The top UN envoy for Yemen on Monday warned that the attack on Saudi oil facilities may drag Yemen into "a regional conflagration."
The sudden military escalation has made the task of finding a political solution to the conflict in Yemen even more compelling, Martin Griffiths told the Security Council in a briefing.
Saturday's attack on Aramco oil facilities in Saudi Arabia has consequences well beyond the region, he warned. "At a minimum, this kind of action carries the risk of dragging Yemen into a regional conflagration."
This extremely serious incident makes the chances of a regional conflict much higher and those of a rapprochement much lower, said Griffiths. "With Yemen in some way or other linked. None of that is good for Yemen."
"And this is frankly terrifying, and is an eventuality which runs completely counter to the many and detailed conversations I have had in recent weeks ... in favor of a series of steps to be taken by the parties toward de-escalation," Griffiths told the Security Council via a video link from Geneva.
It is not entirely clear who was behind the attack, but the fact that Houthi rebels in Yemen have claimed responsibility is bad enough, he said.
"And whatever we will discover of the attack, it is a sure sign that for Yemen the direction of travel seems to be moving even further away from the peace we all seek. Every day the war goes on, the greater the threat, as we see, to regional stability. We need to take a bold move."
Griffiths also voiced concern about the new conflicts in the south of the country between government forces and the Southern Transitional Council. The conflicts open the possibility of another war in Yemen, alongside the one between government forces and Houthi rebels.
"Events there present to us an eerie calm. The city of Aden remains broadly under the control of the Southern Transitional Council. ... Forces from other fronts have moved to support their respective sides in this new and dangerous crisis. And these moves, in turn, destabilize those other fronts, encouraging new military adventurism," said Griffiths.
"There is really nothing good to be said about this besides that calm I mentioned."
Although encouraged by the calls for peace from other groups in the southern governorates, Griffiths said that the risk of further fragmentation and violence and displacement is real.
"The status of forces and their re-armament makes even the most optimistic of us cautious in judgment. I condemn ... the unacceptable efforts by the Southern Transitional Council to take control of state institutions by force. The functioning of state institutions needs to prevail."
The lasting and resounding message from developments in the south is a clarion call for an urgent end to the conflict in Yemen as a whole, he said. "We see, therefore, the war not merely continuing to wreck the lives and livelihoods of men and women in Yemen. We also see it threatening to metastasize into something that threatens the existence of Yemen itself. So we must move to end it now."