MIDDLE EAST

U.N. envoy unveils temporary accord in Yemen crisis

U.N. envoy unveils deal in talks meant to avoid the nation's falling into chaos

The United Nations envoy in Yemen on Friday unveiled a new temporary accord meant to help alleviate the political and security crisis enveloping the Arab nation.

Jamal Benomar, the U.N. envoy here, called the deal an “important breakthrough” in ongoing talks meant to avoid Yemen falling into civil war or disintegrating into further chaos. On his official Facebook page, he voiced the hope that the accord could pave the way for a “comprehensive settlement” of the nation’s political and leadership crisis.

Still unclear is the future of the presidency and government institutions. Negotiations with political groups are ongoing, the U.N. envoy said.

Since September, the capital has been in the hands of the Houthis, a northern faction allied to Iran that has emerged as the nation’s most powerful armed force. Groups in the south and elsewhere have declared the Houthi takeover a coup, an accusation denied by the Houthis.

Diplomats and others have voiced fears that Yemen could collapse as a nation-state or fall into open warfare based on tribal, sectarian and regional alliances.

The nation is home to Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, viewed as among the most powerful branches of the global terror network. The Houthis have been fighting Al Qaeda and view the group as a mortal enemy.

The Houthis, who say their aims are democratic, have placed U.S.-backed President Abdu Rabu Mansour Hadi and members of his government under house arrest. The group dissolved parliament and announced plans to establish a presidential council to run Yemeni affairs on an interim basis.

The United States and other nations, including Saudi Arabia, Yemen’s northern neighbor, have withdrawn their diplomatic missions from Sana. The U.N. has called on the Houthi leadership to pull back from government institutions.

There was no immediate word from the Houthis or other political factions here on the latest U.N. plan.

The accord revives the current parliament, whose future had been uncertain, and creates a People’s Transitional Council made up largely of "unrepresented components” in the country’s governing structure. At least half of the new body’s members will be from the south, the U.N. envoy said, while 30% of seats would be reserved for women and 20% for youth.

A new National Council made up of parliament and the transitional body will have powers to pass legislation during the “transitional phase,” the U.N. envoy said.

Bulos is a special correspondent.

Twitter: @mcdneville

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