Gulf Arab countries and Jordan want the United Nations Security Council to blacklist the son of Yemen's former president and a Houthi militia leader and effectively impose an arms embargo on the rebels that rule most of the poor Arabian peninsula country.
Experts from the 15-council members met on Tuesday for the first time to discuss a draft resolution that would impose a global asset freeze and travel ban on Ahmed Saleh, the former head of Yemen's elite Republican Guard, and Abdulmalik al-Houthi, a top leader of the Iran-allied Shi'ite Houthi group.
Saleh's father, former Yemen President Ali Abdullah Saleh, and two other senior Houthi leaders, Abd al-Khaliq al-Huthi and Abdullah Yahya al-Hakim, were blacklisted by the Security Council in November. Yemeni soldiers loyal to the former president are fighting alongside the Houthis.
Saudi Arabia launched air strikes against the Houthis in neighboring Yemen nearly two weeks ago with a coalition made up mainly of four Gulf Arab allies. The United States said on
Tuesday it is speeding up arms supplies to the coalition. Saudi-backed Yemen President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi was forced to flee the southern city of Aden late last month.
The U.N. resolution, seen by Reuters, was drafted by Jordan and the six-member Gulf Cooperation Council. It would impose an arms embargo on the five men and "those acting on their behalf or at their direction in Yemen" - effectively the Houthi militia and soldiers loyal to Saleh.
The resolution also "calls upon Member States, in particular States neighboring Yemen, to inspect ... all cargo to Yemen" if they have reasonable grounds to believe it contains weapons.
Jordan and the Gulf Arab states had been negotiating with the council's veto-wielding powers - the United States, Russia, France, Britain and China - for more than a week before circulating a draft text to all 15 council members on Monday.
Diplomats, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Russia suggested last week that an arms embargo should also cover the Yemen government. But Saudi Arabia's U.N. ambassador, Abdallah Al-Mouallim, said such a move would be unfair.
Russia on Saturday put forward its own draft resolution demanding "regular and obligatory humanitarian pauses in the air strikes by the coalition" to allow for the evacuation of foreigners.
The Jordanian and Gulf Arab states draft resolution "calls on all parties to facilitate the evacuation by concerned States and international organizations of their civilians and personnel from Yemen."