A picture released by the Yemeni Presidency on February 26, 2015, shows President Abdrabuh Mansur Hadi (R) meeting UN envoy to Yemen Jamal Benomar in Aden, Yemen
A picture released by the Yemeni Presidency on February 26, 2015, shows President Abdrabuh Mansur Hadi (R) meeting UN envoy to Yemen Jamal Benomar in Aden, Yemen © - Yemeni Presidency/AFP/File
A picture released by the Yemeni Presidency on February 26, 2015, shows President Abdrabuh Mansur Hadi (R) meeting UN envoy to Yemen Jamal Benomar in Aden, Yemen
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AFP
Last updated: April 28, 2015

Former Yemen envoy criticizes UN embargo on Huthis

The former UN envoy to Yemen told the Security Council on Monday that an arms embargo targeting Shiite Huthi rebels risks impeding deliveries of desperately-needed humanitarian aid.

Moroccan diplomat Jamal Benomar delivered his final report to the 15-member council during a closed-door session held as Saudi-led coalition warplanes pounded the insurgents in southern Yemen.

"I warned the council that implementation of the new targeted arms embargo under the UN resolution could inadvertently restrict the flow of much-needed commercial goods and humanitarian assistance to Yemen including food, fuel and medical supplies," Benomar told reporters after the meeting.

The diplomat resigned earlier this month after losing the support of Gulf countries for his mediation efforts as Shiite Huthi rebels pushed their offensive.

Gulf countries this month pushed the Security Council to adopt a resolution imposing the arms embargo on the Huthis and their allies to ratchet up pressure on the insurgents to negotiate a political settlement.

Benomar maintained that the sides were "very close to an agreement" in the weeks leading up to the Saudi military campaign, but that the talks ran into problems over "the issue of the presidency."

Peace talks for Yemen collapsed after the Huthis captured the capital Sanaa and advanced on the southern city of Aden, forcing President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi into exile.

- Foreign meddling -

The former envoy stressed the importance of holding political negotiations that are free from foreign interference.

Saudi Arabia and its Gulf neighbors are backing Hadi as the legitimate head of state while Iran is accused of supporting the Huthis, raising fears of a broader regional conflict.

US Secretary of State John Kerry, in New York to address a nuclear non-proliferation conference, separately said he would urge Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif to help put political talks back on track.

"Yemen's future should be decided by Yemenis," Kerry insisted, adding "all Yemenis have the right to come to the table," but he said the country's future "should be decided by Yemenis on both sides of the current dispute not by external parties and proxies."

Benomar will be replaced by Mauritanian diplomat Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed, who worked as the UN humanitarian coordinator in Yemen from 2012 to 2014.

The United Nations is working to re-launch peace talks but has run into hurdles over the venue for meetings, with Saudi Arabia insisting that the talks be held in Riyadh.

A Saudi-led coalition launched air strikes on March 26 to push back the Huthi advance and restore Hadi's authority, but the military operation has raised international alarm over the mounting civilian toll.

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