The Dispute Between al-Houthi and Saleh

Saleh and al-Houthi

24 August 2017 – Al-Ayyam (Yemen)

Ali Abdullah Saleh rose to the presidency in the Yemen Arab Republic as the result of a political and security vacuum which the greatest political and security figures refused to conceal, fearing for their lives and their careers. Ali Abdullah Saleh accepted the position of President of the Yemen Arab Republic under extremely dangerous conditions, with a close strategic alliance with Sheikh Abdullah Ibn Hussein al-Ahmar of the Hashid tribe.

After Yemeni unification on 22 May 1990, unity was linked with political pluralism, freedom of the press and increasing activity of civil organisations. The two Yemeni partners in unification, the Council of Representatives and the Yemeni Republic authorities, split power between themselves. After a year and a half, differences emerged between Presdient Saleh and his deputy, Ali Salem al-Beidh, power disputes in which the president and his senior aides in the military and political institutions were accustomed to monopolising power and exercising control over the economic capabilities of the Yemen Republic.

Al-Beidh’s movement felt repeatedly marginalised and excluded from power. The political and security situation worsened and the efforts of internal and external intermediaries proved fruitless, including the mediation of King Hussein bin Talal, which resulted in an agreement signed by many parties and political organisations in addition to the Yemeni Socialist Party and the General People’s Congress. The ink was barely dry when war broke out in 1994. Al-Beidh’s side was defeated by Saleh with the support of the Hashid tribe and Hizb al-Islah, in addition to the support which Saleh garnered from outside Yemen.

In 2011, the youth revolution began, participated in by a number of political parties, including Abdul-Malik Badreddin al-Houthi’s group, Ansar Allah, and General Ali Muhsin al-Ahmar’s support for the revolution marked a turning point. These changes forced Ahmad Ali Abdullah Saleh to coordinate with Ansar Allah, led by al-Houthi. This alliance resulted in the fall of Amran and Sanaa and the First Armoured Division, which submitted to the leadership of Muhsin al-Ahmar. President Hadi was placed under house arrest to pressure him through fear and enticement into assisting al-Ahmar, al-Houthi and Saleh’s agenda. Hadi, defiant, was able to escape, and building on the request from Foreign Minister Riad Yassin, Hadi formed the Arab Nation Alliance, led by Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates.

The southern and eastern governorates were liberated from the Republican Guard, Central Security and Houthi militias, but these forces remain in control of Sanaa, Dhamar, Amran, Saada, al-Jawf, al-Mahwit, Ibb, Raymah, Hudaydah, as well as a number of districts in Hajjah and Taiz.

The conflict between Saleh and al-Houthi is a conflict of economic interests and a dispute about influence, and how each side imposes their political agenda on the other, a dispute which will erupt, sooner or later. Victory in a number of factors in the dispute will lead to one side overcoming the other. Those factors include the role of the tribes in Sanaa and the other governorates, in addition to the the support which Saleh and al-Houthi must gain to resolve the conflict between themselves by military strength.

Dr Fuad Said al-Matiri

Translated by Conor Fagan

Original article can be foundĀ here.

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