Expelling employees from Sana'a, insulting and detaining others. United Nations in the crosshairs of Houthi insults

Since its founding in 1945, the United Nations has not been insulted in a country, as happened in Yemen by the Houthi group.

A few weeks ago, al-Houthi militia expelled the representative of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in Yemen, Al-Obaid Ahmed al-Abed, from Sanaa airport minutes after the plane  on which he was on board landed.

The expulsion of the high-ranking UN official came days after the release of the expert committee's report, which highlighted violations committed by the Houthis, including sexual violence against women in their detention, and this action by the Houthis is not the first, nor will it be the last, it seems.

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The United Nations has several objectives, including peacemaking in countries in armed conflict, a global organization of 193 nations, whose strength is derived from international law and has key organs such as the United Nations Security Council and the International Court of Justice.

In 2011, it established an office of its special envoy to Yemen with the aim of restoring the country to a peaceful political process, supporting the implementation of the Gulf Initiative, the results of the national dialogue and relevant Security Council resolutions.

Yemen's rebel leader, Abdul Malik al-Houthi, has repeatedly attacked the organization, describing it as "a tool in Washington's hands", and his group is carrying the slogan "Death to America,"" but he does not mind dealing with it to serve his goals.

Despite the insults the Houthis have given against her and the obstacles they have erected in her way, they issued a decree last June appointing Um Kulthoum Ali as their delegate at the UN headquarters in America.

On the ground, the Houthi group is defying the international community and does not value international law, as evidenced by its dealings with the United Nations, its representatives and its affiliated organizations over the past years.

* Even "Ben Omar"

The United Nations appointed its special envoy to Yemen, Jamal Ben Omar, in April 2011, and set up an office to manage its efforts to reach a political agreement in the country and end the political crisis that followed the popular uprising.

At the time, the Houthi militia lived in the mountains of Sa'da governorate, offering free services to them, and openly sided with them, and observers describe it as the architect of the fall of the capital Sana'a in 2014.

Despite these free services, he did not escape their insults, and in February 2015, Ben Omar submitted a report to the Security Council, citing the tension that existed between the Marib tribes and the Houthi group, due to the latter's expansion.

The Houthi group did not use this passing signal, and its spokesman, Mohammed Abdul Salam, issued a press statement accusing " Ben Omar " of supporting al-Qaeda.

This accusation is made by someone who worked for them, who faced heavy criticism for siding with them, and because of her being forced to leave office in April 2015, how does the group deal with other envoys?

* Accusations and insults

To succeed Ben Omar, the United Nations appointed Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed as a UN envoy to Yemen in April 2015, and the Houthi group hoped the new envoy would follow his predecessor's policy.

When he briefed the Security Council, the Houthi group did not like his statment, which began to insult him, and in November 2016, he criticized the group's launch of a ballistic missile towards "Mecca", which Mohammed Abdul Salam described as a "media mouthpiece for the countries of aggression."

In February 2017, Ould Cheikh's assistant was expelled from Sana'a airport, despite receiving prior permission to visit, and Houthi leaders came out to bless this behavior, saying that the assistant UN envoy was an "agent."

The surprise was in May 2017, when Ould Cheikh arrived at Sanaa airport as part of a tour to revive the stalled peace consultations, and as his convoy left the airport, al-Houthi militia opened fire on him.

The Houthis launched a media campaign against Ould Cheikh, accusing him of failing and receiving money from Saudi Arabia, refusing to deal with his proposals, and preventing him from visiting Sanaa, according to a UN report published in January 2018.

They  foild his efforts, including three rounds of negotiations in Kuwait and Switzerland, and was forced to leave his post in February 2018, before the end of his official term, and on the same date, the UN appointed a third envoy, Martin Griffiths, to begin a new phase of abuse.

* First dose

Griffiths and the Houthi group have a previous relationship, and he has already visited Yemen and met with them, which is why the group welcomed the decision to appoint him, saying it would be a positive factor in reaching a political settlement.

Despite this friendship, he took the first dose of abuse months after his appointment, specifically in June 2018, where Mohamed Abdeslam said that "Griffiths" became a cover for the continuation of the "aggression", and his role is no different from that of his predecessor.

