How did the Houthi-Saleh alliance in Yemen collapse? | News –

How did the Houthi-Saleh alliance in Yemen collapse? | News


The former president of Yemen, who once said that governing the country of the Arabian Peninsula was like "dancing on the heads of snakes", has turned his back on his rebel allies, in a move planned and orchestrated by the United Arab Emirates rich in oil.

After he was ousted from power in 2011, it seemed that Ali Abdullah Saleh's dancing days might have ended, but more than six years later, the 75-year-old man, known for his Machiavellian political maneuvers, remains a key player in a conflict that has made Yemen kneel.

In a televised speech on Saturday, Saleh formally broke ties with the Houthis, saying he was open to a dialogue with the Saudi-led coalition that has been at war with his rebel alliance since March 2015.

While loyalist army units clashed with the Houthis on city streets for the fourth night in a row, Saleh blamed the rebels for the country's problems and asked his forces to ignore the orders of the Houthi leadership. .

"Yemen" Citizens have tried to tolerate the imprudence of the Houthis in the past two and a half years but they can no longer do so, "said Saleh.

" I urge our brothers in neighboring countries … to stop their aggression and lift the blockade … and we will turn the page. "

The Houthis, believed to be backed by the kingdom's regional rival, Iran, accused Saleh of organizing a" coup "and pledged to continue his fight against the "forces of aggression"

The coalition led by Saudi Arabia that has bombed Yemen for 33 months, said he applauded Saleh's overture and praised him for "taking the initiative" in a statement issued by the Official Saudi Press Agency

[Saleh’s] The General People's Congress (GPC) will take the initiative and take sides with its people, free Yemen from … militias loyal to Iran, "the coalition said.

Planned in Abu Dhabi

Yemeni officials told Al Jazeera that Saleh's decision to "marginalize" the Houthis, a group of Shiite rebels who control the capital Sanaa and large parts of the country, were planned in Abu Dhabi earlier this year, in consultation with Saudi Arabia.

A Yemeni official told Al Jazeera that the outcome of the Saleh-Houthi alliance was aimed at carving the coalition a way out of the conflict.

Speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak with the media, the official said: "Mohammed Bin Salman [Saudi Arabia’s crown prince and heir to the throne] has been influenced by the United Arab Emirates and plans to change from [Yemeni President Abd-Rabbu Mansour] Hadi to Saleh will help put end to the war. "

The leaked emails written by two former US officials in August suggested that Mohammed bin Salman "wanted to get out" of the war, which began in March 2015.

When the conflict began, badysts expected the fighting to last only a few months, but the violence has not shown signs of diminishing, which cost the coalition billions of dollars and claimed the lives of at least 87 Emirati soldiers and some 200 Saudis.

Agreement At the UN, more than 10,000 Yemenis have been killed and millions expelled from their homes, and the country faces the worst famine in modern history.

"The UAE and Saudi Arabia have lost many men in this war and it seems that with the help of the UAE, Saleh, or one of his sons, could end it," the official said.

"Saleh has completely bypbaded the Houthis … With the help of the UAE, he is still dancing on the heads of snakes … Within a year or two, his son, Ahmed, or even the former Prime Minister Khaled Bahah [who currently resides in the UAE] could be the next man to govern Yemen. "

Intelligence Online, a Paris-based news and diploma publication, reported that Mohammed bin Salman sent Ahmed al-Asiri, the former military spokesman of the Saudi-led coalition, to Abu Dhabi in June to meet with the son of Saleh, Ahmed, and discuss the possibility of forming a new government.

Ahmed, a powerful former military leader who was once ambbadador to the Emirates, has lived in the UAE for the past five years.

The publication also says that Mohammed bin Salman was pressured by the Crown Prince of the UAE, Mohammed bin Zayed, to get rid of Hadi in favor of Saleh. He added that Mohammed bin Salman had been enthusiastic about the idea of ​​"a return to power of the former Yemeni president."

The & # 39; trump card & # 39; of the UAE

Murad Alazzany, a Yemeni political badyst and professor at the University of Sanaa, told Al Jazeera that Saleh's son was the "trump card" of the United Arab Emirates.

"The UAE has been keeping Ahmed if something happened to his father, in which case they plan to send him immediately to Yemen to take on his role [Saleh’s]," Alazzany said.

"The UAE has always had plans for him, he is a tool, just like former Afghan president Hamid Karzai was used by the United States, when the time is right, they will use it to do whatever they want."

For more than 30 years, Saleh ruled Yemen with an iron fist, establishing a complicated network of alliances between the country's armed, civil and tribal forces. groups

After handing over power to his longtime deputy, Hadi, in 2012, as part of an agreement negotiated by the Gulf and the United States in exchange for judicial immunity, Saleh continued to command several units of the military and preside over the powerful GPC party he founded.

When the Houthis launched themselves south from their northern stronghold of Saada in September 2014, Saleh's system of patronage and corruption allowed them to take control of Sanaa.

Saleh has played Houthis for years. … He did this when the Salafists began to grow in power in the north. Initially he supported them, then he changed and supported the Houthis. Then he betrayed the Houthis. This is what it does.

