NEW YORK: The Emirati ambassador to the UN on Tuesday criticized the organization for failing to stem the Houthis’ aggression, and the “continued paralysis” of UN-led efforts to bring an end to the war in Yemen.
Lana Nusseibeh condemned the Iran-backed militia’s use of Hodeidah port for stocking weapons and launching attacks on maritime routes, “threatening the security of navigation and the countries of the region.” She called for the UN to monitor the port and prevent its use for warfare.
Nusseibeh called on the international community to deal “more firmly and realistically” with the Houthis by imposing further sanctions on them, cutting off their funding, and strictly implementing an arms embargo imposed by the UN Security Council in 2015, “all of which keep in mind the nature of the Houthis’ extremist ideology and their true intentions.” She also called for their designation as a terrorist organization.
Her remarks came at a UNSC meeting to discuss the latest developments in Yemen, less than a month after the Jan. 17 Houthi attacks on Abu Dhabi that killed three civilians and injured six.
At the time, the UNSC unanimously condemned the attacks, as did more than 120 countries and international organizations.
Despite international condemnation, Houthi attacks have persisted against the UAE and Saudi Arabia, reaching “unprecedented levels,” Nusseibeh said.
“Over the past months, we have heard numerous briefings, including from (UN Special Envoy Hans) Grundberg, calling on us to give him an opportunity for his efforts to bring the Houthis back to the negotiation table,” she added.
“However, after the UAE civilian infrastructure was subjected to terrorist attacks that claimed the lives of innocent civilians, we can only ask: When will the appeasement of this terrorist group end?”
Nusseibeh reaffirmed the UAE’s “sovereign right to take all the measures necessary to protect the security and stability of its territory, as well as the safety of its citizens and residents, from any terrorist attacks in accordance with its obligations under international law.”
The UAE continues to firmly support a political track in Yemen that reflects the realities on the ground and deals with the country’s grievances “in a tangible way,” she said, adding that such a spirit is embodied in the Saudi peace initiative.
Although she voiced support for talks between the Yemeni parties themselves, Nusseibeh warned: “The Houthis have demonstrated that they will not commit to any agreement without clear international pressure.
“As we have seen with the issue of the Safer oil tanker, the Houthis continue to break their promises and block the UN team from making its necessary assessments.”
Nusseibeh expressed deep concern over the continued deterioration of the humanitarian and economic situation in Yemen, and condemned Houthi attacks on aid workers and the militia’s manipulation and hampering of international aid.
“We also condemn their violations against women, including sexual violence, and against children by recruiting them into their military frontlines,” she said.
Linda Thomas-Greenfield, US ambassador to the UN, joined other Security Council members in strongly condemning the Houthi attacks against civilian sites “across the region over the last month, including multiple attacks on both the UAE and Saudi Arabia that killed innocent civilians.”
She added: “We stand united with our Saudi and Emirati partners, and remain committed to helping them defend their territory and their residents, which include tens of thousands of US citizens.”
Thomas-Greenfield said despite the UNSC’s condemnation, the Houthis continue to detain current and former Yemeni staff of the US Embassy, denying them contact with their families, and to control the embassy’s former compound in Sanaa.
She called for their immediate release “unharmed,” adding: “The inescapable conclusion is that we have failed to demonstrate to the Houthis there are consequences for this behavior.
“The Houthis have made it clear they seek to disrupt regional security, target civilian sites and disrupt maritime commerce.
“We must do more to counter such attacks, with a unified voice, including by imposing tangible costs.”
The Houthis’ latest offensive in Marib has represented “the most significant impediment to peace efforts,” Thomas-Greenfield said.
“It is clear this Houthi military offensive will only bring further suffering and worsen the humanitarian plight of the Yemeni people. It must end.”