The UN Security Council voted Monday to extend to all of Yemen’s Huthi fighters an arms embargo that until now targeted only some leaders of the rebel group.
Yemen has since 2014 been embroiled in a civil war between the Iran-backed Huthis and the internationally recognized government, supported by a Saudi-led military coalition.
Monday’s resolution — proposed by the United Arab Emirates, which is part of the coalition — was adopted with 11 votes in favor and four abstentions.
Although the UAE withdrew ground troops in 2019, it remains a key player in the grinding conflict.
The UAE has been on heightened alert since a Huthi drone and missile attack killed three oil workers in the capital Abu Dhabi on January 17, the first in a string of attacks on what is usually viewed as a safe haven.
The Huthis have also regularly launched attacks against Saudi Arabia.
The resolution “strongly condemns the cross-border attacks by the Huthi terrorist group, including attacks on Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates striking civilians and civilian infrastructure, and demanding the immediate cessation of such attacks.”
The UAE mission to the UN said the “resolution will curtail the military capabilities” of the Huthis.
Saudi Arabia and its ally the United States have long accused Iran of supplying the Huthis with sophisticated weapons, a charge the Islamic republic denies.
Hundreds of thousands of people have been killed directly and indirectly in the war in Yemen and millions have been displaced, in what the UN calls the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.
UN experts have accused both sides in Yemen’s conflict of war crimes.
Russia, which is close to Iran, voted in favor of the resolution targeting the rebels.
Diplomats said this suggests a deal was cut between Moscow and the UAE, for the latter to abstain in upcoming UN votes on the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
One diplomat speaking on condition of anonymity called this “cynicism at its max.”
The resolution states that the Huthi rebels in their entirety will now be subject to an arms embargo, first declared in 2015 on some of their leaders.
Targeting of the rebels runs the risk of making the UN seem to lose its neutrality in the war in Yemen, experts say.
While important politically, the extension of the arms embargo will not change things much on the ground in the war itself, a diplomatic source said.
Russia’s position is linked to that of the UAE on the war in Ukraine, diplomats said.
Western countries “were very disappointed with the Emirates’ abstention twice, Friday and Sunday, on votes on resolutions in the Security Council on the war in Ukraine,” said one Western diplomat, speaking on condition of anonymity.
The UAE did this in order to keep Russia from vetoing the adoption of the broader arms embargo against the Huthis, the source added.
“We are very angry with the Emirates and convinced they made a dirty deal with Russia” that links the Huthis and Ukraine, another diplomat said.
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