Saudi Arabia rejects all-inclusive arms embargo on Yemen proposed by Russia

Reuters / Eduardo Munoz
Saudi Arabia has rejected Russia’s amendments to a Security Council draft resolution which would see an all-inclusive arms embargo on all parties in the Yemeni conflict, as it continues to spiral out of control with civilian death toll climbing up.

TIMELINE: Gulf coalition airstrikes against Houthi rebels in Yemen

“There is little point in putting an embargo on the whole country. It doesn’t make sense to punish everybody else for the behavior of one party that has been the aggressor in this situation,”Saudi Arabia’s representative to the UN Abdallah Al-Mouallimi said after a closed emergency UN Security Council meeting on Saturday.

READ MORE: Russia submits draft resolution to UNSC on Yemen crisis amid Saudi-led airstrikes

Al-Mouallimi added that he “hopes” Russia won’t resort to its veto power in case the all-inclusive embargo clause is not added into the draft submitted by the Gulf Cooperation Council that urges an arms embargo only on the Houthis.

At the same time, Riyadh agreed with Moscow’s calls for need of “humanitarian pauses” in the Saudi-led coalition’s air campaign in Yemen – though saying that Saudi Arabia already cooperates fully in this regard.

“We always provided the necessary facilities for humanitarian assistance to be delivered,” Al-Mouallimi told reporter heading out of the meeting. “We have cooperated fully with all requests for evacuation.”

Moscow convened an emergency meeting on a draft resolution demanding “regular and obligatory” breaks in air assaults against Houthi rebels, in which many civilians keep dying in increasing numbers. The Russian-proposed draft circulated on Saturday demanded “rapid, safe and unhindered humanitarian access to ensure that humanitarian assistance reaches people in need.”

READ MORE: Airstrike kills family of nine in Yemen – residents

The current council president and Jordan’s Ambassador Dina Kawar said that the council members “need time” to consider the Russian draft resolution, adding that the talks would continue. “We hope that by Monday we can come up with something,” Kawar said.

The 15-member council is considering the possibly of merging the Russian and Gulf Cooperation Council proposed drafts into one.

The Security Council meeting coincided with the call from the International Committee of the Red Cross for a “humanitarian pause.” The NGO urged to break hostilities for at least 24 hours.

“We urgently need an immediate halt to the fighting, to allow families in the worst affected areas, such as Aden, to venture out to get food and water, or to seek medical care,” said Robert Mardini, head of the ICRC's operations in the Near and Middle East.

Meanwhile intensive airstrikes early Saturday morning targeted Houthi positions near Aden and in the Houthi stronghold of Saada in the north of the country. At least 185 people were left dead and more than 1,200 wounded as a result of fighting in Aden, a medical official told AFP Saturday, three-quarters of them civilians.

A coalition of Arab states, led by Saudi Arabia, has been engaging Houthi militias from the air for over a week now, after the Yemeni President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi was forced to flee the country and asked for an international intervention to reinstate his rule.