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UN Security Council Discusses Red Sea and Gaza at Russia’s Insistence

Russian Permanent Representative to the UN Vassily Nebenzia. UN Photo/Manuel Elias

The UN Security Council met yesterday afternoon, at the call of Russia, with two items on its agenda, Gaza and the Red Sea. Both discussions could be characterized as confrontations between the war party, led by the U.S., U.K. and Israel and the rest of humanity that is seeking peace for the world.

Russian Permanent Representative to the UN Vassily Nebenzia and U.S. Permanent Representative Linda Thomas-Greenfield went head to head on the U.S.-U.K. strikes on the Houthis in Yemen, which happened overnight the night before. Nebenzia told the Council that the “aggression” of Thursday night Jan. 11 by a so-called “international coalition” saw attacks against Yemen and its people, with aircraft and sea vessels hitting multiple cities, bombarding airports and other infrastructure, reported a lengthy UN News account of the meeting.

The same destruction has been unfolding in Gaza, with the war now spreading to the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden, he said, adding that these massive strikes by the U.S. and U.K. have “nothing in common” with the right to self-defense. “Actions of the so-called coalition are in breach of Article 2 of the UN Charter. … May I remind you that ‘freedom of navigation’ is regulated by the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea,” he said.

Thomas-Greenfield claimed that the strikes against Houthi targets in Yemen overnight on Thursday, Jan. 11, were to “disrupt and degrade” the group’s “reckless attacks” against commercial shipping in the Red Sea and in the Gulf of Aden. These strikes were necessary and proportionate, she added, noting that “They were consistent with international law, and in exercise of the United States’ inherent right to self-defense, as reflected by Article 51 of the UN Charter.”

The discussion on Gaza was similarly divided, but this time on the question of an immediate ceasefire. Russia, China and the states from the Global South stressed the need for an immediate ceasefire, while the U.S., U.K. and Israel, opposed them. The discussion was preceded by a briefing from UN humanitarian affairs chief Martin Griffith, who told ambassadors that what has been unfolding in Israel and Gaza is a war conducted “with almost no regard” for the impact on civilians. “There is no safe place in Gaza,” he said. “Dignified human life is a near impossibility.”

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