The second dose was in March 2019, when the group came up with a statement describing Griffiths as the English envoy, in response to a statement by British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt calling for the Houthi withdrawal from Hodeidah.

Griffiths is still waiting for the rest of the doses, and his biggest theoretical achievement so far is the Stockholm Agreement, announced in December 2018, which has turned into a means of insulting the United Nations.

The agreement resulted in the formation of a committee to monitor and coordinate the redeployment of troops in Hodeidah province, chaired by Dutch General Patrick Kammert, in December 2018.

One month later, Patrick resigned after his convoy came under fire from the Houthi group, due to the chronic mechanism he had put in place and the redeployment process, and the group attacked him by saying that the implementation of the Swedish agreement was bigger than him.

In January 2019, Danish General Michael Lolisgaard was appointed to head the commission, which he recently left after a series of Houthi abuses that included detaining him more than once and preventing his movements.

The Indian general appointed "Abahijit Joha" as the third chairman of the UN monitoring committee this month, and began his duties by inviting the signatories of the Swedish agreement to hold a meeting, which the Houthis failed to convene for the day.

Last Sunday, the Houthi militia prevented a UN team headed by Joha from leaving their headquarters in the ship anchored at sea, and completing the deployment of liaison officers on the lines of contact in Hodeidah.

* Prevention and arrests

Houthi insults are not limited to envoys, but also to UN organizations, officials and staff, and the United Nations is meeting these ongoing abuses with silence as a sign of complacency.

In October 2015, U.S. Houthi militia, Mark McCallister and John Haymen, were arrested shortly before they left Sana'a airport on suspicion of "espionage" activity while working for the United Nations.

Al-Houthi militia detained a delegation from the UN office in Yemen at an entrance to city of Taiz in July 2016, preventing it from entering to discuss the opening of a safe humanitarian corridor for the city, which has been besieged since 2015.

In October 2016, a UN delegation led by Julian Harnis, UNICEF's country director, was prevented from entering Taiz to see the health situation.

The Houthis prevented UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Stephen O'Brien from entering Taiz in February 2017, justifying the ban with fear for his safety.

Al-Houthi militia kidnapped a UN staff member in Sana'a after he left his workplace at the UN's International Organization for Migration (IOM) office in January 2018.

In June 2018, it stormed a WFP center in Hodeidah, looted its contents, arrested employees, calling it a "war crime, contrary to international and humanitarian laws."

In September 2018, al-Houthi militia kidnapped an IOM employee in Sana'a and prevented a UN plane from landing at Sanaa airport to transport relatives of former President Saleh.

In December 2018, she arrested a staff member of the UN High Commissioner for Al-Hodeidah and prevented a delegation from the food program headed by Deputy Director Ali Reza from entering Taiz.

The Houthis prevented a UN team from reaching the floating oil reservoir off the coast of Hodeidah for maintenance last September, despite their commitment to allow it, and despite the environmental risks of an imminent explosion.

* UN sanctions

Thus, there are bans and arrests, sometimes followed by allowing and releasing in exchange, and international organizations acknowledge these abuses, but refuse to move their headquarters to Yemen’s interim capital, Aden, and continue to operate from Sana'a under the supervision of an armed militia.

The unspoken UN slogan "The more you offend us, the more we support you," as the Houthi militia realized, as the Yemeni street awaits the UN's decisions to win its dignity and reputation, the more it is surprised by honoring the Houthis.

Last May, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) handed over 20 mine vehicles to the Houthis, who are largely and indiscriminately mined, and in populated areas as a war crime.

In April 2019, UNDP supported al-Houthi's prisons with 7,000 pieces of sleeping mattresses, instead of pressing for the release of the abductees, the fate of the mattresses is unknown.

The list of UN support for the Houthis is long, including signing agreements with the internationally recognized Houthi government to legitimize it, and providing their credentials to the United Nations organizations.

Observers say this support fuels an armed insurgency against Yemeni legitimacy, puts the credibility of the United Nations to the test, encourages the Houthis to reject peace efforts, continue the war and prolong the suffering of Yemenis.

At a meeting in September 2018, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation warned that the Houthi group would "perpetuate the coup d'état in Yemen."


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