Deep State in Yemen | Emergence and future
There are different definitions for the term, but it basically refers to those deep coalitions in the state, among the bureaucratic bodies, political, media, military, security…
First: What is a “Deep State” and what does it signify in the case of Yemen?
There are different definitions for the term, but it basically refers to those deep coalitions in the state, among the bureaucratic bodies, political, media, military, security, intelligence, agencies, the intelligentsia, religious scholars, tribal leaders, businessmen … etc. Those who belong to these bodies and circles are generally exempt from accountability and responsibility, and they are immune from being legally persecuted even in the case of overthrowing a regime or the outbreak of events that affect the system the protects them. They also plunder the country and are deeply involved with corruption. It is not a state-within-a state as some tend to name it, instead it is the state itself in its hierarchy and entrenched horizontal and vertical organization, and its violence and ability to repress and control. It is the real state that uses its propaganda and intelligence bodies, in addition to its media, cultural, religious, tribal, and sectarian structures, in order to legitimize itself and embellish its hideous acts.
Therefore, it is a highly complex and knotty structure that penetrates into almost every area and extends its hands in politics, economy, culture, and even sports or any other circles (such as the chiefs of the neighborhoods, the Imams of the mosques, and the tribal leaders, etc.) This implies that it impossible for this network to be dissolved and broken up, and there is a huge risk in attempting to do so, since this will eventually lead to ravage the state as a whole. It also means that overthrowing the head of a regime, as a symbol and most important part thereof, will not necessarily ensure the destruction of the whole structure of the regime, but it rather means its temporary disappearance until it reorganizes itself and finds the chance to reappear firmly and imposes itself again through new institutions where the members of the deep state are still functioning, and trying to strangle the new institutions to weaken them and ensure their early demise. Otherwise, they would accept the new situation without adhering to the laws, while attempting to cripple the new order by limiting its functionality which would cause the frustration of the public, which will also lead to its failure.
The deep state in Yemen was embodies in Ali Abdullah Saleh, the deposed president of Yemen. Saleh succeeded through 30 years of ruling the country in building up a very complicated and strong financial, military, security, political, and tribal networks with varied goals and objectives, which are also connected to similar network on a regional and international levels. The general and common goal among these networks is protecting their interests against any emerging threats. Therefore, we find that some revolutions opted for a reconciliation approach that protects the ideals of the revolution while giving the previous regime a chance to coexist with the emerging situation in the society in the so-called concept of “transitional justice” instead of criminal justice, trials and punishment.
All revolutions against oppressive regimes take one of these two approaches:
- Dismantling the regime (deep state) and its structures and networks as whole and replacing them with the new system designed by the powers of the revolution. This approach ensures the integrity of the revolution, and curb the influence of the counter-revolution. On the other hand, it could also lead to chaos and civil war, which would prolong the struggle, especially when the ruler depends on his military might to protect his rule (military regimes), which is the case in most of the Arab countries where revolutions took place, including Yemen.
- The reconciliation approach with the old regime, where all the parties agree on certain principles and mechanisms for a smooth transition of power according to certain agreements without exterminating those affiliated with the previous regime not neglecting the rights of the victims of that regime. This is called “transitional justice” (TJ) which aims to achieve national conciliation and ensure the rule of law in order to enable the country to move from the state of conflict to a state of social peace and conciliation. Still, TJ is achieved through legal proceedings inasmuch as it is achieved through conciliation. This implies that facts should be revealed and the victims and their families shall be entitled to damages, and those responsible for human rights violations should be exposed through recognition of the violations and publicly apologizing for them, in addition to introduce constitutional and legal guarantees to prevent such violations in the future. Nevertheless, the principles and rules of TJ differ according to the circumstances of each system and community and the degree of the parties willingness to adhere to the processes of TJ, but there are three basic principles that should not be absent in any TJ scenario: Investigation, Accountability, and Reconciliation.
These principles should guide the work of the committees that should be established in order to find facts, determine the victims and estimate the amount of harms inflicted on them on order to be satisfactorily compensated, in addition to held the responsible parties accountant for their crimes and violations (although it might be a moral accountability nor legal, unless in cases where the old regime is collapsed and disintegrated and committed major crimes. This also differs according to the agreements, where punishment could be in the form of excluding some people from any political participation in the future). It is also incumbent on those committees to put end for corruption and corrupt people in the bodies of the state, freeze the accounts of those involved in corruption and allocating this money for the victims, and introduce measures to prevent such violations and ensure the smooth transition towards democracy and civil society. This could be achieved in several stages, leading to the realization of the objectives of the revolution while avoiding descending to chaos and deadly conflicts. This approach succeeded in Latin America in the 1980’s (like Argentina, Chile, Mexico) where all the parties agreed on the importance of moving towards democratization and political stability following revolutions and periods of chaos and conflict, sometimes accompanied by the weak military in the state, due to internal schisms or external defeat, which was the case in Argentina after its army had been defeated in the Falklands war in 1982 by the UK.
Transitional Justice in Yemen
The Yemeni draft law for TJ defines reconciliation as “a process of national agreement that shall be the basis for a relation between the political and societal constituents of the country, based on tolerance and justice, with the aim of coming to terms with the conflicts of the past through certain measures and procedures defined in this law and any other laws that promote security, social peace and reconciliation.”
The third article in this draft law determined the principles and bases on which the conciliatory justice should be established, stating that the law aims at achieving the following:
- Implementing a comprehensive national conciliation process which aims at exposing the facts and preserving the unity of Yemen and the security and stability of the country, in addition to emphasizing the importance of a smooth and quiet transition of power, and the commitment by all parties to stop all kinds of revenge and legal, judicial, or political prosecution.
- Taking the necessary measures to implement conciliatory justice, and exposing human rights violations that were previously committed, and ensuring reparations to victims or their relatives, while involving them in these procedures as a guarantee to their right to remedies while avoiding the mistakes of the past.
- Contributing to enhancing the culture of dialogue and laying down the foundation for reconciliation and building the a civil state, a state of law, democracy and human rights, while addressing at the same time the human rights abuses to guarantee their non-occurrence in the future.
This draft law and other suggested projects related to TJ but that were never passed in the parliament due to major disagreements related to some of the articles, and the demands to add or amend other articles in the draft law. Passing any law in the parliament requires the agreement among all of its constituents as determined in the Gulf initiative and its appendices. Additionally, Saleh’s General People’s Congress had the comfortable majority in the parliament, and used this to impede the laws and the work of the government and to halt any projects that serve the revolution and the new situation in the country. Saleh and his party blamed the revolutionary powers for all the failures in running the country, despite the fact that it is a shared responsibility among all the parties in government, especially that the outgoing president himself was still the one who runs most of the country as we shall explain later.
