A United Nations Security Council (UNSC) delegation visited Yemen Sunday January 27, 2013, to boost President Abdrabuh Mansur Hadi and help push forward national reconciliation talks after preparations over the past few months for a National Dialogue Conference -which would lead to a new constitution and elections in February 2014- faced many challenges.
So much importance and media hype was given to the meeting, yet Yemeni netizens and residents were apprehensive of the traffic that such a meeting would cause.
Journalist Adam Baron tweeted:
UN Security Council will be meeting in Sanaa tomorrow. my yemeni friends are already complaining about the traffic that will result. #yemen
new checkpoints related to the UNSC's visit already fueling major gridlock in sanaa. #yemen
On the day of the meeting heightened security measures, checkpoints, road blocks and hovering helicopters paralyzed the capital Sanaa and annoyed it's residents.
Baraa Shaban tweeted complaining:
It took me 40 mins to do the journey that takes me 10 mins everyday, #UNSC visit to #Sanaa #Yemen
@BaraaShiban: #Checkpoints , #Checkpoints #Checkpoints this is insane, we literally can't move … #Yemen
Osamah AlFakih tweeted:
@osamahfakih: Hearing helicopters more than usual for the #UNSC meeting in #Sanaa #Yemen
I wish if such security procedures are taken daily for the safety of citizens first not only for the #UNSC meeting in #Sanaa #Yemen #UN
Matthew Russell Lee wondered:
Will US be pausing drone strikes near Sanaa? http://www.innercitypress.com/sc4yatrips012413.html … MT “@yemen_updates #UNSC meets on Monday in #Yemen”
Will Picard also tweeted:
Seriously, what's the point of shutting down a city of 2 million just to have the same pointless meeting you could have in NYC? #Yemen #UNSC
The UNSC delegation held a private meeting with the Reconciliation Government, National Dialogue Technical Committee, the Military Committee, leaders of former president Ali Abdullah Saleh's General People's Congress, leaders of the Joint Meeting Parties, and the ambassadors of the 10 countries which are sponsors of the Gulf Cooperation Council's initiative.
Simultaneously, thousands of protesters marched in the capital Sanaa demanding that ousted president Saleh be put to trial and demanded freezing of his assets, huge demonstration in Yemen's southern city of Aden were also held demanding secession.
Baraa Shaiban tweeted:
Youth revolution prepare a mass march right now, parallel of the visit of #UNSC members
Hussain Yafai also tweeted
the chants now in the sqaure in Aden is “we are the decision makers” , referring to the fate of #SouthYemen.
Freelance Journalist Joe Shaffer, based in Yemen, pragmatically tweeted:
@JoeSheffer: The arrival of the UNSC shows that the national dialogue really isn't going well. This kind of shuttle diplomacy is nonsense. #yemen
He added on his blog:
And so unfortunately the grand sum total of the shuttlers’ contribution to the political-process, has been to cause a whole lot of disruption to people in the capital city and little more. In the climate of the madness which surrounded today’s visit, local people in Tahrir Square were being stopped from carrying bags by officers from the Central Security Forces and the number of checkpoints in the city exploded overnight until roads were gridlocked. It’s sure to have contributed to Yemeni people’s spiralling opinion of the outside world.
There is no doubt that Jamal Benomar and the whole of his UN Special delegation team have and continue to work exceptionally hard for the people of Yemen and towards the national dialogue; and the above should not detract from his efforts. Its also fair to say that as an individual Benomar seems both genuine and sincere in his desire to make this peaceful settlement to work.
Others will point out that whilst the dialogue might not be going so well, the fact that the country has not descended anywhere near into a Syria-esque civil war shows that it is has in some ways been a success.
Will Picard added:
This checklist diplomacy is out of touch with messy reality, and is ultimately unproductive. In fact, under the guidance of its “Friends,” Yemen could complete each of the items listed above without changing a single aspect of the situation on the ground.
What Yemen needs is not a checklist or a roadmap, but real international engagement based on the very real crises impeding progress toward stability and security.
Ironically the same United Nations Security Council which supported former president Ali Abdullah Saleh immunity and the one candidate presidential election in Yemen, were publicly displaying their support for President Abdu Rabuh Mansour Hadi and the “peaceful transition” in Yemen. Yet, the sanctions against former president Saleh which President Hadi had hoped for were not achieved during their visit. After many threats by the UN to take steps against those who are obstructing the political process, in a press conference after the meetings, the head of the UNSC delegation said that how they would deal with individuals obtructing the GCC initiative will be discussed during the next UNSC meeting in New York. As if Yemen which has been in turmoil for the past two years still had the luxury of time. Needless to say the US drones that had been striking Yemen almost daily since the beginning of the year were not even on the agenda.
There were mixed reactions from Yemenis regarding the visit:
#UNSC delegates left #Sanaa after creating: 1- positive momentum for transition process in #Yemen & 2- crazy traffic jam in the city. #FF
Q: President #Hadi obviously has the support & backing of the international community, what about the “local” community? #Yemen
@ShathaAlHarazi SC & Zaiani who blessed the transition shld explain y we struggle to pass a fair TJ law when Saleh got the Immunity so fast #Yemen
@imothanaYemen: Quite a significant day for Yemen and a couple of very challenging months ahead #Yemen #UNSC
This is a Storify of more reactions to the visit.