8 Apr 2022 2:21 pm
The Yemeni President delegated his powers to a leadership council. This move, backed by Saudi Arabia, aims to have the Arab war coalition reopen negotiations with the Houthis to settle the conflict in Yemen. The question is whether the Council will be able to put the internal divisions aside for the time being.
by Seyed Alireza Mousavi
Yemeni “president” Abed Rabbo Mansur Hadi, who has lived in Riyadh for years, ousted himself on Thursday and handed over his leadership to a presidential council, according to mainstream media. The move came after the self-calling Ansar Allah Houthi movement carried out massive retaliatory attacks on Aramco oil facilities in Yemen. Stock markets recently reacted to reports of the new Houthi attack on Aramco by spiking oil prices. Ansar Allah had previously also attacked targets in the United Arab Emirates because the UAE had increased its involvement in the military intervention in Yemen.
Military successes by the Houthis, who are supported by Iran, have apparently heralded a rethink in the Arab war coalition, which is supported by the West. The so-called Presidential Leadership Council is now to lead the country politically, militarily and with regard to security issues for a “transitional period”. The council’s mandate is due to expire as soon as “complete peace” has been restored in the country.
Saudi Arabia welcomed Hadi’s decision and called on the Presidential Council to start negotiations with the Ansar Allah movement. However, there is no doubt that Hadi resigned his post at the urging of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. The transmitter Al Alam even spoke in his commentary about bin Salman’s “white coup” against Mansur Hadi, who has been living in Riyadh as a Saudi puppet since he was driven into exile by Houthi fighters at the end of March 2015. Hadi has rarely visited his own country since the outbreak of the conflict. To reinstate Hadi, Saudi Arabia launched the bloody war against Yemen in March 2015, in cooperation with a number of allies and with arms and logistical support from the US and several Western countries.
Bin Salman met with Council members on Wednesday after the announcement of Hadi’s resignation and said Yemen could start a “new chapter” with him. It has long been observed that bin Salman was looking for an opportunity to get out of the bloody Yemen crisis.
“The real legitimacy in Yemen rests with those who defend the country’s independence, and the Presidential Council is an extension of the occupation and has no basis of legitimacy whatsoever,” the Ansar Allah movement said in response to Hadi’s resignation and the composition of the council in Yemen riad
Houthi spokesman Mohammed Abdul-Salam also dismissed any significance of the new council. “Our Yemeni people are not concerned about illegitimate decisions made by illegitimate parties outside their borders (in Saudi Arabia),” Abdul-Salam tweeted.
طريق السلام بوقف العدوان ورفع الحصار وخروج القوات الأجنبية من البلاد, ودون ذلك محاولة يائسة لإعادة ترتيب صفوف المرتزقة للدفع بهم نحو مزيد من التصعيد, وشعبنا اليمني ليس معنيا بإجراءات غير شرعية صادرة خارج حدود وطنه عن جهة غير شرعية.
— محمد عبدالسلام (@abdusalamsalah) April 7, 2022
Mansur Hadi has been the main point of contention between Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates from the start. Hadi’s rule has recently been undermined by the influence of the United Arab Emirates in areas still nominally under his control. The UAE formed, funded and armed separatist militias in southern Yemen and set up prisons there.
The man who now heads the Presidential Council at the head of what is believed to be an internationally recognized government is former Interior Minister Rashad al-Alimi. He has close and long-standing ties with Saudi Arabia. The composition of the council already suggests that new conflicts are in the air. Because there is bitter hostility between some of the actors who have now come together there.
STC President Aydarua al-Zubaidi, a military man, is a member of the new Presidential Council. Zubaidi believes in the secession of southern Yemen from the state of Yemen and even calls himself the southern president. Other members also include the governor of Ma’rib, Sultan al-Arada, a pragmatist with a strong Islamist background, and Tariq Salih, the nephew of the then President (Ali Abdullah Salih).
The interests represented in the Presidential Council will very likely clash. The question is whether the new officials will be able to hang around and put their divisions aside for now. At least that’s what Bin Salman is hoping for. Peter Salisbury, Yemen expert at the International Crisis Group, described the transfer of power as the “most momentous shift within the anti-Houthi bloc since the outbreak of the war”. The failure of the new anti-Houthi coalition could quickly force a definitive split from the Saudi-Emiratis-sponsored groups. The Houthis are primarily committed to the sovereignty and integrity of Yemen and the withdrawal of all foreign mercenaries. In fact, Ansar Allah will benefit from possible internal divisions in the Saudi-led coalition and gain more influence over Yemen’s future shape.
More on the subject – Saudi Arabia announces ceasefire in Yemen