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Security Council Debates Consequences of US-UK Actions in Yemen

Photo Credit: UN Photo/Manuel Elías

By: ATN News

In the aftermath of air strikes on Houthi sites in Yemen by the United States and the United Kingdom on January 11, a senior United Nations official has emphasized the urgent need for restraint, citing a concerning "cycle of violence." The strikes were carried out a day after the UN Security Council adopted a resolution urging the Houthis to cease their attacks on merchant and commercial vessels.

Photo Credit: UN Photo/Manuel Elías

Khaled Khiari, Assistant Secretary-General for the Middle East, Asia, and the Pacific, expressed deep concern over the situation, noting that the military forces of the United States and the United Kingdom, with support from Australia, Bahrain, Canada, and the Netherlands, reportedly conducted over 50 air and missile strikes across Yemen. These strikes were in response to continued Houthi targeting of vessels in the Red Sea.

Khiari warned that the escalating violence poses severe political, security, economic, and humanitarian repercussions in Yemen and the region. The fragile humanitarian improvements in the country are at risk, and any progress toward a political settlement to end the war in Yemen could be undermined, leaving the population to suffer the consequences of prolonged conflict.

Highlighting the potential impact on millions in Yemen and beyond, Khiari called on all concerned parties to exercise restraint and avoid further escalation. He stressed the importance of ensuring the safety and security of maritime navigation in the region.

In the subsequent debate, the countries involved in the strikes defended their actions as necessary and proportionate. The United States justified the strikes as disrupting and degrading the Houthis' ability to continue their attacks, citing the right to self-defense under Article 51 of the UN Charter.

The United Kingdom echoed this stance, emphasizing the need to minimize risks to civilians.

However, there were divergent views in the Security Council. Russia challenged the application of the right to self-defense to commercial shipping, emphasizing that freedom of navigation is governed by the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. The Russian delegate criticized the military approach and urged alternatives to bombing.

Delegates from Japan, Mozambique, and Switzerland expressed various concerns, ranging from the seizure of vessels and crew to the misinterpretation of the resolution and the potential for reckless military actions. They called for addressing underlying tensions and finding diplomatic solutions rather than resorting to military measures.

China, emphasizing the precarious situation in the Middle East, called for calm and restraint, stating that the latest military actions risk undermining the ongoing political process in Yemen. The representative highlighted that the Council never authorized any state to use force, urging against reckless military adventurism at this critical stage.


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