Mohamed Qubaty, a former Yemeni ambbadador

In the lightning offensive, the Bani Sufyan tribe linked to Saleh helped facilitate safe pbadage for the Houthis through the northern province of Amran.

Most of the Yemeni army fell under the command of Saleh's relatives or allies, while those who resisted, such as the 310th Armored Brigade in Amran, were easily crushed.

Huge stockpiles of weapons, including tanks, humvees, machine guns, missile launchers and large ammunition stores were obtained by military units, and then shared among Houthi tribal leaders.

In the face of little or no resistance from the soldiers and police sent by Hadi to protect Sanaa, the Houthis baderted their control over the city with "explicit help." of the Republican Guard organized by members of the Saleh family, "said a report by the UN Security Council.

Saudi Arabia, along with several other Sunni Arab countries, intervened in the conflict, launching an air campaign against the rebels in March 2015, perceiving their advance as a plot orchestrated by Iran to destabilize the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC).

In May 2015, after the coalition airstrikes led by Saudi Arabia in their home Sanaa , Saleh officially announced the establishment of his alliance with the Houthis.

A year later, the GPC party of Saleh signed an agreement with the Houthis to form a political council to run the country.

An unstable alliance

However, cracks would soon emerge In August, the Houthis condemned Saleh's description of them as a "militia." Relations would deteriorate rapidly when Khalid al-Radhi, a To a CPG member and a close adviser to Saleh, he was shot to death.

The Houthis, however, told Al Jazeera that they never had an alliance with Saleh, arguing that they had a popular mandate, with most of their fighters coming from historically loyal tribes.

"We did not need or need an ally to help fight this war," he told Al Mohammed al-Bukhaiti, a spokesman for the Houthis. Jazeera

"We have no relationship with Ali Abdullah Saleh, the sons of Yemen joined to join our ranks to fight against this oppressive coalition led by Saudi Arabia and Hadi's militias"

Despite having fought against The Houthis for years while in office, Saleh's detractors say their alliance with the Houthis was a "marriage of convenience," with both forces seeking revenge on their mutual enemies.

Even now, Saleh's intentions remain unclear. With the Houthis recovering the key territory, he now says that the media misinterpreted his initial proposal to Saudi Arabia, and has asked Iran and Hezbollah to mediate between him and the Houthis. The locals told Al Jazeera that Saleh thought he could leave the Houthis aside, but the plan failed.

"Saleh has played against the Houthis for years," Mohamed Qubaty, a former Yemeni ambbadador, told Al Jazeera.

"They have always used a strategy of playing factions with each other, and he did this when the Salafis began to grow in power in the north, initially supporting them, then changing and supporting the Houthis, then betraying the Houthis. This is what he does. "

Saleh even played one of his cousins ​​and a member of his Sanhan tribe, the powerful General Ali Mohsin al-Ahmar, Qubaty added.

Ali Mohsin led six sporadic wars against the Houthis before finally defecting from the Saleh government in 2011 and joining the opposition.

"Saleh wanted to weaken Ali Mohsin and other dissident figures within the army who opposed the idea of ​​Ahmed becoming president," Qubaty said.

Tensions between the two had been simmering for more than a decade, wh that Saleh began to push for constitutional amendments, one of which included amending the presidential term from five to seven years.

This generated speculation that Saleh wanted to remain in office until 2013, which allowed his son Ahmed to reach the age of 40 – the minimum age for a Yemeni president – according to the constitution.

New Front in the Yemen War

The latest round of fighting that has seized the capital has opened a new front in the country's complex civil war, endangering the historic relations.

Residents told Al Jazeera that the Republican Guard forces loyal to Saleh fought to gain ground with the Houthis on Monday, as plumes of smoke rose from areas near government institutions.

Osama al-Fakih, a human rights activist, told Al Jazeera that the coalition's air strikes offered the only brief pause for the fight. He said the sound of an intense bombardment echoed in the deserted streets of the city until the early hours of Monday.

An Amran reporter told Al Jazeera that the Houthis launched a series of attacks on areas where they are known to be loyal to Saleh. The source said the house of Sheikh Mabkhout al-Mashriqi, a Saleh loyalist and member of the powerful tribal Hashid confederation, was bombed and destroyed on Sunday.

The Hashid tribal confederation allowed the safe pbadage of the Houthis through the Amran province before the rebels took the capital Sanaa.

The International Committee for the Red Cross said that dozens of Yemenis had been killed in the fighting and hundreds more were injured.

"Our call to all parties: civilians are not part of the fight".

The clashes underline a too familiar situation in war-ravaged Yemen, with forces loyal to Hadi who see similar internal confrontations between the loyalists and the pro-independence forces backed by the UAE.

Hadi has fallen out of favor with the United Arab Emirates, with Abu Dhabi spending billions of dollars to support Aydarous al-Zubaidi, a prominent southern secessionist and possible rival to the beleaguered president.

The forces backed by the Emiratis have participated in fierce shootings with forces loyal to the 72-year-old, and have been accused of preventing the president from returning to the city of Aden, controlled by the coalition.

Despite being at war with Yemen for more than two years, the coalition has not achieved its stated goal of restoring Hadi's "legitimate" government.

The Houthis continue to occupy most of the north, where more than half of Yemen's population lives.

Faisal Edroos on Twitter: @FaisalEdroos

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