Crisis in Yemen: What Next?

We can see that Yemen is “collapsing before our eyes”, said the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, as he appealed to the Security Council for action to halt Yemen’s slide toward anarchy.

We have “temporarily suspended our embassies’ operations and evacuated our staff for security reasons” in Sanaa, the capital of Yemen, said announcements from Saudi Arabia and UAE.

We want the “U.N. Security Council to take a decision under Chapter Seven of the United Nations Charter,” said the six GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council) member-states after their extraordinary ministerial meeting in Riyadh on Saturday.

United States, Britain and France had already rushed to close their embassies, much early, on Wednesday, over security fears.

International outrage, therefore, at the goings-on in Yemen is very clear and very strong.

Chapter Seven of UN Charter provides for the use of military force if there are breaches of peace, or acts of aggression. And if that is invoked, I think, it could be much worse for this country already suffering a political earthquake of immense magnitude.

According to Al Arabiya News, “On Feb. 6, Houthi militias, led by Abdulmalik al-Houthi, dissolved Yemen’s government and parliament and announced a series of constitutional decrees drafted by the powerful Shiite militia.

“Last month, the armed rebels stormed into the presidential complex and several government buildings, forcing Abdrabuh Mansour Hadi to resign. The takeover led to further insecurity in a country already rife with insurgency”.

Now, if the reader goes back a few months, he will remember that the Houthis had actually seized Sanaa in September.

Despite a U.N.-brokered deal, these Houthis have refused to withdraw their fighters from the city. And since last month, Yemeni President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi and his prime minister are under de facto house arrest.

As I write this, news has come in that a draft UN Security Council resolution is ready. This draft obtained by the Associated Press demands that Shiite Houthi rebels “immediately and unconditionally” withdraw forces from government institutions, release U.S.-backed President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi and his Cabinet from house arrest, and engage “in good faith” in U.N.-led peace talks.

I know that this draft resolution, obviously, will not keep other Arab states or GCC member states satisfied. They are asking for military action under Chapter 7 of the UN Charter.

The big question now is, what next?

If this draft resolution is perceived as weak, the power usurpers could well go unopposed and the country will be – as many are saying – at a crossroads between “civil war and disintegration.”

If UN withdraws this resolution and takes up a strong military action, it could be even more disastrous for a country that is in turmoil struggling to come out of the grip of extremists who include the Al Qaeda of the Arabian Peninsula.

Whichever way we look, the now and the near future of Yemen seems very bleak and very unstable.

The UN draft resolution shuns external interference in Yemen’s internal affairs. But is that possible? Is that avoidable?

Anyway, did the Houthis take over the country without external assistance?

Inside Yemen, the growing tension between the current power grabbers and the current protestors gives no indication that the problem can be internally solved.

Let us hope, however, that UN Special Adviser on Yemen, Jamal Benomar, who is continuing to facilitate negotiations, will come out with some magic formula.