The nature of most of the Arab regimes, and the nature of the Yemeni regime in specific is through its history of political tyranny which resulted in much retardation and deteriorated economy, the absence of democracy and civic life, and the spread of violence and oppression in the country, suggests that the head of the old regime is capable of exploiting the TJ period to turn it into an opportunity for revenge. This is the truth behind the actions of Saleh and his allies in the deep state in Yemen, through the Gulf initiative and especially some of its ambiguous or indefinite articles. The initiative for instance provides that the second transitional period, spanning two years, shall begin after installing a president in an early presidential elections, and ends with holding general elections according to a new constitution and installing a new president. The first transitional period refers to the stretch of time between signing on the initiative until electing the acting president, which happened in February 21, 2012. Some believed that this Mansour’s term shall end on February 2014, while the Security Council resolutions emphasized that Mansour shall remain the legitimate president of Yemen till the end of the transitional period, the period notwithstanding, since the two year term was conditioned by holding the elections.
Additionally, Saleh received support and found leniency from regional and Western powers since he was believed to be an ally in the war against terrorism, and shared with them the fears of the rise of the Islamists, especially the Muslim Brotherhood, after the Arab Spring.
These and other factors paved the way for the deep state to be active and to pose serious threats and to eventually bring down the government to eventually cause complete chaos in the country.
The Gulf Agreement and the Emergence of the Deep State
The parties in Yemen agreed to take the conciliation approach due to the sensitivity of the situation in the Yemeni society and its social fabric. The tribes were armed, and most people in Yemen are also armed, and there was a serious schism between those supporting Saleh and those supporting the revolution. This created a widespread sense of animosity among the people, which posed a real threat on civil peace and stability, and a civil war was eminent. Therefore, the parties agreed to conciliation, and this was supported by the international community and the regional players, since they believed that this approach will reduce the prospects of a civil war and will prevent al-Qaeda from exploiting the chaotic situation in the country to increase its presence and control. Saleh constantly warned and threatened that removing him from power would mean the eruption of war and destruction, a tone that recurred in most of his speeches after the outbreak of the revolt, blackmailing his own people and threatening them of a civil war, while trying to influence the international community which felt that their interests are also under threat in Yemen if Saleh was removed from power. The GCC countries tried to intervene and pushed for conciliation, and the Security Council reserved no efforts in order to put forward an escape plan for Saleh, therefore several resolutions were issued, urging the parties to set together and stick to the Gulf initiative as the only way out of the crisis. These resolutions were resolution 2014 for the year 2011, and resolution 2051 in 2012, and the presidential statement in February 2013.
The Security Council and the countries in the region adopted the Gulf initiative, and they called the parties to adopt it as a basis for a solution in Yemen, and exerted pressure of the leaders of the parties to accept it, despite recurring amendments thereon. Eventually, the initiative was adopted by the parties as a peaceful means to end the conflict. It was in Riyadh, 23 November 2011 where Saleh and representatives of the parties of Yemen signed the initiative, a move that was welcomed by the international community, including the US, although it was not popular among the Yemeni youth who led the revolution in the streets. Cynical about the intentions of Saleh, a group of young Yemeni people called for a demonstration which developed into a march which started from Taiz and headed towards Sana’a to express their rejection of grnating Saleh and his men immunity from persecution according to the Gulf initiative. The protestors walked more than 250 km and reached Sana’a on December 24, but were attacked by security personnel affiliated with Saleh, and 14 people were killed and hundreds were injured and arrested. Mohammad Basindawa, the prime minister, and his Minister of Interior Mohammad Qahtan, threatened to quit their positions unless an investigation is conducted to expose the responsible parties for the violence, but nothing has yet resulted from such investigations, which confirms the ill-intentions of Saleh. Nevertheless, the youth of the revolution eventually acceded to the wishes of their parties’ leaders. This initiative was used by Saleh to regain power through those who represented him in the government, and by strengthening his grip on the state institutions and bodies.
Ali Abdullah Saleh: Head of the Deep State
Although all the political parties agreed to the Gulf initiative which was also welcomed and supported by the international community and the Arab League, it represented a challenge to the Yemeni youth, especially in relation to the partnership with the very regime they revolted against which they realize its oppressive and violent nature, unable to forget the most recent deadly attacks on their fellow protestors when more than 2000 people were killed and more than 1000 people were arrested and kidnapped. The Friday of Dignity (March 18, 2011) was still a fresh memory, where more than 44 people were killed and 200 more protestors were injured in that bloody Friday.
It became evident in Yemen that the presence of Saleh in the political scene in Yemen (representing the deep state) as a head of a party he established to rule the country for decades, and kept running even after his resignation, was a de facto deep state. He even gained more power and control when he was granted immunity from persecution, which enabled him to keep in control of the same official institutions in the country (military institutions, administrative bodies, judiciary, media, intellectuals, writers, tribal leaders, etc…). This was further exacerbated by the fact that he controls half of the cabinet of ministers and several administrative bodies in the governorates and cities around Yemen. Saleh was intentionally trying to disrupt the work of the new system to prove its failure. Therefore, the deep state left the state fall apart and tried to weaken the strength of the country and undermine its powers using every possible means.
Second: Tools used by the deep state in Yemen
The most important tools exploited by the deep state in Yemen are money, the military and the security apparatus in addition to the relations it forged with tribal leaders through buying their allegiances. Additionally, the deep state depends on creating chaos and civil instability by invoking tribal conflicts, land mafias, and even using terrorist groups such as al-Qaeda and the Houthi militias to spread violence and instability in the country.
We shall shed light on some of the heinous and futile practices of the deep state in Yemen that were followed immediately after signing the Gulf initiative on November 23, 2011 and until the eruption of the current civil war all over Yemen.
- Civil structures and institutions
Years of experiences, academic studies, and reports prepared by the Yemeni Center for Strategic Studies revealed that choosing the ministers and the senior officials in Yemen is not based on merits, qualifications, nor devotion and dedication. Such appointments depended by and large on the degree of loyalty of the individual to the leader, thus all the governments ran the country in the manner required by the head of the state. There was only one exception where the prime minister refused to be controlled by the president, who was the late Dr. Faraj Saeed bin Ghanem. It was a short-lived government that worked for less than one year before resignation (September 15, 1997 till May 15 1998). Saleh adopted the criteria of loyalty to the party by individuals and geographical areas therefore the citizens didn’t notice any changes in certain positions in the country as if they are exclusively reserved for specific people and families loyal to the president who share sensitive interests with him. Therefore, no one of these people was able to denounce their loyalty to Saleh after the peaceful protests of February 2011. The only officials who supported the revolution were those who were not deeply involved with the president, except for Ali Mohsen al-Ahmar, commander of the 1st Armoured Division.
The deep state in Yemen was further empowered when some of the figures affiliated with Saleh were appointed in the unity government that was shared between Saleh’s party (General People’s Congress) and the parties of the revolution. Saleh was able then to regain his influence in order to disrupt the work of the government, especially that the Gulf initiative stated that the work of the government should seek agreement by all the concerned parties in all of its practices and decisions. This slowed down the reform process in the country and several decisions were taken despite being incongruent with the objectives and aspirations of the revolution. For instance, the people demanded to the government to take serious steps to protect the journalist and release the detainees who were detained during the protests. They also called for reforms in the military and its leadership and to put an end for corruption. Nevertheless, these demands were not met due to the interference of Saleh as a head of the party that controls half of the cabinets in the government, and more than 70% of the officials in the country are loyal to him.
