UN Security Council slaps sanctions on Yemen ex-president Saleh
United Nations Security Council - AFP/Stan Honda
AFP

UNITED NATIONS: The U.N. Security Council on Friday imposed sanctions on Yemen’s former president Ali Abdullah Saleh and two allied rebel commanders for threatening peace in the impoverished Arab country.

A U.S. request to impose a visa ban and assets freeze on the deposed leader and the two commanders from the Shiite Huthi movement went into force at 2200 GMT, the Lithuanian chair of the committee said.

The sanctions were imposed after no objections were raised to the measures by any of the 15 members of the council.

Huthi military commanders Abd al-Khaliq al-Huthi and Abdullah Yahya al-Hakim were targeted by the sanctions, but the top leader of the rebel movement, Abdulmalik al-Huthi, was not hit by the measures.

Abd al-Khaliq al-Huthi is the younger brother of the rebel chief and was among the commanders who oversaw the storming of the capital Sanaa in September.

Hakim is Abdulmalik al-Huthi’s military second-in-command.

The decision came after thousands of Saleh and Huthi supporters filled the streets of Sanaa to protest the move to punish the ex-leader, accused of being the main backer of the rebels.

The Huthi military offensive has raised fears that the impoverished country, which is a key US ally in the war against Al-Qaeda, is sliding deeper into chaos with Iran seen as possibly seeking to extend its influence in the mayhem.

“With today’s designations, members of the Security Council have made clear that the international community will not tolerate efforts to use violence to thwart the legitimate aspirations of the Yemeni people and their ongoing political transition,” said a US official.

- Saleh accused of coup plotting -

In a letter to the committee, the United States said Saleh “was behind the attempts to cause chaos throughout Yemen ” by using the Huthi group to “not only delegitimize the central government, but also create enough instability to stage a coup.”

The United States referred to a panel of experts report that said Saleh had resorted to Al-Qaeda operatives to carry out assassinations and attacks in a bid to weaken his successor President Abdrabuh Mansur Hadi.

The letter also said that Abdullah Yahya al-Hakim had plotted in June to stage a coup against Hadi in meetings with tribal chieftains, security commanders and other figures loyal to Saleh.

Yemen on Friday announced a new 36-member government intended to pull the country out of political crisis, the state news agency Saba said.

Formation of the new cabinet under a peace deal agreed on September 21, the day Shiite Huthi rebels seized the capital, had been delayed because of tensions between the rebels and their political rivals.

“All of Yemen’s communities have important roles to play in Yemen’s peaceful political transition and should be represented in the government,” said the US official.

“This action signals the commitment of the international community to support an inclusive Yemeni process and seek to prevent individual interests from derailing the goals of a nation,” he added.

Saleh served as Yemen’s first president after unification in 1990 before being forced to step down in February 2012 under a regional peace plan.

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