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Yemen Eclipsed by Weapons Seizure & Iran Sanctions Committee, No Drones

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, February 7 – Yemen has been cited as one of the Security Council's successes, about which it remains very concerned.

   But Thursday's sixty-day briefing by UN envoy Jamal Benomar attracted interest mostly due to the allegation that weapons seized by the government came from Iran.

  Outside the closed door meeting, Western diplomats primed the pump speaking about a request from Yemen's Hadi government to “the relevant sanctions committee” to investigate the weapons – that would be, the Iran sanctions committee.

  Thus primed, when Benomar came out to the stakeout, after he vaguely referred to spoilers – which would seem to refer to Ali Saleh – he was asked by a wire service much concerned about Iran if the arms shipment from Iran (“allegedly” from Iran, it was quickly pointed out) was indicative of the spoilers he referred to.

  Benomar answered, never naming the committee to which the complaint was directed. But it is the Resolution 1737 Committee, the Iran Sanctions committee.

  Non-western diplomats who had been in the meeting told Inner City Press that the weapons and Iran was a part, but not the majority, of the discussion. But the Iran angle was being pushed and promoted outside.

   Inner City Press asked Benomar about the promised but delayed Transitional Justice law. He said the UN would like to see discussion of a new law, that comports with international standards. Would that remove immunity from Ali Saleh?

 During the Security Council's trip they were told by Nobel Peace Prize winner Tawakkol Karman and others that Saleh must be removed from politics.

   Benomar complainted how little of the $8 billion pledged to Yemen has come through. He did not directly mention it, but there have been protesters in front of the Council of Ministers office, amid calls for a new uprising, surrounded by the Fourth Armoured Brigade.

   As the session broke up, Inner City Press asked UK Permanent Representative Mark Lyall Grant if the weapons allegedly from Iran took the focus away from the Yemen transition issues.

  Lyall Grant told Inner City Press that while there is a move for a press statement on the weapons issues – Inner City Press understands that China on Thursday said it had to check with Beijing – there is also a move for a Presidential Statement on the Yemen issues.

   But will the weapons allegedly from Iran dominate some coverage? We will bet, yes.

   While the Council met behind closed doors about Yemen, in the Senate in Washington prospective CIA director John Brennan was questioned about torture, Benghazi, leaks and especially drones.

  Protesters unfurled signs; chair Diane Feinstein excused the killing of American citizens by drones since those targeted were “not upstanding.” (“Not anymore,” remarked one wag.)

  UN special rapporteur Ben Emmerson was reported to "endorse" Brennan as US CIA chief - strange, for a UN affiliated person.

   Inner City Press at the UNTV stakeout tried to ask Benomar a question about drones, about the US drone base in Saudi Arabia. But there were more Iran questions to be fielded, a whole machinery to be fed.

  If even the Western members of the Security Council acknowledge that the weapons allegedly from Iran was only a small part of Thursday's discussion, why it is pitched, accepted and promoted as the main story?

Sanctions footnotes: On another sanctions front, after the meeting the Permanent Representative of Eritrea knocked on the door to get into the Security Council. He told Inner City Press it was to deliver a letter to the chair of his (and Somalia's) sanctions committee.

  There's talk of removing the arms embargo on Somalia. But will the Council do it? Watch this site.

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