"Now the real civil war will begin," a veteran aid official told me, who worked in Yemen and has extensive knowledge of his affairs.
"And this was not real?" I asked.
"No, I do not think this was the real one," he replied.
It may sound cruel to you, but it is not. She was just saying a matter of fact. The number of recent casualties seems to support his argument.
Since the end of the civil war in March 201
Since the fighting broke out six days ago between the Zaydi Huthi militia and the supporters of former President Ali Abduallah Saleh, more than 234 people were killed and 400 wounded; and the number of victims increases with reports of summary executions and continuous fights.
The civil war certainly took a darker turn with the murder of Saleh.
His death shocked his followers and detractors alike. Some celebrated. The fireworks were thrown into rejoicing in some areas of the south, where Saleh crushed a cession in the 1994 Civil War. The pain would be strange in light of what he had done there.
But unbelief was a common reaction. It was as if many thought he would never die.
How many generations grew up with their faces on them, from textbooks, television channels and banners in the streets? Even some of those activists, who demanded his departure during Yemen's youth uprising in 2011, expressed regret for his death in their FB publications. Amazing, right? Some called it a Stockholm syndrome.
How could I die? He was the master of survival.
He enjoyed dancing on the heads of snakes. This is what it means to govern Yemen, he once told a journalist. Was it surprising that he was killed by one of the snakes, the Huthis, that he had raised?
Between 1974 and 1978, the Arab Republic of Yemen (North Yemen) had three presidents in rapid succession. The first two were killed and the third resigned to power for fear of his life; they all alternated power in a span of just one year.
Saleh was the fourth president. He was neither charismatic nor well known when he took office in 1978. Military commander and member of the strong Hashid tribe with little formal education, Salih was not particularly liked or respected. Many assumed that he had played a role in the assassination of former Yemeni President al-Hamdi in 1977 and that he served as a mere front for tribal and Saudi interests. Then, few believed that he would survive for a long time as president. However, he survived all, became president of United Yemen in 1994 and remained as president until he was forced to resign in 2012. When everyone thought his political career was over, he rose from the ashes again in 2014, supporting the Huthi revolt and ensuring its political relevance
The survival policy of his regime took the country to its ruins.
The Saleh regime depended on the support and loyalty of a nearby network within its own sectarian and tribal group, while at the same time playing in sectarian, tribal and regional divisions within society. This exploitation has led to a constantly changing interaction in which various political and ethnic groups are included at the expense of others at one point, only to be excluded elsewhere. The rise of Islamist, Sunni and Zaydi movements alike was the result of this policy.
The resistance of the Saleh regime was attributed to its dependence on its tribal military power base. But that resistance came to an end due to the power struggle within this close circle of strong men. Those dissatisfied members of his clan decided to support the youth uprising in 2011 by paving the way for the open hostility that took place thereafter.
Anyone following Yemen would be wise to refrain from future predictions. How can a future be predicted when alliances rise and fall as the waves come and go?
The observation of my friend should not be ruled out. It tells you that the war will intensify before it can stop.
Before, the Saleh clan was divided. Some were fighting with Saleh, others with the coalition led by Saudi Arabia and others with the Huthi militia backed by Iran.
Saleh's murder changed that. He is obligated to unite his clan again. His supporters, now led by his son, Ahmad, are joining the members of his clan fighting on the side of the coalition led by Arabia. Together they will take the war to the regions controlled by the Huthi militia and their tribal allies.
The real civil war could begin now. If the furious attack two years ago was not real, I'm afraid to think about the destruction that is to come.