in… what could we say… a tussle.  I think what we need to see is we need to see all of them… all the parties around the table.  I don't have any specific information on the children's parliament.

Question:  One more?

Spokesman:  I'll come back to you.

 Some of the UN's bungling is entirely public.  Two days after Inner City Press and others reported that the May 28 talks were postponed or canceled, only on the afternoon of May 26 did Ban confirm the postponement. Here is his announcement:

"The Secretary-General has asked his Special Envoy to Yemen, Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed, to postpone the consultations in Geneva planned for 28 May following a request from the Government of Yemen and other key stakeholders for more time to prepare. The Secretary-General is actively working to convene the talks at the earliest possible time.

The Secretary-General is disappointed that it has not been possible to commence such an important initiative at the soonest possible date and reiterates his call for all parties to engage in United Nations-facilitated consultations in good faith and without pre-conditions. He also reiterates that the only durable resolution to the crisis in Yemen is an inclusive, negotiated political settlement.  

The Secretary-General has instructed his Special Envoy to redouble his efforts to consult with the Yemeni Government, Yemen’s political groupings and countries in the region with the aim of producing a comprehensive ceasefire and the resumption of peaceful dialogue and an orderly political transition.

Noting that the conflict has escalated once again following a much-needed five-day humanitarian pause, the Secretary-General urges all parties to be mindful of the suffering of Yemeni civilians, and to support the efforts of the Special Envoy. He is acutely aware that a postponement or delay in a return to the political process will exacerbate a steadily deepening humanitarian crisis.

The Geneva initiative, aimed at bringing together a broad range of Yemeni governmental and other actors, follows extensive consultations by the Special Envoy as well as strong expressions of support by various Security Council resolutions, including 2216 (2015), for a peaceful and Yemeni-led political transition process based on the Gulf Cooperation Council Initiative and its Implementation Mechanism and the outcomes of the comprehensive National Dialogue Conference. "

 On May 24 Inner City Press was informed that the UN already informed the Houthis and other participants that May 28 was off.

  But what were and are the Saudis' demands? Inner City Press is exclusively informed by well placed sources that the Saudis demand that the basis -- and constraints -- of the Geneva meeting be the "Riyadh Declaration," reached without any involvement by the Houthis.

  The UN already let the Saudis name individuals who would attend under the heading "women, youth and civil society." The GCC and the G14 were to attend -- the deck was already stacked for the Saudis. But they wanted the Riyadh Declaration as the basis (just as they excluded the September 2014 Peace and Partnership Agreement).

 Or, as one well place source put it, the Saudis don't WANT a UN process, "they want to keep bombing, either to eliminate the Houthis" - a la Sri Lanka and the LTTE -- or to "make them capitulate and agree to a final meeting in Riyadh."

   The Houthis agreeing to that, ever, seems unlikely. It is the UN of Ban Ki-moon that has capitulated. Watch this site.

  First the UN allowed US Secretary of State John Kerry to tell it not to dare hold Yemen talks in Geneva on May 11 as the UN had planned, as Inner City Press exclusively reported on May 6.

  Now the May 28 talks in Geneva, conveniently after the Houthi-less talks in Riyadh, will be stacked in ways both pro-Saudi and laughable, sources tell Inner City Press.

 New Saudi-picked "UN" envoy Ismael Ould Cheikh Ahmed, who appeared on the podium in Riyadh, has dropped from the list of documents on which the May 28 talks are based the Peace and Partnership Agreement that all Yemeni political parties agreed to on September 21, 2014.

  The reason? Saudi Arabia doesn't like what was agreed to at that time: it created obligations not only for the Houthis but also for Hadi. So it is gone.

Update: and now, at least for now, so is Hadi. Despite the May 28 talks being Saudi dominated, Hadi says he won't go unless Security Council resolution 2216 is "fully implemented." And about about the Peace and Partnership Agreement that he signed but didn't implement? We'll have more on this.

   Slated for attendance on May 28 are the Saudi-led Organization of the Islamic Conference, the Gulf Cooperation Council currently headed by Bahrain and GCC Secretary-General Abdullatif Al-Zayani - but notably not Iran. The number of seats for the Houthis will be limited.

  Who else is slated to go? Causing laughter in diplomatic circle and in Yemen where it is sorely needed, Cheikh Ahmed is angling to fly in the so-called Children's Parliament organized by an NGO in Yemen, as well as their parents and guardians. "Who is paying for this?" one source demanded of Inner City Press.

  Inner City Press asked UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric at the UN noon briefing on May 26.

  This last step is blamed by the sources on Cheikh Ahmed having little political background. Inner City Press has already reported on his failure while previously in Yemen to protect UN staff -- failure to pick up the armored vehicles from the airport or have the recommended security detail with staff going to the airport, leading to the long kidnapping of a UNICEF staffer.

 But even at UNICEF, Cheikh Ahmed was in human resources, not substantive policy. And the Press questions about his fishing business and its funders remain UNanswered. We'll have more on this.

  For now, this: Inner City Press is informed that after Cheikh Ahmed's quick visit to Iran, he was summoned back to Riyadh and, highly irregular for the UN, went without his policy "team," not even a note-taker. What might have been discussed?

  The UN, we note, routinely refuses to answer Press questions.

  Back on April 29, Inner City Press asked the UN's deputy spokesperson to confirm that the UN was considering Geneva as a venue to continue Yemen talks, after its previous envoy Jamal Benomar resigned in protest of Saudi airstrikes and was replaced by a more amenable envoy, Ismael Ould Cheikh Ahmed.


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