Report of the Secretary-General pursuant to Security Council Resolution 2014 (2011) and Resolution 2051 (2012)
1. I have just returned with my team from Yemen, where I stayed from 6-16
September, my 14th visit. The Council’s ongoing engagement on Yemen,
including last week’s press statements condemning the unjustified terrorist attacks,
evidence your continued commitment to the peaceful negotiated transition in
Yemen, knowing well the obstacles that could impede its success. Indeed, the
number of challenges that remain seems overwhelming.
2. During this briefing, I will outline the current challenges to you and where
possible, identify any obstruction to progress. After all, your visit will offer an
important opportunity to demonstrate to those contributing to instability in Yemen
that the Security Council is carefully noting their involvement. However, I do not
wish to be misunderstood that the news is only bleak. The government, under the
stewardship of President Hadi, has progressed in relation to a number of
transitional tasks which I will also elaborate on.
3. Let me begin with the security situation during this reporting period. There
have been several attacks against Government facilities and individuals by Ansar
Al-Sharia/AQAP, and serious incidents involving the major military actors. The
government offensive against Al Qaeda has led to their displacement from Abyan
and their subsequent infiltration into other areas of the country including major
urban centres. More than a dozen high profile assassination attempts have
occurred. The most recent attack directed at the Minister of Defence led to a
number of deaths and is the sixth assassination attempt he has faced, serving as a
stark reminder of this threat.
4. Significant security threats, especially to members of the government and
military leaders, will likely remain. In several parts of the country, rival armed
groups are consolidating their position and often intimidating the local population.
A call by the popular governor of Ta’iz to ban the display of weapons in the city
has been disregarded by armed groups supporting either side, undermining civilian
5. In the South, in addition to the campaign to expel al-Qaeda, sporadic
confrontations between armed elements of the Hiraak movement and security
forces have also continued. There are reports alleging that some extremist
elements of the Hiraak movement are receiving financial support and supplies
from outside of Yemen, enabling them to provide training and acquire weapons.
There are also reports suggesting that these Hiraak elements are forming
something of an alliance with the Houthi insurgency in the North.
6. In the North, clashes between the Tribal groups said to be affiliated with
the Islah party and the Houthis have persisted. There have also been
confrontations involving the Houthis, local tribes and Salafists in Amran, Hajja,
Jawf and Sa’ada. Of note, Houthis have established new defensive positions. What
was originally a push westward by the Houthis, in a bid for control over the
coastal area and ports, has now began to push further East into the more stridently
held Salafist areas of Amran. Houthis already controlled primary road movement
between Amran and the Saudi Arabian border, and with the expansion, they now
heavily influence freedom of movement between Amran and Hajjah.
7. In Sana’a, during Ramadan, security forces supposedly under the command
of the government mounted attacks on both the Ministry of the Interior and
Ministry of Defense. The attack on the Ministry of Defence just prior to the Eid
holiday was carried out by hundreds of soldiers associated with the Republican
Guards—a formation headed by the son of the former President Saleh, Ahmed Ali.
They had abandoned their post fighting al-Qaeda in Abyan and moved to the
capital in open rebellion.
8. These attacks came in response to the decisions of the President relating to
the reassignment of certain troops to different commands. This comes on top of
previous incidences where decisions by the President seeking to remove some top
military leaders were actively resisted by former President Saleh, his son Ahmed
Ali, and other relatives with command positions in the security sector, leading to
the adoption of resolution 2051 (2012). Nevertheless, the President has persisted
in his efforts to reorganize the security sector although his instructions have often
been openly resisted. Indeed, just last week, following the attack on the Minister
of Defence, he appointed a new chief of National Security and other senior
appointments including governors. The recent attack on the US embassy in Sana’a
and the complacency of the Yemeni security forces in failing to protect the
premises is a reminder of the need to accelerate the reform of the security sector.
9. In general terms, these developments suggest that state authority continues
to be undermined. Indeed local strongmen are starting to establish themselves in
place of the government, often through intimidation and the power of the gun.
Corresponding to the difficult security environment, the humanitarian situation
remains desperate, with 10 million—virtually half the population—living in foodinsecure
conditions. My colleague, Mr. Philippe Lazzarini, will elaborate further
on the humanitarian situation. Earlier this month, donors pledged a total of $6.4
billion dollars to support Yemen of which the Saudi contribution stands at $3.25
billion, to overcome its development and humanitarian challenges at a conference
held in Riyadh. The upcoming Friends of Yemen meeting on 27 September will
provide another opportunity for international support to Yemen.
10. In view of the many challenges it faces, it is unsurprising that the
government is prevented from asserting its full authority and from functioning
effectively. Moreover, the deep rift between the two principal political blocks
constituting the Government of National Unity persists. Media outlets belonging
to both sides are exacerbating this divide by contributing to acrimonious partisan
discourse. Former President Saleh continues to exercise his functions as leader of
the GPC party. During a recent GPC event, in a public address, he demonized the
Government of National Unity, despite the fact that half of the government is
composed of members of his party, thus triggering orchestrated demonstrations
11. In addition to the general instability and uncertainty pervading the country,
there are continuing attacks against the economic infrastructure, in particular the
oil pipe-lines, evidently aimed at destabilizing the country further. It is against this
background that many Yemenis are keen to see the Council taking action in follow
up to Resolution 2051 (2012). They feel that those unable to accept political
change may be connected with the attempt to destabilize the economy and its
necessary infrastructure through sabotage attacks.
