Yemen ex-President, His Allies to Face UN Sanctions

Five high-profile Yemenis, including former president Ali Abdullah Saleh, may face UN-imposed sanctions for derailing the country's transition
Five high-profile Yemenis, including former president Ali Abdullah Saleh, may face UN-imposed sanctions for derailing the country’s transition

By Al Jazeera,

AL JAZEERA has learned that the UN is preparing to impose sanctions on five high-profile Yemenis including the former president Ali Abdullah Saleh.

A UN panel of experts found that the individuals had been undermining Yemen’s democratic transition. Three of those named are leaders of the Houthi rebel group that has seized large parts of the country over the last month. 

Saleh, whose 33-year reign ended in 2012 after a popular uprising, has been accused of using Yemen’s ongoing crisis to re-establish his influence over the country’s politics.

His powerful son Ahmed Ali. who was the brigadier-general in charge of the Republican Guard before he was named the ambassador to the UAE, is also to be sanctioned, Arab diplomats who have seen the report prepared by the UN panel told Al Jazeera.

The three Houthis listed are the group’s leader Abdulmalik al-Houthi, his brother Abdulkhaleq al-Houthi and military leader Abu Ali al-Hakem.

HIDDEN ALLIANCE 

Some Yemenis say there is a hidden alliance between the Houthis and Saleh, who belongs to the Shia Zaidi sect that the Houthis hail from.

Without the backing of Saleh, some observers say, the Houthis would not have been able to take the capital and other parts of the country.

The Houthis, who now control the capital Sanaa and several other provinces, hail from the northern highlands and are increasingly imposing their authority outside the capital as well as in it.

Al Jazeera’s Diplomatic Editor James Bays, at the UN headquarters, said that sanctioning Saleh’s son would be controversial since he has diplomatic immunity as an ambassador.

Bays said it would also be problematic to sanction the Houthi leaders, because they are so important, both politically and militarily.

“In the short term, it could make things worse rather than better,” he said. “If you’re trying to get any political reconciliation to happen, it will be important to have them onboard”.

The UN Security Council in February authorised sanctions against anyone in Yemen who obstructs the country’s political transition or commits human rights violations but stopped short of blacklisting any specific individuals.

Our correspondent said the UN Committee 2140 could decide on the sanctions as early as in the coming week.

On the ground in Yemen, renewed fighting between Houthis and Sunni tribesmen backed by al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) killed dozens of people.

Sources told Al Jazeera that 67 Houthis were killed in attacks as they advanced into Radaa – a mixed Sunni-Shia town that is an al-Qaeda stronghold.