UN welcomes Yemen's National Dialogue


The UN Security Council yesterday welcomed Yemen's National Dialogue, after Russian objections (reported here yesterday) were overcome.

The statement issued yesterday names both ex-President Saleh and southern separatist leader Ali Salim al-Baidh in connection with "reports of interference" in Yemen's political transition process. It also rejects southern separatism by reaffirming the Security Council's commitment to "the unity, sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of Yemen".

According to the Kuwait News Agency, Russia had objected to a paragraph in an earlier draft which said:

"The Security Council notes, in particular, persistent allegations against Ali Abdullah Saleh, Ali Salim al-Beidh, and certain individuals and groups that receive money and weapons from outside Yemen for the purpose of undermining the transition."

This was later changed to say:

"The Security Council expresses concern over reports of interference in the transition by individuals in Yemen representing the former regime, the former opposition, and others who do not adhere to the guiding principles of the Implementation Mechanism Agreement for the transition process, including former President Ali Abdullah Saleh and former Vice-President Ali Salim al-Beidh."

The statement issued yesterday (full text here) still mentions the supply of money and weapons, but in a separate paragraph, not linked to Saleh and al-Baidh:

"The Security Council expresses concern over reports of money and weapons being brought into Yemen from outside for the purpose of undermining the transition."

In 1990, as secretary-general of the Socialist Party which then ruled the south, Ali Salim al-Baid (or Beidh or Baidh) led southern Yemen into union with the north. He became vice-president of the unified state but soon fell out with President Saleh.

In 1994, the former southern regime fought, and lost, a brief war of secession and al-Baid went into exile.

During the last few years he has re-emerged as the main figure demanding independence for the south. Several recent reports have described him a "former president" of the south – though he never actually held that post.

Al-Baid, now 73 and not in the best of health, is currently living in Lebanon. There's an interesting profile of him in Executive Magazine by Yemeni writer and activist Farea al-Muslimi.

Lebanon has become a popular outpost for Yemen's warring factions, according to an article on the Lebanese website, NOW. Al-Baid's Aden Live TV channel is based in the Hizbullah stronghold of Dahiyeh, while the Houthis’ al-Massira channel also broadcasts from Beirut, the article says.

Meanwhile, Saleh's nephew is said to be planning a "Saleh Residential City" of 250 houses, built in the Yemeni style, in Burj al-Chemali in southern Lebanon.

Posted by Brian Whitaker, 16 February 2013