The deposed Saleh followed several ways to weaken the state such as:
A- Obstructing the reforms and objecting to appointing new officials:
The unity government was completely paralyzed and was not able to introduce any real changes in the state bodies and bureaucracy in a manner that reflects the aspirations of the revolution. The reason behind that was the obstinacy of the GPC and its allies in the government, despite the demands and protests of the people. The prime minister and other officials who believe in change and subscribe to the ideals of the revolution also took to the streets and joined the protestors and the youth and tried to convince them to remain patient and steadfast until the end of the transitional period, unless an agreement is formed before that with the figures affiliated with Saleh regime.
Some of the conservative figures remained in their posts until 2014 before they were replaced to appease the Houthis, and some of them are still holding these positions until this day, like the governor of al-Mahwit Ahmad Ali Mohsen al-Ahwal who is closely connected with the deposed president, despite being among the accused of killing protestors in the Friday of Dignity. On the other hand, the governors of the Imran and Jawf from the Reform Party were changed on the demands of the Houthis, and replaced by Mohammad bin Hasan Dammaj in Imran, and Mohammad bin Salem bin Abboud in Jawf. Later, Mohammad bin Hasan was replaced by Mohammad Saleh Shamlan, a figure loyal to Saleh, on June 8 2014 as demands by the Houthis. The same thing happened in Jawf when Mohammad Salem was changed in December 23, 2014 for the same reasons.
Mohammad bin Hasan Dammaj is still detained by the Houthis since September 2014 although he is a 75 year old man. His son said that he received a phone call from his father in April 18 and told him that he is detained in an arms warehouse in Nuqom mountain in Sana’a according to a report by Amnesty International.
The GPC and its bloc in the parliament maintained their control in the local council in the governorates and directorates of Yemen although the legal terms came to an end. They argued that their terms in these council are linked to the extension of the terms of the Parliament according to the Gulf initiative and that will remain so until the upcoming elections according to the new constitution.
B- Attempting to disturb the work of the government in order to lead to its failure:
The deposed president was well aware of the overall situation in Yemen and he knew the nature of the fabric of the society, its awareness, and its basic needs. Therefore he created several crises using the people affiliated with him in the government and the bodies of the state, especially the local council in the governorates and directorates. They intentionally delayed the paycheck of the people, they repeatedly cut electric power, and manipulated the shares of oil and gasoline in several areas which caused great harm to the people. These practices led to increased prices of basic food items and fuel prices which affected the transportation system and agriculture. This coincided with a fierce media campaign against the government and the revolution, especially al-Islah party, using slogans and signs blaming al-Islah, the Brotherhood, etc… for the deterioration in the country, while praising the old regime and demanding its return.
In addition to a deteriorated economy, Yemen was suffocated by several crises, especially in relation to electricity and gas. Such problem forced people to take to the streets on June 2014 to protest the power shortage in Sana’a, and some of them committed some acts of vandalism which was considered by Mohammad Basindawa as a coup attempt by Ali Abdullah Saleh.That was not the first time such an accusation was leveled at Saleh, since that was the fifth attempt according to some media outlets. It is known that tensions arose between the current and the former presidents, which made Hadi order on June 2014 the closure of Yemen Today station which is affiliated with Saleh, accusing it of provocation and inciting chaos. The GPC issued a joint statement with its allies condemning such measures and accusing Hadi of negligence and inadequacy and that was also on June 11, 2014. The GPC and its allies issues a joint statement condemning president Hadi and accusing him of failure to carrying out his duties on June 11.
The deep state continued to create chaos and spread rumors in order to hinder any reforms and development in the country, and the economic situation deteriorated to an unprecedented level, especially in relation to oil derivatives, and the pressure mounted on the government. President Hadi decided to cut the subsidies on oil product s on July 30, 2014 and the fuel prices doubled, a move that was very unpopular among the people, especially that the salaries were not improved despite many promises by the government that seemed unable to reject the decision related to cutting the subsidies. Therefore, the prime minister submitted his resignation to the president, and the people took to the streets in huge protests organized by the leaders of the GPC and their supporters in addition to the supporters of Houthi. Other people participated in the protests, responding to the media campaigns and rejecting the government austerity measures.
This situation was exploited by Saleh who allied with the Houthis to regain control in the country and depose of Hadi.
2- The Military Institution and the Security Apparatus
The military and the security bodies in Yemen are the real embodiments of the deep state in Yemen under the rule of Saleh who made that possible in two basic means:
First: Saleh appointed close family and relatives in sensitive military and security positions. Here are some examples:
- Ahmad Ali Abdullah Saleh (Son), Brig. General, born in 1972. Commander of the Presidential Guard and Special Guard (2012-2014) which consist of brigades.
- Mohammad Saleh al-Ahmar (step brother) Commander of the Air Force and the 6th Brigade until 2012
- Mohammad Ali Mohsen al-Ahmar (close relative): Brig. General, Commander of the Air Forces
- Ali Mohsen al-Ahmar: Brig. General: Commander of the North Western Region, Commander of the 1st Armored Division. On March 21, Ali Mohsen supported the revolution and protected the squares where the protestors gathered after the Friday of Dignity on March 18, 2011 when more than 45 people died and hundreds were injured.
- Brigades (one, two, three, and eight) and Brigade 130, 56, and Khaled bin al-Waleed camp, which are all commanded by Saleh brothers and relatives
- Central Security Forces, consisting of more than 10 Brigades independent from the ministry of interior. The CSF were previously led by Mohammad Abdullah Saleh (brother) and then by his son Yahia Mohammad Abdullah until 2012.
- Tariq Mohammad Abdulla Saleh: Commander of the Special Presidential Guards
- Ammar Mohammad Abdullah Saleh: Colonel, Deputy National Security Agency, and de facto leader of the Agency. 
Second: Saleh divided the military according to the degree of loyalty:
When a new generation of the young leaders of Saleh sons and relatives emerged, he began preparing for a new phase in structuring the army, especially since the year 2004 when his son Ahmad became commander of the presidential guard. Saleh attempted to concentrate most support to that division in order to weaken the 1st Armored Division, exploiting the conflict with the Houthi militias in order to realize that scheme. He involved the 1st Armored Division in six wars with the Houthis in Sa’da between 2004 and 2009. These wars could have been stopped by a phone call from Saleh if he wanted to according to figures close to him and to the Houthis, such as Hasan Zaid, the Secretary General of Haqq party.
The Houthis proved stronger and better equipped after each war, and in 2009 the militias reached the outskirts of Imran governorate which is close to the capital after it gained control over Sa’da. The Houthis were then in several border villaged in Saudi Arabia which forced the latter to enter the war against the Houthis to expel them, which ended in a secret agreement between the Houthis and the Saudis through the interference of tribal leaders. The war also stopped with the Yemeni forces. Some leaked documents from Wikileaks showed that Saleh gave information to the Saudi Air Forces including coordinates of a military position where Ali Mohsen al-Ahmard was stationed, claiming that the Houthis were there.Ali Mohsen was aware of Saleh’s plots, and therefore he supported the revolting youth and pledged to protect the protestors in the squares. On the other hand, the forces of the presidential guard were attacking the tribes of Arhab and bani Hareth that supported the revolution.
