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ASG Khiari warns of alarming developments in Red Sea and risk of exacerbating regional tensions

Assistant Secretary-General Khaled Khiari’s remarks to the Security Council on

maintenance of international peace and security

New York, 12 January 2024


Je vous remercie, Monsieur le President [French Permanent Representative Nicolas de Rivière],

On 11 January, the military forces of the United States and the United Kingdom, supported by four countries, reportedly conducted over fifty air strikes and missile strikes on targets across Yemen including in Sana’a, Taiz, Hudaydah, Hajja, Sa’ada, Dhamar, and Ibb. According to the Houthis’, this resulted in five dead and six wounded fighters. The United Nations cannot independently verify these figures at this time. As of this afternoon, no UN staff or premises were reported as having been affected.

Yesterday’s strikes follow the continued Houthi targeting of vessels in the Red Sea, including what was reported as “the largest attack to date” on 9 January, which involved a combination of drones and missiles that were intercepted by the United States and the United Kingdom naval forces. Subsequent to the adoption of Security Council resolution 2722 (2024) on 10 January, the Houthis reportedly launched another attack using an anti-ship ballistic missile on 11 January. The former attack was claimed by the Houthis to be a “preliminary retaliation” for the killing of Houthi fighters by US naval forces in an incident reported on 31 December.

Monsieur le President,

We are witnessing a cycle of violence that risks grave political, security, economic and humanitarian repercussions in Yemen and the region. Recent humanitarian improvements in the country are fragile and could easily be reversed if there are further incidents, while progress on reaching a political settlement to end the war in Yemen could also be undermined, leaving the people of Yemen facing the impact of continued conflict.

These developments in the Red Sea and the risk of exacerbating regional tensions are alarming. The Houthis’ attack following the adoption of the Security Council resolution and yesterday’s events further demonstrate that the region is on a dangerous escalatory trajectory, which could potentially impact millions in Yemen, the region and globally.

In a statement issued today, the Secretary-General called upon all parties involved not to escalate even more the situation in the interest of peace and stability in the Red Sea and the wider region. All concerned parties must do their utmost to avoid further escalation, reduce tensions and exercise restraint. We also reaffirm the importance of ensuring the safety and security of maritime navigation in the region, as emphasized in resolution 2722 of this Council. In that regard, we also call for the immediate release of the “Galaxy Leader” which was seized by the Houthis on 19 November and the release of her crew.

Monsieur le President,

We call on this Council to continue its efforts in actively engaging with all concerned parties to prevent further escalation from exacerbating regional tensions or undermining regional peace, security, or international trade.

Je vous remercie.