The Houthi militia, which seized power from Yemen’s government on February 6, is outraged at a resolution going before the UN Security Council on Sunday. The Houthis had been working toward this goal for some time, having taken over the capital last September. The resolution will urge the militia to return power to government institutions unconditionally.
The UN resolution will put pressure on the militia to relinquish power and return hostages. The president and prime minister of Yemen are among the government officials being held under house arrest or otherwise detained.
The Houthis have attempted to suppress opposition by banning anti-Houthi protests. They have repeatedly used live ammunition to disperse protests. In addition, they have been accused of torturing their opponents. The family of one man who was tortured while a captive of the militia told reporters that he died on Friday night. Two more men who were held with him are being treated in a hospital after they were left on the street.
The unrest in Yemen in anticipation of the UN resolution and the outraged response of the militia have led to more protests this weekend. Two protesters in Ibb were injured when Houthi forces fired on them to disperse the crowd. They were demanding the release of an anti-Houthi activist.
Despite Houthi efforts to curb opposition and their expansion into other regions of Yemen, three provinces, Aden, Lahij, and Mahra, are standing against the militia. After meeting in Aden to discuss the situation, the leaders of the three provinces announced that they support the country becoming a federation as discussed at meetings last year. They called for the reinstatement of the president and for the militia to step down.
This resolution will not be the first time that the UN has become involved in Yemen’s current crisis. Last year, the militia refused to withdraw from the capital in defiance of pressure from the UN. This resolution and the reaction to it may end the same way. Leaders of the Houthis said on Sunday that the resolution was “provocative blackmail.” He told the media that “the Yemeni people” will not relinquish their authority because of a threat.
The United Nations is putting forward the resolution on the urging of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), which is also urging the organization to evoke Chapter Seven of the UN Charter. This section of the charter, once in effect for a situation, allows nations to place economic and military pressure on an offending nation to enforce a resolution. The GCC said that if the resolution is violated, it will step in to ensure compliance. The representative who spoke to reporters would not say how it planned to do this.
The resolution also has the support of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation. The Organization condemned the “coup” and desires to return peace to the area. However, the resolution will only be effective if the terms are enforced and the Houthi militia follows its terms. Last week, they resumed talks supported by the UN, but the Yemen militia’s outraged response to the proposed resolution may make talks more difficult.
By Kirstin Pinto