The UN’s approach to resolving the long-running conflict in Yemen is insufficient as disarmament and arms control require a gradual approach and detailed plans, Yemen’s military attaché in Turkey says as the UN marks Disarmament Week.
Askar Zoail says armed groups have turned Yemen into “complete chaos” by which the country has lost its security and stability.
“The lack of disarmament affected the peace process in Yemen, as it contributed to the prolongation of the war, the emergence of warlords, the increase of terrorist activities and the division of the country and created an unprecedented humanitarian disaster,” Zoail says.
Zoail believes that the collapse of the state after the “Houthi coup” on 21 September 2014 with the help of former President Ali Abdullah Saleh opened the door for the Iranian-backed Houthis to control the state’s weapons.
“The inclusive chaos in the country provided an opportunity for Al-Qaeda and the military forces of the Southern Transitional Council [STC] to acquire more weapons,” he notes.
Zoail accuses regional powers of worsening the situation in Yemen as the United Arab Emirates (UAE) provided the STC forces with heavy weaponry and Iran is “still smuggling weapons” that were not present in the country before, including drones and missiles, to the Houthis.
While UN Security Council Resolution 2216 (2015) demands the Houthis end the use of violence and relinquish all additional arms seized from military and security institutions, including missile systems, Zoail thinks that having an international resolution is “not enough” to dismantle armed groups in Yemen as they are using violence as a tool to achieve their objectives.
“Disarmament terrifies these groups as it requires them to turn over their heavy weaponry, which is vital to their role as local agents of Iran and the UAE,” he says.
Iran, he adds, is using the Houthis as a “valuable card to manoeuvre in its game with regional and international powers.”
“The UAE is also using the STC to strengthen its influence by controlling the coasts of Yemen which contributes to the survival of its economy and adds additional value to its strategic agenda of being a strong regional player helping its international allies who control the UN resolutions,” he adds.
UN resolutions, in most cases, have not resolved any conflict in the world. The situation in Palestine is the best evidence for this
Under the auspices of Saudi Arabia, the internationally-backed government of Yemen signed a deal with the STC on 5 November 2019 in the Saudi capital Riyadh which calls for the formation of a shared government, the unification of the country’s armed forces, and the return of the internationally recognised government to Aden.
While the STC has become part of the current government, it is still “refusing” to implement the military part of the agreement as it “fears losing its control over many state institutions in the south,” Zoail says.
“The STC believes that implementing the agreement takes away its power and turns over its weapons to the legitimate government. Thus, it will not be able to implement its ambitions to become the only ruler in the southern region and accomplish its separatist agenda,” he adds.
The STC forces will be incorporated into the ministries of interior and defence, which will ultimately be under the authority of President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi’s government, according to the Riyadh Agreement.
Although the STC and the IRG have repeatedly reaffirmed their commitment to the agreement, it is evident that neither of the parties are genuinely interested in following through with the deal.
Zoail stresses that keeping weapons in the hands of these groups (Houthis, STC and Al-Qaeda) creates a “threat to national security and undermines international peace and security.”
“Maintenance of the security chaos in Yemen is endangering regional security, exposing the international maritime commercial routes to more terrorist attacks and increasing the flow of weapons to terrorist groups,” he adds.
UN Disarmament Week is observed annually from 24-30 October to promote awareness and understanding of the issue of disarmament, to reduce the use of weapons and bring peace to societies.
Disclaimer: 'UN resolutions have not resolved any conflict. The situation in Palestine is the best evidence for this' - Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not necessarily reflect Latheefarook.com point-of-view