Yemen announces new cabinet amid sanctions

Published November 9th, 2014 - 09:08 GMT

Yemeni President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi announced the long-awaited formation of a new government as the UN imposed sanctions on his predecessor Ali Abdullah Saleh and two senior Houthi rebels over the recent unrest in the country.

Yemen’s new government, led by Prime Minister Khaled Al-Bahah, includes a number of ministers affiliated with the Shi’ite Houthi movement and the southern Hirak movement. It is hoped that this new unity government will put an end to the unrest Yemen has been experiencing as Houthi fighters advance through a number of provinces in the country. The Houthi ministerial portfolios include civil service and social affairs.

Yemen’s former envoy to the UN Abdullah Al-Saydi has been appointed as foreign minister, while senior military commander Mahmoud Al-Subaihy is to be defense minister. Mohammed Bin Nabhan of the southern secessionist Hirak movement takes over Yemen’s oil ministry while former intelligence chief Gen. Jalal Al-Rawishan is the new interior minister.

The announcement of Yemen’s new government came just a few hours before the UN Security Council unanimously voted to impose sanctions on former president Ali Abdullah Saleh and senior Houthi military leaders Abd Al-Khaliq Al-Houthi and Abdullah Yahya Al-Hakim for threatening peace and stability in Yemen. The sanctions include a global travel ban and an asset freeze.

The General People’s Congress party, founded by Saleh, announced that it had dismissed Hadi from the leadership of the party, accusing the president of soliciting UN sanctions against the former president. The Gulf Initiative secured Saleh’s exit from power in Yemen in 2012, with his deputy Hadi taking over the presidency.

In February, the UN Security Council passed a resolution authorizing sanctions against any party or individual obstructing Yemen’s political transition but stopped short of blacklisting any specific individuals or groups. The US submitted a formal request for sanctions to be enacted against Saleh and the Houthi leaders earlier this week, citing the deteriorating situation in the country.

Washington has accused the former president of backing the Houthi rebels in order to destabilize the country. “As of fall 2012, Ali Abdullah Saleh had reportedly become one of the primary supporters of the Houthi rebellion,” Washington said in a statement issued to Yemen’s sanctions committee.

The statement, obtained by Reuters, added that Saleh was “inciting instability in Yemen by using the Houthi dissident group to not only delegitimize the central government, but also create enough instability to stage a coup.”

A US State Department official, in comments to Asharq Al-Awsat, denied that Washington was playing catch up and had made a mistake by not preventing the Houthis from advancing into Sana’a.

“The situation in Yemen is complicated and we want to take deliberate, not tentative, action,” the official said.

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