Saleh did not taken the stance of Ali Mohsen al-Ahmar for granted, and decided to ruthlessly crush him and leaders allied with him, so he devised a plan to realize this, moving in two simultaneous directions:
Saleh attempted to scatter the generals and leaders affiliated with Mohsen and sent them to the fronts to fight al-Qaeda in the south, while he handed the governorate of Imran in the north to Mohsen’s opponents (the Houthi militias) where Brigade 310 is stationed linked to the 1st Armored Division of Mohsen. In a documented report by Mohammad Abdul Malek, published by Yemen Press on March 6, 2015 in an interview with al-Qsheibi where the latter said that he was in touch with the Minister of Defense and reported to him on a daily basis, warning that the Houthi were about to enter Imran then Sana’a but his warning were ignored and were not taken seriously, declaring that they will remain neutral!!. Another figure close to al-Qsheibi told Al-Arabi Al Jadeed newspaper that when the Houthi militias took control of Brigade 310 more than 59 officers from the brigade were bribed with more than 800 million Riyals.
The fall of Imran effectively meant the eminent fall of the capital, since Imran is the fort that protects the capital from the north and the west. Imran’s strategic importance also stems from the fact that it is the stronghold of the sons of the late Sheikh Abdullah bin Husein al-Ahmar , the leader of Hashed tribe, a very important tribe that defended the state and the revolution of September 1962. The governorate of Imran was by and large loyal to the sons of al-Ahmar who supported and protected the revolution of 2011, especially Hamid bin Abdullah al-Ahmar, a business tycoon and a leader in Islah party, which is also very popular in Imran. Therefore, the fall of Imran portended the fall of the capital, and eventually the whole country, since Imran is only 50 km away from Sana’a.
Retired general Mohsen Khasrouf believes that Imran was defeated due to a treason and betrayal, and that Sana’a was handed over, since the war on the outskirts of Imran continued until the defeat of the brigade and the death of al-Qsheibi on July 8 2014.
To the shock of most Yemenis, president Hadi bid a visit to the governorate the very next day and stated that it is now under the control of the state!! That was very strange, since his own convoy was secured by the Houthi militias!, and the dead body of Hamid al-Qsheibi was still held by the Houthis who wanted to show the dead corpse to the militia leaders to revenge themselves.!
It was clear for most Yemenis that Saleh and those loyal to him are the ones who caused the fall of Imran which was not possible without the collusion of the major officials in the government and the ministry of defense.
The Presidential Guard and The Deep State:
When Imran fell to the Houthis the way was paved to them and to Saleh to enter the capital and finish their scheme of toppling the government and taking revenge on those considered enemies by Saleh. This was made possible due to several reasons:
- The weakness caused by the defeat of the Division that promised to protect the revolution under the leadership of Ali Mohsen al-Ahmar who was removed from his position as a leader in the region and the division and appointed instead as a consultant to the president on defense and security issues, which moved him away from the center of control and influence.
- The media campaign inside and outside Yemen which was tried to smear the revolution and those supporting it, which became even more powerful after the military coup in Egypt on July 3, 2013.
- The state of chaos and turmoil caused by the deep state which was exacerbated by the imprudent decisions taken by Hadi on issues related to economy in specific, which helped move the conflict to the capital when the people took to the streets to protest the hiking fuel prices, which was exploited by the GPC and the Houthis who cordoned off the capital and blocked the maid roads leading to Sana’a airport. They began a “sit-in” in August which lasted till October. The protestors and those taking part in the sit-ins were armed, and that helped them enter the capital. During that period there were negotiations to control the crisis before the Houthi militias decided to enter the capital on Septermber 21, 2014, under the pretense of defending the people of Yemen!
Although the president conceded and tried to reach a settlement and form a new government in agreement with all the parties, including the Houthis, under international supervision represented by Jamal Benomar, the UN special envoy to Yemen, the new alliance led by Saleh demanded more than that. He decided to take control of the capital in coordination with the forces of the republican guard, the private guard, and the Houthi militias. When the Houthi militias were besieging the capital from all its entrances, ant e republican guard were controlling the sensitive positions around the capital and on its entrances. On the northern entrance there was the Sabaha camps, one of the largest camps of the republican guard, and on the western entrance there were some other camps linked with the republican guard, most important of which was Istikbal camp. On the southern entrance of the capital stationed camps 48 which is a main camps for the reserve forces. This means that entering Sana’a could not have succeeded without an agreement and collusion among these parties.
Reasons of the Army Disunion
In an interview with Al Jazeera channel, Dr. Abdullah al-Haderi, a Yemeni military expert, said that the disunion and weakness in the Yemeni army was a result of years of corruption under the rule of Saleh. The Yemeni army has several allegiances and lacks strategic objectives and a national project in its ideology and structures. Dr. Haderi brought up what Saleh himself once said: “we have an army without a mission, just ready for parades”. Similarly, colonel Abdul Qadir al-Du’eis mentioned that the army personnel are not involved in any educational programs, and they generally lack any awareness of their duties and national responsibilities. He also mentioned that the Yemeni military institution is divided among many allegiances, and it has been always used as a political card, since Saleh arbitrarily discharged any military official who shows any sign of disloyalty. The fact that many of Saleh’s relatives control the leadership of the army made the army personnel more loyal to those figures than to their own country and people.
A lot of obscurity surrounds what happened in Sana’a when more than 100,000 of the republican guard handed over the city to a five-thousand-strong militia on September 21. The fall of Sana’a indicates the failure of president Hadi in retaining his power and control in the country, partly due to the plots of Saleh and corruption in the state bodies. The situation is further exacerbated by the internal strives and the multiple loyalties within the army, even before the fall of Saleh himself, since these divisions only increased after 2011.
President Abd Rabbu Hadi Mansour
Mansour was not decisive and was very slow in taking major decisions, which was his main weakness, especially in issues related to the military and the security apparatus. He was also kept in the dark in regards to major administrative issues, and many decisions were not based on accurate information, which render them ineffective. The same applies to the way he handled feedback, which resulted in undermining his decisions and instructions. This happened for instance when the people of Dammaj asked for support to end the siege imposed by the Houthis, and Hadi responded by forming committees to negotiate with the Houthis, and the result was devastating: the people of Dammaj were forced out of their city on January 2014, an unprecedented and a very odd event that never happened in another country. There were similar stories with Yemeni families and individuals in Hawth, Imran, Sana’a, Khamir, and Arhab, and every other governorate attacked by the Houthis. Eventually, president Hadi himself was displaced within his own country!!
Hadi enjoys some acceptance and support outside Yemen and within, since he was elected as a president in the transitional period, and received more than 6.5 million votes on February 21, 2012. On the regional and international levels, Hadi was the nominee in the Gulf initiative which was adopted by the Security Council and was also welcomed by the Arab League. Nevertheless, Hadi didn’t succeed in his position as a president in the transitional period, his decisions were slow and lacked decisiveness, and many had doubts regarding his intentions and policies.
