Yemen: New Shift of Power

Where to start!?

The two months in Yemen have been a complete, intense roller coaster ride. Houthis, a Shiite group, “invade” Sanaa city in mid September, claiming to continue the “revolution for change” in Yemen by setting up tents around the main airport road, flooding the streets with armed men (even kids), and taking over the 1st Armored Division claiming it to be the “21st of September” national park. For those who are not aware, on September 21st, the Peace and National Partnership Agreement (PNPA), a U.N backed deal was signed by all political fractions of Yemen, including the Houthis, to prevent further escalation of camps by Houthis and to form a new government in accordance to the outcomes of the National Dialogue Conference (NDC).

That first paragraph wasn’t that bad, right? But wait, it’s not that simple!

There’s multiple questions to be asked and I am sure many Yemenis are asking themselves the same thing: What’s next?

Observations

There are some observations I have noticed prior to the “Houthi invasion” – so to speak. Ali Al-Bukhaiti, a prominent Houthi activist and representative for his group traveled to Tehran, Iran at the end of June. He flaunts about his trip to Iran and posts multiple pictures in his “Timeline” album on Facebook. To make life simple, click here for an example. On July 19th, he visited Dubai as well, again, flaunting a photo on this date in his “Timeline” album in front of the largest tower in the world, “Burj Khalifa.”

Why does the Dubai trip send off an alarm for me? It’s simple: Ahmed Saleh. Some people may have forgotten, but General Ahmed Ali Saleh (ex-president Saleh’s son) was sworn in as Yemen’s newly appointed Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of Yemen in the United Arab Emirates. Maybe I may overanalyze some movements by political leaders, but this to me, screams “ALERT.”

The timetable in which Ali Al-Bukhaiti traveled to Iran and Dubai are relatively close. Although I don’t have any magical powers to know for sure what happened in those two trips, most likely and I can almost guarantee it that Ali Al-Bukhaiti met officials in Iran and talked about Iran’s future in Yemen, while also planning this houthi coup with them as well. As for his trip after Iran to Dubai where Ahmed Ali Saleh is based, this also rings a bell that Ali Al-Bukhaiti’s talks were then switched over to Ahmed, in which they both agreed of the coup for both Iran and GPC’s interest to overrun the Islah party and diminish their power.

Following those two trips by two months, the very smooth and well planned Houthi invasion in Sanaa occurred and not shockingly, Islah and the Al-Ahmar clan was the target. The major and most important target was Ali Mohsen’s 1st Armored Division. After they successfully took over that division, Ali Mohsin fled from Sanaa to Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia, on the other hand, is pleased that Houthis are targeting Islah because its the “Muslim Brotherhood” of Yemen.

Clearly, what shows here is that the GPC, Ahmed Saleh and even Ali Saleh want to clear their path to Yemen towards power again. Many questions arise here and this is, will Ahmed Ali Saleh pave way to the presidential chair, after Pres. Hadi? Will the Houthis be a temporary ruling part in Yemen while Ahmed Ali
Saleh paves its way to the presidential chair? Will the GPC then, rival the Houthi group out of power in the near future? Will Houthis be a long term friend for Saudi or will they be friends just until Saudi reaches its goals to fully kill Islah power in Yemen? GPC and Houthis are noticeably working hard together for their interests.

Southern issue

This is quite tricky, especially because Abdulmalik Al-Houthi, the leader of the Houthi movement, always addresses the southern case in his public speeches, which he says, “That all their demands will be met.” Is this the truth or just a political move to gain support?

There are some unconfirmed news that there are a few officials who are in Aden after the houthi invasion. In fact, some say that Hadi’s eldest son is in Aden currently. Hooriyah Mashhour has published a few tweets stressing the importance of the southern case and that she stands with the southern people for their demands and rights. Timing sounds fishy, doesn’t it?

What happens to the south? Will the south succeed in separation? Well, if Ahmed Ali Saleh comes back to power, will he let south separate by choice? I doubt that. If south separates, will Saudi let the south flourish? I doubt that, too. It’s constant loopholes that both sides of Yemen are trapped in. Will the south be a safe haven for officials? Absolutely.

Please take note: Hadi will never ever succeed in South Yemen. Southerners always considered Hadi weak in personality and the fact that he was VP for ex-president Saleh all these years just makes southerners hate him even more.

Saudi Arabia

Saudi is playing a dangerous game in Yemen, with the big gamble of ending the Islah party from major power. The risks are too high, yet they seem to accept and “welcome” the PNPA agreement signed by Houthis with other political factors in Yemen. While trying to battle Syria, how will they control Houthis and to some extent, Iran from increasing their influence in Yemen? Saudi’s southern borders will most likely be effected by this but to what extent? As all of us know, Saudi would do anything in their power to protect their borders from Iranian influence.

Interestingly enough, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohamed Zarif and his Saudi counterpart Suad Al-Faisal met in New York on the 21st of September, hinting a new relationship on the surface between Iran and Saudi because of recent developments in Syria, Iraq and Yemen. I believe Saudi is forced to reach agreements and talks with Iran because their borders are at risk. This may explain the welcoming of the PNPA agreement between Houthis and the Yemeni parties.

Conclusion

The main reason why many Yemenis are sleepless and confused by the recent events in Yemen is because we aren’t used to such lightening-fast changes, which were highly unexpected. It still feels like we are in a dream and we want to wake up, but can’t. Northern states have always conflicted with Houthis and their province of Saadah, and so for Houthis to be a main group in the political arena over night, is just too much to handle.

There are many bargains, conflicts that can erupt, but I believe that such events will lead to pressured talks with Saudi and Iran. We may sleep overnight and wake up to presidential elections and the resignation of Hadi. We may wake up to Ahmed Ali Saleh becoming president, too. Who knows!

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About Summer Nasser
Blogger, with Yemeni roots based in New York City. Student of Sociology (B.A.) with a focus on the country of Yemen. I would consider myself a student of knowledge.

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