World powers turn screw on Yemen rebels

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UNITED NATIONS, US: World powers united against Yemen’s Huthi rebels Tuesday, hitting them with a United Nations arms embargo and new United States sanctions.

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The UN Security Council vote came after Iran, which is accused of backing the rebels, proposed a ceasefire followed by foreign-mediated talks.

The Huthi revolt has forced President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi to flee the impoverished Arab state and threatens to provoke a humanitarian disaster.

The conflict has also further heightened tensions in the broader Middle East, with Saudi Arabia accusing Iran of fomenting the rebellion.

A Saudi-led coalition of Sunni-led states has launched air strikes against the Shiite rebels, and the civilian death toll is mounting.

The UN Security Council responded by slapping an arms embargo on the Huthis and demanding their fighters withdraw from the capital Sanaa.

Separately, the United States demanded that Iran obey the embargo and added two top figures in the rebellion to its sanctions blacklist.

Iran, meanwhile, was working on its own plan to end the conflict, proposing a negotiated peace plan that would lead to a power-sharing government.

Saudi air strikes
Saudi Arabia, which is determined to punish the Shiite rebels on its borders for driving its ally from Sanaa, will give that short shrift.

Saudi spokesman Brigadier General Ahmed al-Assiri told reporters the UN resolution shows the world supports the Saudi-led intervention.

“The United Nations vote today was a victory for the Yemen citizens before anyone else,” he said, adding the Council “sees the dangers in Yemen.”

The UN Security Council resolution was the first formal action by the body since the start of Saudi air strikes on March 26.

Iran’s ally Russia abstained in the vote, but did not veto it, allowing the other 14 members of the council to pass the resolution.

Tehran’s Shiite Islamist government has condemned the Saudi-led strikes.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, addressing reporters in Madrid, said world powers should instead back Tehran’s peace plan.

“I proposed a ceasefire followed by all inclusive Yemeni dialogue that is facilitated by others,” he said.

This could lead, he argued, “to the formation of a government in Yemen that represents a broadly based community.”

The Huthis, drawn from Yemen’s Shiite Zaidi minority, stormed Sanaa in September 2014, sweeping south from their highland stronghold.

Undaunted by the Saudi bombardment, they have since seized swathes of the country, bringing intense fighting to the port city of Aden.

The air campaign was launched by Saudi Arabia and a coalition of five Gulf monarchies plus Egypt, Jordan, Morocco and Sudan.

The UN resolution puts Huthi leader Abdulmalik al-Huthi and ex-president Ali Abdullah Saleh’s eldest son, Ahmed, on a sanctions list.

They are now under a global travel ban and member states are required to freeze any assets.

AFP

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