Hadi’s first real challenge was to improve security and unite the army and revamp it to ensure unity among its different units and increase its capabilities and performance. He also had to replace some old military leaders by national figures not chosen because of their region or tribe, and to vest the powers of the army in the Chief Commander of the armed forces and the ministry of defense. Therefore, Hadi issued a presidential decree on August 2012 to divide the army into only four major units, dissolving the 1st Armored Division, and the Republican Guard, and other units that were merged into the ministry of defense. Hadi also discharged Mohammad Abdullah Saleh from his duties as commander of the special security forces, and did not do the same with other figures, such as Ahmad Ali Abdullah Saleh or Ali Mohsen al-Ahmar until after six months, when he appointed Ali Mohsen al-Ahmar a consultant for the president on defense and security, and Ahmad Ali Abdullah Saleh an ambassador to the UAE while Sanad Mohammad Abdullah al-Rahwa was appointed Chief of Staff.
As expected, nothing changed about the republican guard but the name, since it was changed into reserve forces led by Brig. General Ali bin Ali al-Jai’fi who was commander of the eastern military region. Some media outlets suggested that al-Jai’fi was not able to control the reserve forces since they were still loyal to Ahmad Ali Saleh, especially that his men were still in their leading positions, and they were receiving order from Ahmad himself. Sadiq Dweid for instance, one of Saleh’s relatives, was, and still is, the head of the Special Forces Commander Office, and General Abdullah M’iyad administered the financial issues. Therefore, those in control were the men affiliated with Ahmad Ali Saleh. When the Houthis entered the capital, some websites close to them mentioned that the reserve units will remain neutral and shall only serve their country. It is taken for granted that the reserve units (previously the republican guard) were still commanded by Ali Saleh and coordinate their actions with the Houthis even before September 2014, and some sources mentioned that the republican guard took part in fight over Sana’a in civil uniform.
The Former Defense Minister and His Lethal Role in the Deep State
It is now confirmed that the former minister of defense, Mohammad al-Hasani, colluded with the Houthis and handed over Imran and the capital to the militias then quietly left on November 2014 without being questioned by president Hadi. He was rather appointed an ambassador, and the Yemenis watched him meeting with the Houthi leader, Abu Ali al-Hakim, who led the battles to control Imran, and who was considered by the UN Security Council one of the figures that obstruct the peace process in Yemen.
The former minister of defense colluded with Saleh when he pushed for a presidential decision to replace general Mohammad al-Maqdishi, commander of the 6th military region that includes Sana’a, Imran, and Sa’da, who was very close to al-Qsheibi, and was replaced by Mohammad Yahia al-Hawri who was also promoted to a general. This was the wish of the Houthis, since al-Hawri was close to Affash, and who participated in the assassination of the president Ibrahim al-Hamdi in 1977. Al-Hawri did his job, and did not intervene in Imran, and facilitated the mission of the Houthi to enter Sana’a, especially that he convinced the tribes affiliated with him to cooperate with the Houthis and never attack them.
He also made several decisions and appointed several people to ensure the success of the Houthis mission to control Sana’a. He appointed Mansour Mohsen commander of Brigade 35 at the entrance of Ta’iz to the strategic port of Mokha on the Red Sea, replacing Yousuf Mohammad al-Shraji, a local of Ta’iz and a supporter of the revolution of 2011. Many considered this a misuse of power by the minister, since such decisions should be taken by the approval of the president himself according to article 119 of the Yemeni law.
A documentary appeared on Al Jazeera channel on May 21, 2015 revealed the plot against Brigade 310 in Imran and the treason committed by some military leaders, and how the state, the president, the ministry of defense, and major military leaders left al-Qsheibi to fight the Houthi militias alone. The documentary also confirmed the presence of communications among the leaders of the militias and some military and civilian figures.
The Deep State and the Alliance with the Houthi Militias
Several meetings and investigations show that some civil and tribal members affiliated with the GPC headed by Saleh joined the Houthi militias. Among them for instance was Ali Hmeid Jleidan, Mabkhout al-Sheikh, Mujahid al-Heidari, the sons of Mujahid abu Shawarib, and Yousuf al-Gholi head of the Ghola tribe. This was revealed by general Mohsen Khasrouf, and a journalist named Daif Allah al-Qahali, a local of Imran, mentioned that those people met with Abd Alhakim al-Houthi and Abu Alo al-Hakim, two principal leaders of the Houthis, in their homes and the Houthi camps. This indicates the role of Saleh and those loyal to him among the officials and tribal leaders in undermining the rule of law and preventing any prospects for reform and stability in Yemen. This alliance was not a secret in Yemen, since several Yemeni newspapers started writing about meetings between Yousuf al-Mdani and Ahmad Ali Saleh before being removed from his post. Additionally, general al-Asbabhi from the Yemeni police academy revealed in an interview with Al Arabi Al Jadeed newspaper in 2011 that thousands of Houthis were recruited in the republican guard. As a matter of fact, the situation on the ground says it all, since the forced of the republican guard were standing with the Houthis and fighting with them in all of the governorates that the Houthis attacked and controlled. This alliance was prearranged by Saleh when he was still in power, and some suggest that Iran is also involved in this scheme.
Third: Developments of The Conflict of Yemen
The Fall of Sana’a: What was exposed?
On September 21, 2104 the Houthi militias entered Sana’a from more than one direction, and controlled the state institutions within some hours!!, despite the presence of 15 military brigades of the republican guard that were supposedly protecting the capital and controlling the entrances to the capital city of Sana’a. In an unprecedented event in the history of armies in the world, these forces decided to remain neutral, and worse, they attacked the 1st Armored Division when it kept resisting and defending the capital. When the treason was exposed, Ali Mohsen ordered his forces to retreat in order to save them and to prevent a more severe disaster from happening. Mohsen left the country and headed to Saudi Arabia, and he was, and still is, the president advisor on defense and security issues!!
What is the secret behind the fall of Sana’a? who participated in the plot? Were the Muslim Brotherhood of the Islah party targeted by that? What are the interests of those who allied and colluded to see Sana’a fall to the Houthis?
“Sana’a did not fall, it was handed over”. These are the words of Mohsen Khasrouf, a political and military analyst and a retired army general. He finds it very odd that 10 armed men break into the headquarters of the Special Forces and leave with 50 tanks, 40 missile transporter, and other equipment. According to a report by Abaad Studies and Research, almost 70% of the weaponry and equipment of the army were taken by the Houthis. This indicates that this was not a revolution against corruption as they call it, it was rather a comprehensive revenge operation against all the leading figures in the revolution of 11 February, and those responsible for overthrowing Saleh, especially those affiliated with the Islah party who are considered Saleh’s archenemies who prevented him from realizing his dreams of handing the authority to his son after him. The Houthis on the other hand also thought of the Islah party as their enemy. This hostility is historical where the Zaidis, influenced by the Twelvers shia Musilims, feel great hostility towards Sunni Muslims, especially after the repeated visits of Badr Addin al-Houthi and his son Hussein, the Houthis godfather, to Iran. The Zaidis considers their Sunni counterparts represented by Islah as the ones who hold an Islamic project which refutes their claimed theological right to rule and the idea they advocate in the society which seek to divide it into classes, exploiting those who are not able to expose their claims.
Islah party succeeded in representing the society from different backgrounds, and had a presence among the nomad tribes and the people of the cities and played an influential role through its members in the colleges and Islamic schools that teach Islamic sciences. Such schools were legally banned in 2001 when Abdul Qader Bajmal, the head of the GPC majority government, banned these schools after Saleh’s visit to the US. The decision was made to appease the Socialist Party and the Zaidi Haq party and others. Nevertheless, Islah party continued its efforts through charities and Quran schools all over Yemen, that’s why the Houthi militias targeted such schools when they entered any city or village.
