CAIRO (Reuters) - The United Nations’ special envoy to Yemen, Jamal Benomar, has warned that the country is on the brink of civil war and accused all sides of contributing to the political and economic turmoil.
Yemen is slipping further into chaos as the Houthis, an Iranian-backed Shi‘ite Muslim militia from the north, consolidate their grip on power after seizing the capital in September and sidelining the central government.
The fighters have been advancing into southern territories, confronting Sunni Muslim tribesmen, other groups and the local branch of al Qaeda.
“We believe the situation is very dangerous. Yemen is on the brink of civil war,” Benomar said in an interview with television channels al Arabiya and al-Hadath late on Wednesday.
Al Qaeda-affiliated fighters seized an army base in southern Yemen and held soldiers prisoner on Thursday. The United States, Britain and France have closed their embassies in Sanaa, citing security concerns.
Benomar said Yemen’s economy was facing imminent collapse and called for more dialogue to reach a peaceful settlement.
“They are all party to what has happened so far, they have all made mistakes and follies and sometimes groups resorted to violence to realise political aims,” the envoy said.
Yemen, which borders top oil exporter Saudi Arabia, is home to Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, one of the global network’s most active arms that has carried out attacks abroad.
Reporting by Omar Fahmy; Writing by Raissa Kasolowsky; Editing by Andrew Heavens