Tuesday,12 December, 2017
Current issue | Issue 1235, (26 February - 4 March 2015)
Tuesday,12 December, 2017
Issue 1235, (26 February - 4 March 2015)

Ahram Weekly

New turning point in Yemen

Former Yemeni president Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi fled to the southern city of Aden this week, where he plans to rally support against the country’s Houthi rebels, writes Nasser Arrabyee in Sanaa

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Al-Ahram Weekly

The crisis in Yemen saw a new turning point this week with the news that former president Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi had withdrawn his resignation following his flight to Aden, the capital of the south of the country, where is trying to re-establish his authority.

Last Friday, Hadi escaped house arrest in the capital Sanaa and secretly travelled to Aden. He had been held by the capital’s new rulers, the Houthi rebels, ever since his resignation last month.

After Hadi’s arrival in Aden he nullified steps taken after September 2014, when the Houthis took control of Sanaa and Hadi and UN envoy Jamal bin Omar signed a Peace and Partnership Accord with them. The agreement set up a constitutional agreement between the Houthis, Hadi and the country’s other political groups.

This accord has now been rejected by Hadi and his allies in Aden. Last September, Hadi was under the influence of the Shia Houthis. In Aden, he is closer to the Yemen Muslim Brotherhood, which is opposed to the Houthis.

Negotiations are continuing in Sanaa under the sponsorship of the UN, but Hadi now wants these to be transferred to Aden, considered to be a safer environment. The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) has welcomed Hadi’s move to Aden and supported the cancellation of steps taken in coordination with the Houthis. It has also approached the UN Security Council for help.

However, the Houthi Revolutionary Committee (HRC), in charge of the government in Sanaa, still controls all institutions in both the south and north of the country.

On Monday, the HRC asked the former cabinet to act as a transitional authority until a new government is formed. The HRC has also ordered some former ministers to be put on trial and appointed new ministers from the ranks of deputies.

Hadi was unable and perhaps unwilling to act as president after the Houthis took over last month. During his house arrest he many times said he would not retract his resignation and wanted only to go abroad for medical treatment.

In Aden he is under the influence of the enemies of the Houthis, the Muslim Brotherhood and Al-Qaeda. Gulf Arab countries like Qatar support moves to defeat the Houthis, regardless of what this could lead to in the already war-torn country.

But it will not be easy to defeat the Houthis, and a campaign against them could lead to further conflict and destruction in Yemen. Even if the parties agree to go to Aden for continuing dialogue and negotiations, the Houthis will want to take control of the city, as they have done in Sanaa.

Aden is under the control of Popular Committees made up of tribesmen paid by Hadi. The state army and security forces have virtually collapsed, and the Houthis have accused the Popular Committees tribesmen of having links with Al-Qaeda.

One of the main leaders of the committees, Abdel-Latif Al-Sayed, was one of Al-Qaeda’s leaders before he became a confidant of Hadi.

Exiled leaders, including tribal leader Hamid Al-Ahmer and military leader Ali Muhsen, might now return from Turkey, Qatar and Saudi Arabia to participate in fighting the Houthis, who defeated them in Sanaa.

The Houthis accuse Bin Omar of conspiring with Hadi to relocate to Aden. A delegation from seven political parties, including the Al-Islah Party, the main opponent of the Houthis, went to Aden on Tuesday to meet Hadi.

The party of former president Ali Abdullah Saleh, one of the biggest, has been accused of supporting the Houthis. Saleh met this week with the Russian ambassador in Yemen, who is trying to mediate the conflict.

Hassan Zaid, secretary-general of the Al-Hak Party, considered close to the Houthis, has called for an alliance with Saleh’s Party “to rescue Aden from Al-Qaeda.”

Many Houthi leaders claim that Hadi has turned to Al-Qaeda for support since his arrival in Aden.

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