There were also attacks that targeted the houses of the revolutionary figures and social activists such as the houses of Sheikh Abdul Majid Zandani, Hamid Abdullah al-Ahmar, Tawakkul Kirman, Mohammad Mohammad Qahtan, Ali Asshal, Al Omrani, and Abdussalam Ashwal, in addition to the headquarters of the Islah party, Iman university, the hospital of the Science and Technology University, and some human rights organizations that were not loyal to Saleh and his regime. The Houthis also broke into most of the state official bodies, such as the Ministers Council, ministry of defense, the military headquarters, the parliament, the central bank, the radio and television headquarters and other governmental bodies. While Saleh and his interests were intact, although they claim that what they did was in the spirit of the revolution of 11 February, and they rather protected and secured him.All the figures loyal to Saleh were also safe and their interests were not damamged.
Accordingly, Saleh role in these events was very clear; he masterminded these maneuvers and plans in order to remain in control and revenge his enemies. One of Hadi’s advisors tole Reuters once that the Yemeni forces fight al-Qaeda effectively, but because of tribal and geographical affiliations they refuse to fight Houthis when ordered to do so, and that politics might have a lot to explain that as well.
Ali Abdullah Saleh, who once described his own maneuvers boastfully as “dancing on the heads of snakes”, wanted to eradicate the Islamists who were responsible of overthrowing him after 33 years of rule. According to Reuters, an American official document indicated that Saleh was a main supporter of the Houthis insurgence, since he believed that instability will enable him to regain power through a coup.
We also mentioned that several officers and soldiers loyal to Saleh who were discharged from their duties in 2012 joined the Houthi rebels in order to control Sana’a.
Islah Party Position on the Fall of Sana’a
Several reports indicated that popular opposition fronts were formed by Islah party in order to join in with the forces loyal to Hadi and Ali al-Ahmar. Nevertheless, the Islah leaders ordered the withdrawal of its forces, and the same move was taken by al-Ahmar, after they realized that a trap was set for them in order to engage them in a civil war that destroys their political future and that the party will be considered a terrorist organization under the 7th chapter. Al Quds Al Araby newspaper talked about an Omani mediation that helped the Houthis control the political decision in Sana’a and eradicate the Islah party, and that was exposed by Mohammad Qahtan, a leader in the Islah, who is still detained by the Houthis until this day. Qahtan said that Hadi asked the Islah to set up tents for set-ins in support of the government beside the tents set up by the Houthis before that used military force, and Qahtan refused Hadi’s idea, and told him that “we set up camps, and then you told both parties to practice self-control! We shall not do this.. The Houthis have a problem with the authority not the Islah”.
Hadi’s Resignation and the Constitutional Vacuum
The Houthis took over Sana’a while Hadi was stationed in the palace, and that was exploited by the Houthis who issued several decisions through him and appointed several Houthi figures in sensitive positions such as the ministry of interior, defense, and the national security apparatus. Additionally, they appointed leaders of brigades and governors and other officials loyal to them. The pressure amounted on the president and he had to resign in an official letter sent to the parliament on January 22, 2015. The prime minister had resigned before that in protest against the actions and conduct of the Houthis and Saleh in the ministries and governmental bodies. The Houthis installed what they called revolutionary committees in all the state institutions and offices as a sort of control over the their work, and these committees took control of everything despite being unaware of the basic bureaucratic procedures and measures, since most of them come from the mountains and villages, and they only know how to fight. Hadi’s resignation was a move welcomed by a lot of the Yemeni citizens who were afraid of the Houthis control over the city under the legitimacy of Hadi.
Nevertheless, Yemen descended into a constitutional vacuum, and the parliament was not even allowed to convene to decide on the resignation, since the constitution stipulates that the parliament is entitled to accept the resignation of the president by a majority vote, where the vice president becomes the acting president in that case. Otherwise, a parliamentary committee undertakes the responsibilities of the president, and if the parliament was dissolved the cabinet of ministers steps in for a period not exceeding 60 days until the election of a new president. Article 116 of the constitution of Yemen provides that in case the parliament rejects the president’s resignation he shall be entitled to submit his resignation again within three months, and the parliament in that case much accept it.
Thus Yemen descended into chaos and became again under the rule of Saleh and his gangs in the disguise of a new revolution led by the Houthis. The president and the prime minister and many members of the cabinet were placed under house arrest under the threat of armed militias.
The Houthis Declaration and Hadi’s Legitimacy
The Houthis and their partners announced on February 6, 2015 the constitutional declaration which dissolved the parliament and established a transitional revolutionary council to run the country’s affairs. The declaration called for forming a 551-member parliament including members of the dissolved parliament. This was considered a coup against the legitimacy and such measures were faced by local and international rejection.
President Hadi managed escape Sana’a and headed to Aden on February 21, 2015 and withdrew his resignation.
This development embarrassed Saleh and the Houthis, and Saleh openly threatened president Hadi on March 9, 2015 saying that those who fled Sana’a shall find themselves taking the sea to Djibouti. On the other hand, the Houthis leader called his followers in a televised speech on March 22, 2015 to heard to Aden and the south to capture Hadi!!
This escalation further inflamed the situation in Yemen, especially that Saleh felt that Hadi’s comeback as president foiled his plan to return to ruling the country, when the parliament, led by Yahia al-Rai’I who is a close figure to Saleh, calls for presidential elections when the whole country is under the control of the Houthi militias.
His ally, the Houthi leader, called for the establishment of a joint presidential council to replace Hadi, controlled by Saleh and the Houthis, and to impose this council with some formal representation of the Joint Meeting parties. The Islah party insisted on Hadi’s legitimacy in the discussions that took place in the Movenpick hotel under the supervision of Jamal Benomar, then the UN special envoy to Yemen. The Islah leader rejected the idea of an alternative presidential council, since this contradicts the Gulf initiative and the resolutions of the Security Council. This position was further clarified by a representative of the party in the negotiations, Mohammad Qahtan, on March 11, 2015.
The Arab Intervention in Yemen: a new phase in the conflict
Yemen witnessed a chain of events when Hadi announced Aden a temporary capital, considering all the decisions and measures taken after September 21, 2014 void and cancelled since they were made under threats. The minister of defense, Mahmoud Sbeihi, also managed to escape the house arrest in Sana’a and arrived in Aden to join Hadi, and the latter instructed Khaled Bahah to resume his responsibilities as a prime minister after he was released by the Houthis. Such developments made the conflict in Aden inevitable. Saleh was still able to influence the army and the security forces, and the Air Forces were even used to attack the presidential palace in Aden. Hadi was one again ineffective in taking major decisions, since he kept the commander of the special security forces in Aden, who is loyal to Saleh, and when Hadi decided later on to discharge him from his duty he rejected his decision, and fights erupted in Aden, and the situation got worse when forces of the military supported that commander from Lahaj and al-Anad. Hadi was a prey for another time for treasons, since the minister of defense and some other leaders were arrested by the Houthis and forces loyal to Saleh. At that point, Hadi had to flee to Oman, and from there he headed to Riyadh where he asked the GCC states to intervene to save Yemen, and he also called the Security Council to execute the resolutions related to Yemen. King Salman bin Abdul Aziz declared that the GCC states shall intervene in Yemen in order to protect the legitimacy, which heralded a military intervention in Yemen codenamed Operation Decisive Storm. The Saudi-led coalition, excluding Oman, and with the participation of the Sudan, Morocco, Egypt, and Jordan, heralded a new and different phase of the conflict in Yemen.
