Riyadh and Sana’a, Asharq Al-Awsat—The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) has called on the UN to take immediate action to end the crisis currently gripping Yemen, at the same time that two Gulf states joined the growing list of countries pulling their diplomats out of the country.
In a statement released on Saturday following an extraordinary meeting of GCC foreign ministers in Riyadh, the organization called on the UN Security Council “to make a decision under Chapter Seven of the United Nations Charter” to resolve the political impasse in the country, where the Shi’ite Houthi movement now holds sway since its power grab earlier this month.
Chapter Seven of the UN Charter 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 GCC views the Houthis’ recent moves as a coup undertaken via force of arms.
The Houthi movement, also known as Ansar Allah, has sought to expand its presence and influence Yemen since September, when it took control of the country’s capital Sana’a following a month-long series of mass protests and sit-ins by its members and supporters.
Earlier this month, Houthi fighters placed Yemen’s outgoing president Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi under virtual house arrest, prompting him and his government to resign.
After fruitless negotiations with other parties over how to fill the power vacuum, the Houthis announced that they had formed a Revolutionary Committee to administer the country, and prepare a new parliament and interim presidential council.
The GCC also warned on Saturday that if the crisis in Yemen continued, its members may take “necessary measures” to protect their interests in the country.
In his opening speech at the GCC meeting, Qatari Foreign Minister Khalid Bin Mohammed Al-Attiyah said the situation in the country was at its most dangerous since the uprising in 2011 which ousted former president Ali Abdullah Saleh.
He called for the immediate release of Hadi and other government figures held by the Houthis.
Meanwhile, the EU said on Saturday it was “deeply saddened” that president Hadi, prime minister [Khaled] Bahah and other government ministers” remained in detention and called for an “immediate end to these house arrests,” and for the Houthi movement to return Yemen to the political road map outlined by the UN, the EU and Gulf states in 2011.
Speaking to Asharq Al-Awsat on Saturday, Faris Al-Saqqaf, a former adviser to Hadi, said the Houthis were now “completely isolated” both within Yemen and internationally, and called on the movement to “reassess its position.”
Meanwhile, Gulf states Saudi Arabia and the UAE both shut down their embassies and pulled their ambassadors out of Yemen on Saturday, citing the security situation in the country. They join a growing list of other countries, including the US, UK, Italy and Germany, who have halted all diplomatic work in Yemen in recent weeks.
Arafat Madabish contributed reporting from Sana’a.