posted on Fri 5 Aug 2011 10:32 AM
Briefing on Yemen

Next Tuesday (9 August) Council members will be briefed by Jamal Benomar, Special Advisor on Yemen. Benomar, who has been in Yemen for the last two weeks, is expected to focus his briefing on the GCC mediation efforts and on the current situation in the country. It appears that the GCC initiative for power-transition remains blocked. The situation in Yemen continues to be very tense. It is unclear if the Council will issue a statement following the briefing.

After Benomar’s last briefing on 24 June, the Council issued a press statement on Yemen in which it expressed grave concern at the deteriorating security and humanitarian situation and urged all parties to show maximum restraint and to engage in an inclusive political dialogue. It also welcomed the mediation efforts of the GCC. (Germany had taken the initiative on this issue on 20 April and 16 May when the Council was briefed on developments in Yemen as part of the regular monthly DPA briefing, but there was no consensus for having a press statement on those two previous occasions.)

Following his two-week visit, Benomar held a press conference where he warned that Yemen’s security could collapse if the two sides failed to reach a compromise soon. He also spoke of the consequences of the deterioration in the economy and humanitarian situation.

Among Council members, there are differences between those who see the GCC initiative as the way forward – where Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh would resign in 30 days and hold presidential elections in 60 days – and those who believe a modified approach to the GCC initiative may perhaps be warranted. A possible scenario might be for Saleh to transfer power to his vice-president and for elections to be held later in the year, giving time for a consensus candidate to emerge.

It also seems that some Council members are concerned that Benomar may be stretching his mandate too far. Others, however, see his efforts as an example of necessary preventive diplomacy.