The U.N. special envoy for Yemen warned an emergency meeting of the U.N. Security Council on Sunday that events appear to be leading the country “to the edge of civil war” and urged all parties to step back from the brink and resolve the conflict peacefully.
Jamal Benomar stressed repeatedly in a video briefing from Qatar that “peaceful dialogue is the only option we have.”
That view was echoed by the Security Council in a presidential statement which reaffirmed the readiness of the U.N.’s most powerful body to take “further measures” against any party impeding the road to peace in Yemen. That could mean new sanctions, or possibly other actions.
Benomar said “it would be an illusion” to think that Houthi Shiite rebels — who control the capital Sanaa, much of the north, and are moving further south backed by some members of Yemen’s armed forces — could succeed in taking control of the entire country. On Sunday, the Houthis seized Taiz, Yemen’s third-largest city.
“It would be equally false,” Benomar said, to think that embattled President Abed-Rabbo Mansour Hadi, who fled earlier this month to the southern city of Aden — the country’s economic hub — could assemble sufficient forces “to liberate the country from the Houthis.”
He warned that any party that pushes the country in either direction “would be inviting a protracted conflict in the vein of an Iraq, Syria, Libya combined scenario.”
Yemen’s turmoil and political crisis has deepened since the Houthis seized Sanaa in September and put Hadi under house arrest and eventually dissolved the country’s parliament. The country’s al-Qaida branch, considered by the United States the terror network’s most dangerous offshoot, has stepped up attacks against the Shiite rebels.
The Houthis newly announced move to take over the entire country follows the suicide bombings of a pair of mosques in Sanaa that killed 137 people which were claimed by the Islamic State group. It also followed clashes around Aden’s airport and planes from Sanaa dropping bombs on the city’s presidential palace which Benomar said fortunately did not injure Hadi, who is strongly supported by the Security Council.
Read more: Fox News