As the United Nations celebrates its annual commemorative day, former Yemeni Ambassador Mustapha Noman defended the world body’s role in his country, wracked by years of civil war.
Speaking to Anadolu Agency, Noman, a former diplomat who served in a number of countries including Canada and Spain, said the UN has been trying to move “the conflict from the battlefield to the negotiating table.”
“The UN has succeeded in keeping the Yemeni crisis present on the agenda of the international community,” he said. “However, the measurements of success and failure on the ground are related to the desire of Yemen’s warring parties, not the UN.”
UN Day marks the Oct. 24, 1945 birthday of the world body, when the UN Charter entered into force.
Admitting the UN failure to “gain any successful achievements that it can be praised for or even referred to” in the past seven years in Yemen, Noman said “the UN does not have a military power to impose any solutions or agreements on Yemen, unless the concerned parties are convinced, agreed to, and willing to do so.”
“The ones who failed to stop the war are the Yemenis and the Saudi-led Arab coalition. In fact, it is the Yemeni belligerents who are concerned with stopping the war, not the UN nor the world.”
Yemen has been engulfed by violence and instability since 2014, when Iranian-aligned Houthi rebels captured much of the country, including the capital Sanaa.
A Saudi-led coalition aimed at reinstating the Yemeni government has worsened the situation and caused one of the world’s worst man-made humanitarian crises, with 233,000 people killed, nearly 80% or about 30 million needing humanitarian assistance and protection, and more than 13 million in danger of starvation, according to UN estimates.
- Unlawful accusations
In a video message celebrating UN Day, Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said the world body was “created as a vehicle of hope for a world emerging from the shadow of catastrophic conflict.”
“We need to come together to tackle great challenges and advance the (UN) Sustainable Development Goals …. by seeking an end to the conflicts that scar our world,” he said.
Noman dismissed accusations that the UN had prolonged the war in Yemen as “unfair and unsubstantiated.”
“It is immoral to accuse the UN of intentionally prolonging the war, while the Yemeni war merchants are the real beneficiaries of the bleeding and destruction inflicted on the country,” he said.
“The biggest failure in Yemen is caused by the Yemenis, not by the United Nations,” he insisted.
The former Yemeni diplomat said he recognized that UN envoys had failed to make any significant achievements in Yemen during the past seven years.
In a May 2019 a letter to Guterres, Yemeni President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi accused former UN envoy Martin Griffiths of siding with Houthi rebels and undermining chances for peace.
Surprisingly, the Houthis have also accused Griffiths of being biased towards the Saudi-led coalition, accusing the UN of being unable to present a political vision to end the coalition’s blockade on Yemen.
Nevertheless, Noman said that the UN envoys were not to blame for any failure in Yemen as they are “bound to the interests of the five major countries on the UN Security Council.”
“I assure that the Yemeni leaders are the real obstructionists, as they are not serious and unwilling to stop the war because ending the war may undermine their personal interests,” he said.