Fourth: The Fall of the State: Regional and International Positions
One of the signs that indicated the presence of a regional and international collusion with the Houthis is that the ambassadors of the 10 countries supporting the Gulf initiative, except Qatar, did leave Sana’a even after the Houthis had entered the capital. Some Yemeni newspapers mentioned that the Houthi sent confirmation letters to those countries clarifying that they are only interested in toppling the government, and they shall only attack the 1sth Division, the Iman University, in addition to removing the Islah leaders from their positions in the country. They also stated that they shall be willing afterwards to sign a consensual agreement that realizes stability and enhances cooperation under the legitimacy of Hadi.
The Houthi repeatedly used the pretense of fighting terrorism and the eminent danger of Islamists represented by the MB when they take part in the government, exaggerating such threats on the regional peace and stability. This discourse was repeatedly used by top officials and intellectuals inside Yemen and in other countries, especially in the UAE, Egypt, and SA, where the MB was always accused of terror and placed in these countries’ lists of terrorist organizations.
The position of SA was the most significant, since it is the major power in the region due to its huge share of the global oil market, the backbone of every economy of the world. SA is the major oil producer and exporter in the world with the largest oil reserves, and since the interests of the Western countries, including the security of the state of Israel, shall definitely be affected by the rise of the Islamists, they naturally supported the rebels in Yemen, although this was against their ideals about democracy and human rights. The West realizes that the emergence of democracies in the Arab world will affect their interests and control in the region, therefore they decided to stand against any developmental project, especially if advocated by Islamists. The cynical approach of SA towards the MB is explained by the fact that the movement was the main catalyst of change in the Arab Spring revolts, and they were the movements affiliated with the MB were the most organized and prepared to replace the autocracies in their countries, which is a threat to the regime in the Kingdom. Therefore, SA took a belligerent position regarding the revolts in Egypt, Yemen, Tunisia, and Libya, especially that the Kingdom was influenced by a rising liberal trend in the time of King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz. Liberals in SA influenced the decisions and attitudes of the country, especially that they enjoy close relations with the UAE, a fierce challenger to the rise of the Islamists in the Arab world, which caused turmoil and supported military coups in the Arab spring countries, since they supported the Sisi in Egypt against the elected president, Mohammad Morsi, and backed Haftar in Libya.
This absence or disorientation of SA was met by the increased influence of Iran in the region, which was very powerful and effective. Iran supported their allies with money, arms, and advisors. Therefore, the Houthis were able to spread their control in Yemen. Saudi Arabia welcomed the Peace and National Partnership Agreement after the fall of Sana’a, and was quick to send its ambassador there, which meant that SA accepts the control of the Houthis and Saleh. Mohammad bin Hweiden, professor of International Relations at the University of Emirates, said in an article published in the Bayan newspaper in the UAE on September 30, 2014, that the international position regarding the fall of Sana’a is perplexing, saying that the silence of the international community on what took place in Yemen indicated that what happened was advantageous for the international and regional powers. The Houthis entered Sana’a knowing that they shall accomplish their goals, and they went there carrying fireworks, since they were confident that they will celebrate their victories in the capital. They came with the peace and national partnership agreement to be signed with the government represented by Hadi. It was clearly an arranged deal.
As the militias were entering Sana’a, the UN special envoy to Yemen, Jamal Benomar, was hosted by Abdul Malek al-Houthi in Sa’da in order to resume the absurd farce of negotiations and agreements, as if all the previous efforts and agreements that were carried out under his own supervision became ineffective. This meant that the national dialogue conference (March 18, 2013- January 25, 2014) under international supervision and involvement by the ten supporting countries, representing all the parties, civil organizations and bodies, women and youth, and the Houthis (who were represented by 35 members out of 565 members) which cost a lot of time and money, was cancelled and replaces by the Houthi project of the “Peace and Partnership” that was forced by them after the fall of Sana’a and signed in the presidential palace on the very day of September 21, 2014. Representatives of the Yemeni parties, and the Houthis signed that agreement in the presence of Hadi and Jamal Benomar. The agreement was also welcomed by the 10 supporting countries!!
Dr. Walid al-Majid wrote in his blog that Saudi Arabia’s reaction was meek, and he mentioned that the Guardia on November 2013 reported that Saudis supported the Houthis in Yemen in an attack on political Islam in the region, including the Islah party. The report says that Saleh Habra, a leading Houthi figure, went to SA through London to meet with the head of the Saudi intelligence, and that when the Houthis entered Sana’a the Yemeni newspapers mentioned that Abdul Malek al-Houthi met with Khaled bin Bandar bin Abdulaziz, the head of the general intelligence in SA in a border area to discuss the nature of the Saudi-Houthi coordination to put an end to the Islah party. Previously, SA had abandoned the salafis in Dammaj and left them with their families to be expelled by the Houthis out of the city. It was understood then that there was a kind of Saudi-Houthi understanding, which made Ali al-Bakheiti, a leading Houthi figure, to say that the Houthis have never been, and shall never be, part of any action that targets SA and its people. The Houthis more than once stressed that they shall respect the relations with the neighboring state of SA, especially in relation to protecting the borders against the attacks of al-Qaeda in Yemen.
The Results of the Weak International Position
Since the overthrown president was the one who controls the whole play through his loyalists in the deep state, he convinced the Houthis who were ecstatic with triumph and power to go further and ignore all the agreements and local and international conventions. He wanted them to attacks and control more governorates, and to make Hadi grant them more powers through appointments that will further enhance their grip on the country. When the draft constitution was put forward by a committee including representatives of the Houthis on January 17, 2015, it was handed over to Ahmad bin Mubarak, head of the president’s office who was later abducted by the Houthis in order to prevent the people of Yemen to vote on it in a general poll. Some intelligence information suggests later the deposed president instructed the militias to abduct the man, since Saleh was opposing the draft of the constitution.
There was a dangerous turnabout of events at that point, and that’s when the Houthis attacked the presidential palace on January 19 after some clashes with the guards, most of them relatives of Hadi, and some leaders of the guard and the 2nd division surrendered their positions and the arms warehouses to the Houthis after being instructed to do so by Saleh and his son, Ahmad who was once the commander of the republican guard. President Hadi was placed under house arrest as we mentioned before.
Jamal Benomar, against the backdrop of all the clashes and attacks, was still working to grant the Houthis international cover after each escalation, calling for negotiations among the parties despite the circumstances under the which the president was placed, and even after the resignation of the government and the president, and the arrest of thousands of Islah members. Benomar insisted on his position even after the Houthi introduced the constitutional declaration by which they annulled the legitimacy of the president and the parliament as we mentioned earlier.
