Russia has laid the groundwork for a likely veto on Monday of a British, the U.S. and French bid for the United Nations Security Council to call out Iran over its weapons falling into the hands of Yemen’s Houthi group, Reuters reports.
Negotiations continued on Sunday over a UN Security Council vote slated for Monday morning on a British-drafted resolution that would commit to future action against Tehran and condemn Iran for providing missiles and drones to the Houthi rebels in Yemen. However, over the weekend Russia submitted a rival text, aimed at blocking action against Iran.
The 15-member Security Council has to renew its targeted sanctions on Yemen on Monday. Russia has proposed a rival resolution that would simply extend the mandate of the regime for one year and not mention Iran.
The United States has been lobbying for months for Iran to be held accountable at the United Nations, while at the same time threatening to quit a 2015 deal among world powers to curb Iran’s nuclear program if “disastrous flaws” are not fixed.
Britain drafted a resolution in consultation with the United States and France that initially wanted to condemn Iran for violating an arms embargo on Houthi leaders and include a council commitment to take action over it. The latest British draft drops the condemnation and instead expresses concern that UN experts monitoring the sanctions reported Iran had violated a targeted arms embargo by failing to stop missiles and unmanned aerial vehicles reaching the Houthis.
A UN Security Council resolution needs nine votes in favor and no vetoes by Russia, China, the United States, France or Britain to pass. Both resolutions seek to renew a UN ban on the supply of weapons to Houthi leaders and “those acting on their behalf or at their direction.” It can also blacklist individuals and entities for threatening the peace and stability of Yemen or hindering aid access.
U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley took her Security Council colleagues to Washington in January to view pieces of missiles fired by the Houthis at Saudi Arabia in a bid to boost the U.S. case against Iran.
Russian UN Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia said after the visit that he does not believe there is a case for United Nations action against Iran. Diplomats said Russia could veto the British text, allowing for a vote on its own draft resolution. The Russian version proposes to extend the sanctions against Yemen, ut makes no mention of the UN report’s findings on Iran and possible action targeting Tehran. It maintains the UN’s findings on the origins of the Houthi missiles are inconclusive.
Iran has described the arms displayed in Washington as “fabricated.”
A proxy war is playing out in Yemen between Iran and U.S. ally Saudi Arabia. A Saudi-led coalition intervened in Yemen in 2015, backing government forces fighting Iran-allied Houthi rebels. Iran has denied supplying the Houthis weapons.
Yemen has been engulfed by civil war since 2015, when the Houthis clashed with forces loyal to government of Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi. A multinational coalition led by Saudi Arabia intervened in March 2015, and Saudi-led airstrikes have been met by sporadic missile attacks from Houthi forces at Saudi Arabia.
This month, independent experts from the UN found that ballistic missiles fired from Yemen into Saudi Arabia in 2017 were made in Iran and introduced into Yemen after the 2015 arms embargo. Tehran has denied sending weapons. The UN embargo was accompanied by a demand that the Houthis, who control the capital, Sana’a, “immediately and unconditionally end violence, withdraw forces from areas they have seized, [and] relinquish all arms” and respect the legitimate government.
Since the war began more than 10,000 people have been killed, the World Health Organization has recorded over a million cases of cholera, and 130 children are estimated to die of starvation every day.
On Sunday, medical sources said a mother and three of her children have died of their wounds from a double suicide bombing outside the headquarters of an anti-terror unit in Yemen’s port city of Aden, bringing the death toll to 12. Saturday’s attack was claimed by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).