Remarks at a UN Security Council Briefing on the Situation in Yemen (via VTC)

Ambassador Richard Mills
Deputy Permanent Representative
U.S. Mission to the United Nations
New York, New York
January 14, 2021


Thank you, Mr. President. I want to thank the briefers and my colleagues for this important discussion today. I particularly want to thank our briefers for their willingness to be frank and to share their honest views with the Council, and especially with the United States today. I’ll have more to say on that in a minute.

I think, though, that given what we’ve just heard, it’s important that I begin by saying the United States remains committed to working with our international partners and the Yemeni government to bring peace and security to Yemen. We must not allow this war to continue indefinitely, and I know the Council fully agrees that this conflict cannot, and must not, become normalized. There’s no military solution to the conflict, and we definitely support all efforts to bring the parties to a political consensus.

I have to say, though, that the U.S. view is that it is sad, but true, that the political process, which has now been ongoing for many years, has produced limited results – despite the heroic efforts of the Special Envoy and his team. That compelled the United States to believe it had to look at additional steps to further the political process, without which, we agree, there will be no resolution in Yemen.

So, as we’ve heard, to that end, Secretary Pompeo on January 10 did announce his intent to designate Ansarallah as a Foreign Terrorist Organization under U.S. law. The Secretary took these actions because Ansarallah engages in terrorist activity, terrorism, including attacks threatening civilian populations, infrastructure, and commercial activities. Members of this Council, I know, are well aware of these reprehensible acts.

The United States is the largest global humanitarian donor, and we understand, we recognize, we hear the concerns that this designation will have an impact on the humanitarian situation in Yemen. As such, as Secretary Pompeo indicated, we are planning to put in place measures to reduce the impact of the designation on certain humanitarian activities and commercial imports into Yemen. I want to reiterate, that we have expressed our readiness, our willingness, to work with the UN, international and non-governmental organizations, and other international donors to address those implications. Those conversations have begun and are continuing.

As we heard, as part of this effort, we will simultaneously, with the implementation of the designations on January 19, have the Department of Treasury be prepared to provide licenses pursuant to its legal authorities related to the official activities of the United States government in Yemen. These activities include our assistance programming funded by us, as well as our contributions – and I would remark, we are the largest donor, we have a very important interest in seeing this unfolds correctly – as well as to ensure the official activities of other international organizations, such as the UN, continue.

Let me say, at this point, I’ve heard, with great respect, the comments that have come from the Executive Director, Mr. Beasley, from the Under-Secretary-General, from the Special Envoy. I want to ensure that everyone in this Council and our briefers, that their views, their concerns, are informing how we approach the designation implementation, and we are listening. But we do believe that this step is the right move forward to send the right signal if we want the political process to move forward.

Let me add, at this point, that the United States joins the others on this Council in condemning the attacks in Aden on December 30. I know we are all deeply saddened by the loss of life and the United States expresses our sympathies to the families of those who were killed. As others have said, this horrific attack took place at a time when there ought to have been celebrating Yemeni cabinet officials returning to Aden. Instead, we heard about the tragic deaths. The Yemeni and Saudi governments, as well as multiple experts, have directly tied this attack to Ansarallah. And we believe and note the UK’s comments and strongly support them.

I conclude by saying, we are encouraged that the Houthis have finally agreed to the scope of work for the UN’s Safer assessment mission and that UNOPS is planning to deploy the team in the coming months. We must now ensure that this assessment actually takes place and puts an end to months of the Houthis stalling. We urge the Houthis to ensure the assessment moves forward in a timely manner.

Again, let me reiterate, we know that Yemen currently faces the world’s largest humanitarian crisis. So, the United States reiterates the importance of humanitarian actors being able to conduct their work to deliver life-saving assistance, and we call on all parties to the conflict to respect international humanitarian law. The Houthis, in particular, continue to obstruct aid and use it as a political tool, causing undue and immense harm to Yemeni citizens. It is critical that aid reach those in need, reliably and quickly, and we call on all parties to support relief efforts while also isolating and exposing Ansarallah for the terrorist organization that it is.

Again, let me end by saying, my deep thanks for the briefers and their presentations today, and I look forward to further discussion with Council colleagues.

Thank you.