Benomar, the former UN envoy to Yemen, kept legitimizing the actions of the Houthis even after Hadi had left the capital and moved to Aden, and even after he had been attacked and surrounded in Aden before leaving to SA, which clearly indicates that Benomar was also colluding with the Houthis. The Yemeni writer and activist Marwan al-Ghfouri said that Benomar visited Yemen 38 times, and some visits lasted for several days!! He poses questions on the reasons behind such visits and the outcomes thereof, and why these visits did not stop the deterioration of the situation in the country? He also poses questions on why Benomar did not even once mention that the Houthi were involved in violence in Yemen, and that he never condemned their attack on the capital? It should be stated clearly that Benomar was colluding with the militias, and that the constitutional declaration was agreed upon between him and the Houthis, according to a Houthi official.
Despite several earnest implorations by Dr. Riad Yassin who was appointed a foreign minister by Hadi, to the GCC and the Security Council to intervene and protect the country, and his calls to the Kings and Princes of the Gulf to militarily intervene in Yemen to weaken the rebels and to enact the resolutions of the Security Counil, Jamal Benomar went on in his attempts to reach a new deal. Nevertheless, the situation deteriorated dramatically, and the Houthi militias and Saleh were oblivious to the changes that took place in SA after King Abdulla had passed away.
Iran’s Influence in Yemen
The Gulf countries realized the increasing threat posed by Iran due to its intervention in Yemen, especially that many Iranian officials expressed their support to the actions of the Houthis there. One Iranian official mentioned that Sana’a is the fourth Arab capital to join the Iranian front, or what he calls the front of resistance. Iran went further and signed an aviation agreement with the Houthis to operate 14 flights between Iran and Sana’a a week, although there was not any official agreement with Iran on this issue before. The Houthis released some Iranian military staff who were aboard the confiscated Iranian ship (Jehan 1) in 2013. They were freed when some Houthi rebels attacked the National Security headquarters on September 25, 2014 as reported by Asharq Alawsat newspaper.
The Gulf states discretely notified Saleh to action to stop the Houthis violations, then warned him that the national security of SA is in a perilous state due to the deteriorates situation in Yemen, especially that the Houthis are in control of the country and they openly cooperate with Iran, which poses a real threat to the Kingdom, which was particularly alarmed when some brigades of the Yemeni army conducted military drills on the borders with SA with the participation of the Houthi militia on March 21, 2015.
King Salman declared that the GCC countries shall launch the Decisive Storm Operation in Yemen, which coincided with the shift in positions by different countries. Saleh did not see this happening due to the history of his warm relations with SA, and the Kingdom extended what seemed limitless support to him until the death of King Abdullah. When King Salman became the King in SA the smear campaign against the MB was put to a halt, especially that SA found itself trapped by Iran from the east, and by Syria and Lebanon from the north, and by Yemen from the south. Saleh and the Houthis were indifferent to what happened in Syria and Iraq, and insistently brought turmoil and chaos to their own country, blinded by their hatred, greed, and bigotry.
The US and the International Position before March 26
The international stance in regards to the collapse of the state in Yemen was not promising before March 26. The US stated that there was a smooth transfer of power in Yemen after the constitutional declaration, which means its acceptance of the declaration. The spokesperson of the Department of State stated that the US did not find any links between the Houthis and Iran. Some US officials, and Houthis, indicated that the US cooperates with the Houthis to fight al-Qaeda in Yemen. As for the rest of the 10 supporting countries they aired their condemnations and pleaded to the parties. When Hadi demanded that some figures should be sanctioned for their disruptive role in Yemen, the US only imposed some minor sanctions against Saleh that were not enough to impede his actions, in addition to Abdul Khaliq Badr Addin and Abdullah Yahia al-Hakim.
The US Secretary of State John Kerry stated later that Iran was partially responsible for the collapse of Sana’a due to their support of the Houthi rebels, which was a decisive factor, then he added that Iran was also shocked for the dramatic turn of events on Yemen, and that Iran wanted to launch a national dialogue among the parties in Yemen.
On February 16, 2015 the Security Council convened and the members voted on a resolution on Yemen including 5 demands directed to the Houthis in order to resolve the crisis in the country. The Houthis wer demanded to withdrew their forces immediately and unconditionally from all the areas under its control including the capital Sana’a, and the UN Secretary General requested a report each 15 days to ensure they respond to the demands of the resolution.
Initially, SA attempted to seek a diplomatic solution for the situation to avoid military intervention. On March 9, 2015 SA stated that the GCC supports a conference to be held in Riyadh and to be attended by all the political parties in Yemen in order to end the turmoil in Yemen. This call was categorically rejected by the Houthis and Saleh, unaware of the repercussion of this rejection. The Riyadh conference was held on June 17, 2015 with the presence of some members of the GPC who broke away from Saleh and supported Hadi and the legitimacy in Yemen, including Mohammad bin Naji al-Shayif, Ahmad Obeid bin Daghir, Rashid al-Oleimi, and others. The conferences put forward anumber of recommendations, most important of which was the importance of recognizing Hadi’s legitimacy, supporting the Arab intervention to restore the legitimacy in Yemen, and the importance of solving the crisis in the south. The conferenced stated that any solution in Yemen should be based on resolution No.2216 and the outcomes of the national dialogue conference. Nevertheless, it seemed that the conference was held when the situation went out of the diplomacy hand, and war seemed as the only solution to the crisis.
Aftermath of the War: Possible Scenarios
The horrible turmoil and internal conflicts in Yemen have took huge toll on the country and its people. The losses and destruction are beyond description. The economy deteriorated to unprecedented levels, and dangers and deaths are rampant all over the country. The bombings, the relentless raids and attacks killed hundreds of civilians. The militias of the Houthi and Saleh use anti-aircraft missiles and they know that such missiles are futile and will only cause deaths among the Yemeni civilians. The UN issued a report warning against an eminent famine in Yemen.
This is the outcome of the irresponsible actions of Ali Saleh, who had control over the political situation in the country through more than three decades as a head of the state. He managed to buy allegiances and form new alliances and linked the fate of Yemen to his.
The nature of the Yemeni society, hit by abject poverty and a deteriorated economy, with rising illiteracy rates and lack of education helped in strengthening the tribal affiliations over the national identity. The situation was further worsened by the absence of responsible media outlets in the country. There are other important factors the facilitated Saleh’s mission in eliminating the hopes of the Yemenis for a better bright future only because they destroyed his dreams of transferring the rule to his son.
It seems that no political or diplomatic solution shall be able to diffuse the crisis in Yemen. The facts on the ground indicate that the forces of the popular resistance are determined to settle the matter using military force, supported by the Arab coalition, especially when the militias of the Houthis and Saleh destroyed complete cities using heavy weaponry and Katyucha rockets targeting civilians and killing hundreds of innocents. The intervention of the Saudi-led coalition indicates that these countries realize that this battle is decisive in protecting the stability and security in their own lands, especially in Saudi Arabia. This war shall only come to an end when SA received guarantees that its borders and security shall be protected, and when resolution 1622 is carried out, which demands the Houthis to step aside, withdrew its forces from all the cities and villages, hand over their weapons, and recognize Hadi’s legitimacy.
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