12. While former President Saleh has not left the political stage, his son retains
control over the Republican Guards, perhaps the most potent military unit in the
country. His removal from command, and that of other members of the Saleh
family or circle of close supporters, remains a key demand of the opposition on the
13. With recent political developments new alignments of political forces are
being formed. The GPC and even parts of the JMP believe that the Islah party is
the prime beneficiary in this political transition, benefitting from recent
appointments that will allow its influence to expand in central and local
governments. Divisions are now emerging within both the GPC and JMP despite
long-standing appearances of cohesion. It remains to be seen how this will affect
the upcoming National Dialogue Conference and other transition steps.
14. While there have been positive human rights developments such as the
decline in violence against peaceful protestors, the increasing number of civil
society organizations legally registered, and the enhanced attention to women’s
issues and their participation in the national dialogue process, key human rights
issues remain unaddressed. Of concern is the continued detention of individuals by
Government security forces without due process, the unresolved issue of those
alleged to be detained from last year’s protests, and the illegal detention of
individuals by armed groups and militia.
15. Rule of law remains fragile throughout the country, including in the capital
Sana’a and in particular, areas that have witnessed conflict such as Abyan in the
south and Sa’ada in the north. The general absence of governmental authority in
these areas has led to a vacuum in the administration of justice. In Abyan, despite
the retreat of AQAP, there is no presence of state institutions including law
enforcement and a functioning judiciary. Thus far, law and order in most of Abyan
has largely been in the hands of the tribal militia, through popular committees. In
Sa’ada de facto control remains with the Houthis.
16. Reports indicate that children have continued to be recruited by
government forces and armed opposition groups. Little progress seems to have
been made in relation to the return and reintegration of children to civilian life.
Further, the adoption of the transitional justice law and the establishment of the
independent commission of inquiry have been long delayed; however, I have been
assured during this visit that these issues will be addressed.
17. The clock continues to tick with the transition and there are already delays
related to key decisions on electoral issues. I have pressed all sides to move
forward with setting up a new electoral commission to enable elections to take
place as scheduled. I expect there to be developments on this in the near future.
18. It is true, all of these problems are serious, and they will continue to place
the transition in Yemen at risk. The stakes remain high. But on the other hand,
there are some encouraging signs. With stops and starts, frustrations and delay, the
process of transition is in fact slowly moving ahead. This applies particularly to
the preparations for the National Dialogue Conference—a key step in the
19. The National Dialogue will allow all segments of society in Yemen to
participate in the process of fashioning a new political order that genuinely meets
their aspirations. We have emphasized throughout the need to ensure that the
dialogue is fully inclusive, that it is conducted in a transparent and genuine way,
and that its outcomes be implemented. The political will of the major political
parties to participate constructively will be crucial in determining the failure or
success of this venture. The other major hurdle concerns the treatment of the
difficult issue on the South—an issue where even the Southerners are divided by
many views and opinions.
20. During this past mission my team and I have continued to work closely
with the Technical Committee appointed by President Hadi in mid-July and tasked
with all preparations for the National Dialogue Conference. Encouragingly, the
atmosphere in the Committee is one of cooperation and constructive dialogue,
despite the fact that a number of different constituencies that normally stand in
sharp opposition to each other are represented. We have met with individual
members of the Committee as well as with the whole Committee, almost on a
daily basis. We shared background papers on comparative lessons from National
Dialogue Conferences elsewhere and offered detailed advice and options for the
Committee to make informed decisions.
21. Throughout, the discussions with the Committee have been focused and
well-prepared. I am pleased to report that upon my departure on Saturday, the
Committee had made significant progress. In addition, in line with Resolution
1325 and other relevant standards, we have pressed for full representation of
women, at a level of at least 30 per cent, also reflecting the demand made by
different women’s associations across the country.
22. Another important issue concerns the treatment of the South. Particular
attention needs to be paid to reassuring the Southern Hiraak that the National
Dialogue is a historical opportunity to find a just and sustainable solution to the
Southern question. Indeed, additional steps are needed to build confidence among
the Southerners in the dialogue process to address their grievances, including the
acknowledgement of past injustices.
23. I have attempted to give you a realistic picture of the situation as you and
the other members of the Council are preparing for your upcoming visit to Yemen.
There is reason for hope. Just cast your minds back for one moment to the
situation in Yemen a year ago. The city of Sana’a was divided, with rival armed
groups in control and in active combat. Civilian life had come to a standstill.
Significant parts of the country were coming under the control of al-Qaeda, with
instability spreading in the South, placing the future integrity of the country at
risk. In the North, open and serious military confrontation persisted.
24. Yemen has come a long way since last September and the change that has
been achieved is extraordinary. However, the situation remains fragile and armed
confrontation persists in some areas. The government is finding it difficult to
exercise its functions throughout the country. Key political actors are still not
reconciled with the fact that real and meaningful change must now occur in
Yemen. Some of them are obstructing progress. Yemenis are expecting the
Council to monitor the spoilers very closely with a view to considering targeted
measures should such conduct persist.
25. Members of the Security Council speaking with one voice, the GCC, the
diplomatic community in Sana’a and other international partners have made
tremendous efforts to support the Yemen’s peaceful political transition. I am sure
that you will not allow some individuals and groups to destroy the hopes and
aspirations of the people of Yemen, now that a realistic path exists towards their
Thank you Mr. President.