What role does the UN have in Yemen?

Abdullah bin Bijad Al-Otaibi

Published: Updated:

Ever since the beginning of Operation Decisive Storm in Yemen and the Arab Coalition’s confrontation of the Iranian incursions there and of the Houthis and their armed militias, the role of the UN has been ambiguous in comprehending the crisis and its dimensions.

The same case is true with the international envoys, be it the Moroccan Gamal Ben Omar, the Mauritanian Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed or the British Martin Griffith, as well as UN institutions.

The most recent act that reflects this lack of proper understanding of the crisis by UN institutions is evident from the human rights experts’ report which was issued last week and which fully adopted all the false charges made by the Iranian Houthi militia and which shamefully ignored all of the militias’ clearly documented and recorded crimes. Moreover, the report deals with this invading militia as an internationally recognized legitimate entity.

The logic on which this report was based ignores basic principles in terms of understanding international conflicts. If every terrorist militia that takes control of a country’s capital has the right to be considered an internationally recognized entity, then the world as we know it would turn upside down

Abdullah bin Bijad Al-Otaibi

Lack of understanding

The lack of proper understanding has thus resulted in inadequate handling of the situation. The international envoys’ stances and some UN institutions and their reports show that they are living in a world different from the one which people live in and which the media broadcasts daily about from Yemen.

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It exposes sheer ignorance about conflicts in the region or even intentional ignorance. The mere belief that the Houthi militia is a national Yemeni group is a great illusion and it misguides the international public opinion. It is as misleading as the notion that the Lebanese terrorist Hezbollah is a national force and has nothing to do with Iran’s expansionist projects.

The logic on which this report was based ignores basic principles in terms of understanding international conflicts. If every terrorist militia that takes control of a country’s capital has the right to be considered an internationally recognized entity, then the world as we know it would turn upside down. So if ISIS takes control over Damascus, will the UN deal with it as a legitimate entity? Or if Al-Qaeda takes control over Baghdad, will it become a legitimate entity?

The report tried to hide its clear bias by employing the plural form as it intends to look neutral and suggest that “everyone is guilty”, which is totally unfair. The Arab Coalition engaged in the war in Yemen to defeat Iran’s sectarian terrorist project, which is part of its expansion policy. Iran’s project also imposes influence that defies UN principles.

This project violates the states’ sovereignty and interferes in their internal affairs through terrorist militias and organizations and spreads destruction wherever it can. The omission of this facet and overlooking it makes this report biased towards one party over the other.

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As the victories of the Arab Coalition in Yemen increase and come closer to putting an end to the conflict and to rescuing Yemen and having the government and state impose its influence over the entire of Yemen, UN figures and entities adopt positions and policies that act as a lifeline to the Houthi militia. Unfortunately, this is a permanent approach which, along with its causes and motives, must be studied.

Friendly savior

The war in Yemen was not a Saudi, Emirati or even Arab option. It was a necessary war, which was provoked by the efforts of Iran and its allies in the region, from Qatar to Turkey, to control Yemen via the power of militias and their terror. If it hadn’t been for this just, significant and strategic war, the situation in Yemen and the Gulf would have been ten times worse than it currently is, and they would have been besieged from the north and south by terrorist militias causing systematic destruction which the region’s countries would have shield themselves from its evils for decades.

The Arab Coalition was established according to the UN resolution to confront this existential challenge in Yemen. It fought the war alongside the legitimate government and its army and the Yemeni people and their resistance. The Arab Coalition has abided by the highest international war standards with every step it takes.

It fully respected international laws and human rights. The Coalition entered as a savior friend not as a brutal occupier. It could have been capable of ending the war within a few days but it did not do so for the sake of its brothers in Yemen and the country’s infrastructure. This has been repeatedly stated by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

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The problem with these international institutions’ reports is that they grant legitimacy to other human rights, media and civil society organizations to launch intended defaming and paid campaigns, bearing in mind a state like Qatar that believes that only money can buy everybody’s conscience.

Some believe it has succeeded in luring a number of these human rights, media and civil institutions in Western countries and that relations between them became obvious and well-known, hence these institutions lost much of their credibility and prestige. This is the preferred Qatari method; paying bribes starting from the World Cup to funding Iran and the Houthis, to attacking the four boycotting countries.

Addressing the imbalance

The statement issued by Arab Coalition said: “The report was conducted with many methodological fallacies and its description of the facts of the conflict, which was characterized by lack of objectivity, especially when dealing with the parties to the conflict in Yemen and attempts to take full responsibility of the Coalition countries on the conflict in Yemen, ignoring the real reasons for this conflict falls under the coup of the Houthi militias backed by Iran to the legitimate government Yemen, and its rejection of all United Nations-led peace efforts.”

In addition, the report completely ignores the amount of the financial aid provided to the Yemeni state and people by Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Kuwait in the given circumstances.

Wars are not a walk in the park. They are the toughest and last solution. It’s on the basis of this premise that international laws that govern wars were established. “War has its agony. Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria are evidence to that. However, in the end we are responsible for our security and stability. These are our priorities,” Minister Anwar Gargash has affirmed.

In the end, we can say a lot about the flaws in many international institutions and their inability to take the right position for several reasons. This biased report would be added to these flaws which must be mended.

This article is also available in Arabic.


Abdullah bin Bijad al-Otaibi is a Saudi writer and researcher. He is a member of the board of advisors at Al-Mesbar Studies and Research Center. He tweets under @abdullahbjad.

Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not reflect Al Arabiya English's point-of-view.