Top diplomat Jamal Benomar will no longer be in charge of Yemen. The United Nations plans to announce a successor soon.
Resigns: Jamal Benomar. Picture: dpa
In the midst of the bloody power struggle over Yemen, the responsible UN special envoy Jamal Benomar resigns from office. The United Nations made the announcement on Wednesday. Benomar had expressed interest in a new assignment after four years, it said. His successor will be announced soon, he said. Because of a lack of progress in efforts to find a peace solution for embattled Yemen, criticism of Benomar had recently been voiced, especially from Saudi Arabia, Yemen’s northern neighbor.
The kingdom is currently leading a military coalition against the Huthi rebels active in Yemen. Air strikes are intended to halt the advance of Shiite insurgents who have driven Yemen’s internationally recognized President Abed Rabbo Mansur Hadi to flight.
The UN would leave no stone unturned to get the peace process back on track, the statement on Benomar’s resignation continued. But that task has become more difficult than ever as the battle for bitterly poor Yemen has turned into a proxy conflict between Saudi Arabia and its Sunni allies on the one hand, and predominantly Shiite Iran on the other, which supports the Huthi rebels. More than 700 people have been killed since the airstrikes began.
With the recent strengthening of the Huthi insurgents, pressure on Benomar also grew. Just last week, Saudi Arabia’s U.N. Ambassador Abdallah Al-Muallimi hinted at the departure of Morocco’s top diplomat. "We continue to support whoever the U.N. secretary-general appoints as the special envoy’s mission, and yes, for now that is Jamal Benomar," Al-Muallimi told reporters.
In 2011, Benomar had been tasked with helping Yemen emerge from the chaos that followed the Arab Spring into a peaceful period of transition. At times, the country was even praised as a political model. But the UN now acknowledged in the statement that "unfortunately, this process has been interrupted" by the dramatic escalation of violence.