Saturday,22 September, 2018
Current issue | Issue 1231, (29 January - 4 February 2015)
Saturday,22 September, 2018
Issue 1231, (29 January - 4 February 2015)

Ahram Weekly

Next move

The resignation of Yemen’s president and prime minister passed almost without notice, perhaps because their departure from office may not be final, writes Nasser Arrabyee

Al-Ahram Weekly

Yemen has been without a president or government for about one week now. Nothing out of the ordinary happened after President Abdu Rabu Mansour resigned, and nothing happened after Prime Minister Khaled Bahah resigned. No violence, no riots, no looting or plundering. Life is still normal, by Yemeni standards.

After Abdel-Malik Houthi put both men under his custody, as head of the strongest group and “kingmaker”, things remained calm. The men resigned to make Houthi face the internal and external pressures alone, as head of an illegitimate group “seeking to take power by force.”

A number of possible scenarios can be foreseen now. The first would be a return of Hadi and Bahah. The UN envoy, Jamal Bin Omar, is doing his best to convince both men to change their minds and return to their posts. This may happen, but only if the Houthis agree to withdraw from Sanaa, and this seems impossible.

The Houthis are everywhere, in every institution, military and civil, not only as fighters but as officials in these institutions, many of them officials convinced to work with Houthi for different reasons.

A second scenario would see a return to parliament, to agree on the resignation of Hadi or refuse it. Going to the parliament means simply that power has returned to former President Ali Abdullah Saleh, whose party has the overwhelming majority. This option is strongly opposed by Saleh’s opponents, Islamists, socialists and Nasserites, but the Houthis might agree to it.

The third scenario would see a revolutionary presidential council formed by the Houthis. With the army and security agencies torn apart and very weak, and practically doing nothing, the only group that can form a presidential council is the Houthi, as the strongest political and military group.

But it would definitely need Saleh and his party for two things: the army, which is still with Saleh, and tribal leaders loyal to Saleh in the most influential tribes of Hashed and Bakil, in addition to supporters of Saleh and his party everywhere in Yemen, who supported Houthi in a way or another from the very beginning.

President Hadi is using two cards to pressure Houthi: secession of the south and the international community, which would not recognise Houthi.

However, the Houthi know that the south is dominated by the Islamist Islah Party and Saleh’s party, and that the separatist groups are very weak because they are not united, at least yet.

This means that any dialogue between Houthi and the two dominant groups in both the south and north — Saleh’s party and Islah Party — would be good enough to preserve unity. The two groups, Saleh and Islah, have already gone recently to Saada separately to meet Houthi for this purpose.

For the international community, the United States is key. A strong force is needed to fight Al-Qaeda. American officials have hinted over the last few days that they would deal with the ruling group in Yemen, whoever it is.

Houthi are the biggest enemy of Al-Qaeda. And Saudi Arabia and Iran should have a new agreement, tactic, or strategy to fight Al-Qaeda and expand their influence in Yemen.

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