U.N. vote as early as Friday on Yemen arms embargo -diplomats

by Reuters
Friday, 10 April 2015 01:42 GMT

By Michelle Nichols

UNITED NATIONS, April 9 (Reuters) - The U.N. Security Council could vote as early as Friday on a resolution to blacklist the son of the Yemen's former president and a Houthi leader and effectively impose an arms embargo on the rebels that rule most of the country, diplomats said.

Council member Jordan and Gulf Arab states finalized their draft text on Thursday. Diplomats, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the resolution may be put to a vote in the 15-member Security Council on Friday or Saturday.

It was unclear how Russia would vote. Diplomats said Russia had suggested during negotiations that an arms embargo should also include the Yemen government of President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi. The Russian U.N. mission declined to comment.

Saudi Arabia launched air strikes against the Iran-allied Houthis in neighboring Yemen some two weeks ago with a coalition made up mainly of four Gulf Arab allies. The United States said on Tuesday it is speeding up arms supplies to the coalition.

The draft U.N. resolution would impose a global asset freeze and travel ban on Ahmed Saleh, the former head of Yemen's elite Republican Guard, and Abdulmalik al-Houthi, a top leader of the Shi'ite Houthi group.

Saleh's father, former Yemen President Ali Abdullah Saleh, and two other senior Houthi leaders, Abd al-Khaliq al-Huthi and Abdullah Yahya al Hakim, were blacklisted by the Security Council in November. Yemeni soldiers loyal to the former president are fighting alongside the Houthis.

The draft resolution would impose an arms embargo on the five men and "those acting on their behalf or at their direction in Yemen" - effectively the Houthi and soldiers loyal to Saleh.

The resolution also "calls upon Member States, in particular States neighbouring Yemen, to inspect ... all cargo to Yemen" if they have reasonable grounds to believe it contains weapons destined for the poor Arabian peninsula country.

It demands the Houthis stop fighting, withdraw from areas they have seized, including the capital Sanaa, agree to resolve their differences through dialogue. It also expresses support for U.N. mediator Jamal Benomar.

Russia on Saturday put forward its own draft resolution demanding "regular and obligatory humanitarian pauses in the air strikes by the coalition" to allow for the evacuation of foreigners. The Jordan and Gulf Arab text calls on all parties to facilitate the evacuation of foreigners.

(Reporting by Michelle Nichols; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)

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