The United Nations Security Council was set to meet in emergency session Sunday evening to vote on a resolution demanding that Shiite rebels relinquish control of Yemen’s government, as Arab countries pressed for the use of military force against what they call the rebel group’s “illegitimate seizure of power.”
A takeover by the Houthi rebels has put the Arab world’s poorest country in danger of collapse and raised alarms that the world’s most dangerous branch of al-Qaida, based in Yemen, would use the chaos to its advantage. The Houthis and the militant Sunnis of the al-Qaida branch are bitter rivals.
Worried that Shiite powerhouse Iran is backing the rebels, foreign ministers of the largely Sunni six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council on Sunday urged the Security Council to intervene. They warned that if the world fails to respond they are prepared to take action on their own to maintain regional security and stability. They did not elaborate on what measures the group might take.
A Security Council draft resolution on Yemen, obtained Saturday by The Associated Press, demands that the Houthis “immediately and unconditionally” withdraw forces from government institutions, release U.S.-backed President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi and his Cabinet from house arrest and engage “in good faith” in U.N.-led peace talks.
But that draft falls short of what the GCC would like. The GCC ministers said Sunday they wanted a U.N. resolution that would allow for the use of military force “over the Houthis’ illegitimate seizure of power.”
They also demanded that the resolution impose sanctions against anyone “hampering the process of peaceful transition of power” and called for urgent action to ensure Hadi’s safety. The draft only calls for “further steps” if the parties in Yemen fail to implement the resolution.
The GCC includes Yemen’s neighbors Saudi Arabia and Oman as well as Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain, and the United Arab Emirates.