UNITED NATIONS (AP) — U.N. Security Council members are considering the first resolution on Yemen since a rebel takeover spun the Arab world's poorest country into the danger of collapse.
A draft resolution obtained by The Associated Press demands that Shiite Houthi rebels "immediately and unconditionally" withdraw forces from government institutions, release U.S.-backed President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi and his Cabinet from house arrest, and engage "in good faith" in U.N.-led peace talks.
But the draft falls short of what the Arab countries of the Gulf Coordination Council would like.
Alarmed and worried that Shiite powerhouse Iran is backing the rebels, the largely Sunni Muslim states of the council have demanded a resolution that condemns the Houthis and acts under Chapter 7 of the U.N. Charter, meaning it can be militarily enforced.
The draft emerged just two days after U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told the council that Yemen was "collapsing before our eyes." Jordan and Britain quickly began working on a draft resolution.
At least nine countries, including the United States, have closed their embassies in Yemen in the past few days amid fears that the Houthis will grab more territory and that the world's most dangerous branch of al-Qaida, based in Yemen, will be emboldened by the chaos. The Houthis and militant Sunnis of the al-Qaida branch are bitter rivals.
The U.N.-led talks continue but have made little ground, with envoy Jamal Benomar telling the Security Council on Thursday that Yemen, which neighbors Saudi Arabia and Oman, is at a crossroads between "civil war and disintegration."
The draft resolution "strongly deplores" the Houthis' actions to take over government institutions after grabbing control of the capital, Sanaa, in September. The rebels dissolved the parliament, and Hadi resigned last month.
The draft demands that all parties in Yemen "cease all armed hostilities against the people and the legitimate authorities of Yemen and relinquish the arms seized from Yemen's military and security institutions." It also calls on U.N. member states to "refrain from external interference which seeks to foment conflict and instability."