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UN demands Houthis surrender power in Yemen
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Yemeni soldiers loyal to the Houthi movement stand guard at the entrance of the presidential palace in the capital Sana'a, on February 16, 2015 (AFP Photo/Mohammed Huwais)

Yemeni soldiers loyal to the Houthi movement stand guard at the entrance of the presidential palace in the capital Sana’a, on February 16, 2015 (AFP Photo/Mohammed Huwais)

Sana’a and Washington, DC, Asharq Al-Awsat—The UN Security Council on Sunday unanimously adopted a resolution demanding the Shi’ite Houthi movement give up power in Yemen, responding to earlier calls from Gulf states for the Council to take decisive action on the crisis currently gripping the country.

In a rare Sunday evening session, Security Council members passed Resolution 2201, which calls for the Houthis to “immediately and unconditionally” withdraw from government and security institutions in the capital, Sana’a.

The Council said the Houthis’ recent actions had “undermined the political transition process in Yemen and jeopardized the country’s stability and unity,” and called on all Yemeni parties and political factions “to engage in good faith” to resolve the situation.

It added that Council members “deplored the unilateral actions taken by the Houthis to dissolve parliament and take over Yemen’s Government institutions.”

Earlier this month, the Shi’ite movement announced a “constitutional declaration,” creating a committee to help form the country’s new parliament and an interim presidential council.

Fighters loyal to the movement had earlier surrounded the homes of Yemen’s president Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi and prime minister Khaled Bahah, putting both men under virtual house arrest. Both resigned shortly after.

The six-member Gulf Cooperation Council on Saturday called for the immediate release of Hadi, Bahah and other political figures held by the Houthis, and also urged the Security Council to take decisive action on the situation in the country.

The GCC called on the UN to act in accordance with Chapter Seven of the UN Charter, which allows for the use of military force in the event of “any threat to the peace, breach of the peace, or act of aggression.”

The new resolution did not, however, stipulate any military action or financial sanctions against the Houthis.

The Council imposed asset freezes and travel bans on senior members of the Houthi movement in November 2014, in response to its takeover of Sana’a two months earlier and amid reports of its ongoing violent takeover of parts of the country.

Mohamed Abdul Salam, the official spokesman for the Houthis, said just hours before the Council’s meeting on Sunday evening that the movement would “not bow to any kind of threat,” also criticizing what he called the GCC’s “unsurprising” comments on Saturday.

“The Yemeni people know full well that the stances taken by some countries are entirely for the benefit of their own political interests and not those of vulnerable peoples,” he said.

Speaking at the Council’s session on Sunday, the UN’s special envoy to Yemen, Jamal Benomar, said the country stood “at a crossroads.”

“Either the country will descend into civil war and disintegration, or the country will find a way to put the transition back on track,” he said. “This largely depends on the political will of Yemeni leaders. They all bear responsibility for the current state of affairs, as well as responsibility for finding a way to pull the country from the brink.”

Mohamed Ali Saleh contributed additional reporting from Washington, DC.