The United Nations security council has agreed to the deployment of UN monitors to observe the implementation of a ceasefire in the Yemeni port of Hodeidah.
A UK-drafted resolution supporting the ceasefire, agreed in Stockholm, is expected to be adopted on Friday afternoon and will be the first UN resolution on Yemen in more than three years.
However, the resolution was only agreed after it was stripped of much the language on guaranteeing humanitarian deliveries and the need for accountability for war crimes. The edits were on the insistence of the US mission, reflecting the views from the Saudi and Emirati coalition, which has resisted any UN constraints on its operations in Yemen.
When diplomats reconvened at dawn on Friday after a long night of negotiations, the US stunned the UK and other European missions by threatening to veto the British resolution if the humanitarian language was not pruned and a clause inserted explicitly condemning Iran for its role as a backer of the Houthi rebels – an insertion that was blocked by Russia.
It is highly unusual for the western allies at the UN to threaten each other with vetoes.
One official involved in the talks said he had “never really seen anything like this”.
Another diplomat said: “I don’t know if the [veto] threat is unprecedented. It is certainly surprising and disappointing. In the end, however, we managed to bridge the gap and come to agreement.”
Diplomats at the UN believe that it reflected a shift in broader US foreign policy, under national security adviser John Bolton, secretary of state Mike Pompeo, and the president’s son-in-law Jared Kushner, which has elevated the importance of the US relationship with Saudi Arabia, and downgraded the relationships with European allies.
“Everything about US foreign policy is difficult to explain right now,” a European diplomat said.
The resolution calls for the Hodeidah ceasefire, which came into force on Tuesday, to be respected, and for the warring parties not to bring reinforcements into the city, which is a vital entry point for food and medicine for a country on the brink of famine.
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