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Yemen toward chaos: new sanctions on the former president of Yemen and Houthi leaders

By Tajuddin
Nov 7th, 2014
Yemen's former President Ali Abdullah Saleh talks during an interview with Reuters in Sanaa May 21, 2014. REUTERS

Yemen’s former President Ali Abdullah Saleh talks during an interview with Reuters in Sanaa May 21, 2014. REUTERS

Sanaa ( Agencies + DIPLOMAT.SO) – The United Nations Security Council imposed targeted sanctions on Friday on Yemen’s former President Ali Abdullah Saleh and two senior Houthi rebel leaders for threatening the peace and stability of the country and obstructing the political process.

Lithuanian U.N. Ambassador Raimonda Murmokaite, chair of the council’s Yemen sanctions committee, said all 15 members had agreed to blacklist Saleh and Houthi rebel military leaders Abd al-Khaliq al-Huthi and Abdullah Yahya al Hakim. The three men are now subject to a global travel ban and asset freeze.

Saleh has denied seeking to destabilize Yemen and his party warned after a meeting on Thursday that any sanctions on the former president or “even waving such a threat would have negative consequences on the political process.”

The U.N. Security Council in February authorized sanctions against anyone in Yemen who obstructs the country’s political transition or commits human rights violations, but stopped short of blacklisting any specific individuals.

The United States submitted a formal request to the Yemen sanctions committee a week ago for Saleh and the Houthi leaders to be the first people designated.

“With today’s designations, members of the Security Council have made clear that the international community will not tolerate efforts to use violence to thwart the legitimate aspirations of the Yemeni people and their ongoing political transition,” said a U.S. official, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Yemen, a U.S. ally that borders oil-producer Saudi Arabia, is trying to end political unrest that began with mass protests against Saleh, president for 33 years until he stepped down in 2012.

“As of fall 2012 Ali Abdullah Saleh had reportedly become one of the primary supporters of the Huthi rebellion. Saleh was behind the attempts to cause chaos throughout Yemen,” the United States said in a “statement of case” obtained by Reuters.

“More recently, as of September 2014, Saleh is reportedly inciting instability in Yemen by using the Huthi dissident group to not only delegitimize the central government, but also create enough instability to stage a coup,” it said.

Fighting has flared in different parts of Yemen since the Houthis, a group of Shi’ite Muslim rebels, rose to dominance in recent months, threatening the fragile stability of a country bordering on Saudi Arabia, the world’s biggest oil exporter.

Yemen announce lineup of its new Cabinet

Yemen has announced a new 36-member government intended to take the impoverished country out of political crisis.

Formation of the new cabinet under a peace deal agreed on September 21, the day Shiite Huthi rebels seized the capital, had been delayed because of tensions between the rebels and their political rivals.

The new government includes four women, one of whom takes the information and culture portfolio. Four members of the outgoing cabinet were reappointed and three more changed portfolios, the state news agency Saba said yesterday.

Career diplomat Abdullah al-Saidi becomes foreign minister, and the new defence minister is General Mahmud al-Subaihi, who was commander of the 4th Military Region.

Political police chief General Jalal al-Ruishen becomes interior minister.

On November 1, the main political parties signed a new agreement, sponsored by UN envoy to Yemen Jamal Benomar, for the formation of a government of technocrats.

Under the accord, representatives of the rebels and their rivals, the Sunni Al-Islah (Reform) Islamic party, mandated President Abdrabuh Mansur Hadi to form a government and committed to support it.

“It is a compromise agreed to overcome the question of sharing out ministerial portfolios between the various groups” behind the political stalemate, signatory Abdel Aziz Jubari of the liberal Justice and Construction party told AFP at the time.

In the wake of the new agreement, Benomar warned in an interview with AFP that without the rapid formation of a government, tensions between Shiites and Sunnis were likely to increase, sinking the country deeper into crisis.

On October 31, the rebels — also known as Ansarullah — increased pressure on Hadi by giving him 10 days to form a new government or face the creation of a “national salvation council”.

With the exception of the October 13 appointment of Khalid Bahah as premier, the September 21 deal with the rebels had remained a dead letter.

Under the accord, the Huthis were to withdraw from Sanaa and disarm once a neutral prime minister is named.

Al Qaeda chief says Shiite rebels serve US-Iran plot

Al-Qaeda’s leader in Yemen has accused Shiite rebels sweeping across the country of collaborating with the United States and Iran to try to “destroy” Sunni Muslims.

An audio message purported to be from Nasser al-Wuhayshi, posted online Friday, says the aim of the “crusaders and the Iranians is to destroy effective Sunni forces and the faithful mujahideen, and to empower their collaborators.”

Al-Qaeda uses the term crusaders to refer to Western powers, especially those countries which have intervened militarily in Muslim countries.

The Sunni extremists have been locked in fierce clashes with Huthis Shiite rebels who overran the Yemeni capital in September and expanded east and south towards areas where Al-Qaeda militants are active.

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