PICTURED: Crown Prince Mohammed bin-Salman, and Leadership Council head Rashad al-Alimi meet in Riyadh. PC: Al Jazeera. Retrieved form YouTube.
RIYADH, Saudi Arabia. April 7th, 2022. In a recent speech, the UN-recognized president of Yemen, Abd Mansour Hadi, announced he had given over his full executive powers over to a presidential leadership council that will seek to end the 7-year long war.
Saudi-backed Hadi, who won a 2012 election in which he was the only candidate, held power for a short while before a large ethic group known as the Houthis overthrew him in a revolution. For the leadership of this new council, Hadi, or more likely the Saudi government, has chosen Rashad al-Alimi, a member of a prominent Yemeni political party called al-Islah.
al-Islah is recognized as a Saudi client, and just another arm of their influence in the country which the Houthis are sick to death of.
“The leadership council promises the people to end the war and achieve peace through a comprehensive peace process that guarantees the Yemeni people all its aspirations,” Rashad al-Alimi said in a televised speech last Friday.
There’s been a recent increase in gumption by the UN to try and revive an always-ailing peace process, and this rare public appearance by Hadi is likely the beginning of a new strategy to end Saudi’s expensive bombing of the country.
At the beginning of the holy month of Ramadan, the warring parties signed a two month truce, which has more or less stayed together. The UN Special Envoy for Yemen has taken this opportunity to visit the country and meet with Houthi leaders to try and ensure the process can withstand.
Many see this as a critical opportunity not to be missed, but Hadi and Riyadh’s maneuvering have likely thrown a spanner in the works of ending the globe’s worst humanitarian crisis with the knowledge that the world neither cares very much for Yemen, nor pays very close attention to her politics.
Al-Alimi and his al-Islah party heading up the coalition are as much indebted to the Saudi regime that has ceaselessly bombed the poorest country in the Middle East as Hadi is, but the fact that few people will know this means the Crown Prince can pretend he’s brining “all parties” to the negotiating table, and that when the Houthis reject it, as they already have, greater blame will fall on them for remaining obstinate against receiving their orders from the new government.
What they’ve done in creating this council would be the same thing as if Imperial Japan, desiring to restore stable government in occupied Korea, appointed a council of 8 Japanese generals to head up the political transition.
To wit, Houthi spokespersons have described the appointment of a council in Riyadh to decide the post-war political situation in a country they have not controlled for almost a decade as “farcical theatrics,” and “a desperate attempt to restructure the ranks of mercenaries to push them towards further escalation”.
Saudi Arabia announced $3 billion in financial support to the Hadi government-in-theory in exile, and the leadership council, which invited the Houthis to talks in Riyadh, which they rejected claiming the Saudi capital was “enemy territory”.
Many believe the conflict to be a proxy between Sunni-Saudi Arabia, and their regional enemies Shia-Iran. The Houthis are often referred to as Iran-backed Shia rebels, but the two entities belong to totally different versions of the Shi’ite faith, and no evidence exists that they take marching orders from Tehran.
The Houthis have employed some sophisticated weaponry on a few occasions, which Saudi-U.S. intelligence claim is being funneled to them via Iran. However the country is under a blockade of ships, and few planes are able to enter the capital of Sana’a.