Just Security published an op-ed today by YPP executive director Will Picard, warning of the dangers of a deal currently being negotiated in secret that could return former president Ali Abdullah Saleh to power. Saleh was ousted in late 2011, after a lengthy popular uprising and a schism within the regime. In 2014 he allied himself with the Houthi movement to orchestrate a coup, sparking the ongoing civil war in Yemen. While the UN-led peace process has stalled, it appears that that the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia are negotiating with Saleh's party to form a new government and end the Gulf states' military intervention. The new government would reportedly include Saleh's son and other members of the pro-Saleh branch of Yemen's ruling GPC party.
Yesterday the United Nations Security Council voted to approve Resolution 2140, which you can read in full right here. There's a lot of fairly standard stuff in the resolution about how the UNSC supports Yemen's democratic transition, but the important part starts at paragraph 10, under the heading "Further Measures." Bottom line: after two years of threatening to do so, the UNSC is finally establishing a framework by which to impose sanctions on specific individuals who are obstructing Yemen's political process. In more detail:
11. Decides that all Member States shall, for an initial period of one year from the date of the adoption of this resolution, freeze without delay all funds, other financial assets and economic resources which are on their territories, which are owned or controlled, directly or indirectly, by the individuals or entities designated by the Committee established pursuant to paragraph 19 below, or by individuals or entities acting on their behalf or at their direction, or by entities owned or controlled by them, and decides further that all Member States shall ensure that any funds, financial assets or economic resources are prevented from being made available by their nationals or by any individuals or entities within their territories, to or for the benefit of the individuals or entities designated by the Committee;
15. Decides that, for an initial period of one year from the date of the adoption of this resolution, all Member States shall take the necessary measures to prevent the entry into or transit through their territories of individuals designated by the Committee established pursuant to paragraph 19 below, provided that nothing in this paragraph shall oblige a State to refuse its own nationals entry into its territory;
17. Decides that the provisions of paragraphs 11 and 15 shall apply to individuals or entities designated by the Committee as engaging in or providing support for acts that threaten the peace, security or stability of Yemen;
“18. Underscores that such acts as described in paragraph 17 above may include, but are not limited to:
(a) Obstructing or undermining the successful completion of the political transition, as outlined in the GCC Initiative and Implementation Mechanism Agreement;
(b) Impeding the implementation of the outcomes of the final report of the comprehensive National Dialogue Conference through violence, or attacks on essential infrastructure; or
(c) Planning, directing, or committing acts that violate applicable international human rights law or international humanitarian law, or acts that constitute human rights abuses, in Yemen;
“19. Decides to establish, in accordance with rule 28 of its provisional rules of procedure, a Committee of the Security Council consisting of all the members of the Council (herein “the Committee”), to undertake to following tasks:
(a) To monitor implementation of the measures imposed in paragraph 11 and 15 above with a view to strengthening, facilitating and improving implementation of these measures by Member States;
(b) To seek and review information regarding those individuals and entities who may be engaging in the acts described in paragraph 17 and 18 above;
(c) To designate individuals and entities to be subject to the measures imposed in paragraphs 11 and 15 above;
(d) To establish such guidelines as may be necessary to facilitate the implementation of the measures imposed above;
(e) To report within 60 days to the Security Council on its work and thereafter to report as deemed necessary by the Committee;
So basically, 2140 sets up a committee to designate the individual trouble-makers ("spoilers," in political-speak). That committee will also decide the specifics of sanctions to be applied to each spoiler, but in general we're talking about a freeze on all assets belonging to spoilers held in UNSC-member states and a ban on travel to or through UNSC-member states. As for who is going to be targeted by these sanctions, former President Saleh is probably at the top of the list. Foreign diplomats have also in the past suggested that Hirak leader 'Ali Salim al-Beidh be sanctioned. We'll have to wait and see who else makes the cut, but you can find a wide variety of conjectures and conspiracy theories on the subject on social media and in the Yemeni press.
Sanctions are tricky, and they don't usually achieve the desired effect right away. Naturally, Yemeni politicians (including the spoilers) are trying to spin the resolution to their own benefit. They're also probably squirreling away as much cash as they can, and coming up with new ways to make trouble.
What do you think about the proposed sanctions regime? Is is a good idea? Will it backfire? Share your thoughts in the comments.