Political Observation - Yemen: Roadmap to Division

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

Political Observation - Yemen: Roadmap to Division

The United Nations announced on 6 August the appointment of Swedish diplomat Hans Grundberg as its new envoy to Yemen. This coincided with a shift in the military standpoint of the Houthis from defence to attack on several frontlines, knowing that they had initially rejected the appointment of Grundberg as US representative, only to have a change of heart later and accept the appointment later on the condition that he would have to start from where Griffith had left off. What is remarkable is that the appointment of the UN envoy coincided with leaks about a roadmap, attributed to “Legitimacy”, for Yemen which evoked the apprehensions of some officials, especially the Shurah Council Chairperson Ahmed Obaid bin Dagher who emerged warning against impinging on the legitimacy of President Hadi and tweeted that “Legitimacy is not the obstacle in the face of achieving peace”, and thus exposed what had been occurring behind the scenes such as the attempt to transfer the competencies of President Hadi to an agreed-upon Vice-President or to form a presidential council in which all the stakeholders would take part with the aim of generating an appropriate ground for dialogue between the Yemeni political constituents and the Iran-backed Houthis. This was confirmed by former Yemeni foreign minister Dr Abu Bakr al-Qirbi who pointed out that “the international community is seeking to solve the Yemeni crisis by transferring power to a new consensual vice-president, or by establishing a presidential council.” It was also exposed by the head of the Juhod Studies Centre, Abdul Sattar al-Shamiri, who referred to an extensive debate taking place in the Sultanate of Oman on a draft agreement to end the war in Yemen consisting of 21 articles, devised by the US State Department and the new UN envoy.

However, the Houthis, who have been stationed for several months on the outskirts of Marib, the last stronghold of “Legitimacy” in northern Yemen, have no political or economic interest in giving up all those gains and handing them over to a presidential council or a consensual vice-president, without having the upper hand and the last word. They realise that the Western standpoints are built on the fait accompli policy, as long as it fulfils their interests. Observers of the unfolding events in the Islamic lands realise the collusion of the regimes and rulers in favour of the Kafir colonialist, incarnated by the US, in perpetuating the proxy wars which divert Muslims away from their issues and only serve Western powers who control their outputs.

It is evident that U.S. Special Envoy for Yemen Tim Lenderking adopted the eight-article Gulf initiative handed to him during his first visit to the region in February 2021 as a benchmark for completing the American plan to divide Yemen under the theme of ending the struggle through a permanent political solution and providing humanitarian aid to the Yemeni people. This trend is corroborated by the Shurah Council Chairperson, Ahmed Obaid bin Dagher, who commented on the Gulf Cooperation Council’s (GCC) initiative by endorsing the “adoption of the project of the overwhelming majority of the Yemeni people, and I mean the project of the federal state… with an objective tackling of the southern issue.”

In fact, dividing Yemen in some form of a confederation is not a new occurrence. The proposed endorsement of four provinces, which would be granted all the competencies akin to self-rule, provided that the north is divided into two provinces, one for the Houthis with its borders stretching to the governorate of Ibb south of Sanaa, and the second to the forces representing the Legitimacy camp stretching over the remaining lands of the north, including al-Hudaydah. As for the south, it would consist of two provinces which would be granted full competencies until a referendum is held on the final status of south Yemen under the auspices of the UN by the beginning of the fifth year from the date of the agreement coming into force. However, the most important point in the leak is pertinent to the international guarantees for Yemen’s security through deploying international peacekeeping forces in 17 Yemeni regions including al-Hudaydah which reflects colonialist dimensions in military form and consequently leads to thwart any move to future unity.

The omens of this high treason are reflected in the corroboration of foreign minister Ahmed Awad bin Mubarak during his virtual meeting with Dutch ambassador Peter Derrek Hof, which stipulated “the government’s eagerness to achieve sustainable peace and reach a political settlement based on the three nationally and internationally agreed upon baselines.” The baselines in question are the Gulf initiative of 2011, the upshots of the National Dialogue Conference of 2011-2013 and the UN Security Council resolutions, especially resolution 2216 which compels the Houthis to surrender the areas under their control and hand over their weapons.

In an attempt to link the Yemeni issue to the geopolitical agenda of Bab al-Mandab and the conflagrant Horn of Africa, which is linked to international navigation security, UN representative of Legitimacy Abdullah al-Saadi mentioned in his statement to the Security Council during an open debate on Yemen that “the Houthis’ using of the city of al-Hudaydah and its seaports to equip and launch boobytrapped boats, plant naval mines and practise piracy, poses a threat to regional and international peace and security; it is also an unprecedented targeting of international maritime routes, commercial activity, and international energy security in one of the most important maritime shipping routes in the Red Sea and Bab al-Mandab Strait.”

As for the standpoint of Iran and al-Houthi, the new Iranian president, Ebrahim Raisi, sent a message to Washington and Riyadh by making the proceedings of his telephone conversation with Iraqi prime minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi public during which the latter invited him to partake in the summit of Iraq’s neighbouring countries; Raisi said “everyone should endeavour to end the war in Yemen and respect the right of the Yemeni people to self-determination” adding that, “the countries of the region are capable of devising and implementing a roadmap towards achieving permanent peace, security and stability through cooperation between them.” He stressed that “Iraq’s neighbouring countries' summit will culminate in national and regional results highlighting Iraq’s strength and its effective role in the region, and the ability of the countries of the region to solve their own problems.” This denotes the wishes of President Raisi to adapt to the Biden administration and the new developments of American policies and take Iran back to her functional square that supports American initiatives, and thus, relieving America of the burden of overseeing the region directly. This falls under the Iranian and Saudi endeavours to settle their differences and tackle the Yemeni crisis and the Iraqi elections through the rounds of talks between the Iranian and Saudi sides in the Iraqi capital.

The omens of a positive response from the Houthis are reflected in the insinuations of Hussein al-Izzi, deputy foreign minister in the “Houthi government”, who told the London-based media outlet, The New Arab, that “Sanaa and Riyadh could reach an agreement on peace, security and good neighbourly relations”, adding in reference to the Legitimacy that “if the two capitals decided this, the mercenaries would not form an obstacle because the interests of the two brotherly peoples are far greater than the narrow interests of those elements.” All this has been unfolding amid a rapprochement and a host of agreements between Kuwait, Qatar, and Saudi which were reflected in the meeting between bin Salman and the Qatari foreign minister who conveyed to him a written letter from Sheikh Tamim. They were also reflected in the press release of the Saudi news agency stating that bin Salman had sent a written letter to the emir of Kuwait, Mashal al-Ahmed. This was designed to curb the Emirati drive towards escalating the situation, leapfrogging the stages and speeding the secession of the south. This drive was reflected in the tweet by Deputy Chairman of Police and General Security in Dubai Lieutenant General Dhahi Khalfan Tamim in which he said that “there is an international consensus on the return of the state of south Yemen with Aden as its capital.” It has also been unfolding amid the activities undertaken by Abu Dhabi to gather the remnants of the General People's Congress, which is the party of Ali Abdullah Saleh, in an attempt to generate a consensual compromise within the various trends that cropped up inside the party.

These movements and visits have by and large coincided with the statement of U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, who told the UN Security Council’s session currently held in New York on the developments of the Yemeni crisis that, “all parties to the Riyadh Agreement to redouble efforts aimed at implementation and return the Yemeni government to Aden, so it can restore basic services and take steps to improve economic stability.”

18 Muharram 1443h
27 August 2021