How Yemen’s Saleh deceived the media and governments

For many years, Saleh successfully managed to mislead the United States, Gulf states, Iraq and Syria

Abdulrahman al-Rashed

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Over many years I have come to know much about former Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh and enough to understand him, most notably that he lacks credibility and relies heavily on the policies of deception. For many years, Saleh successfully managed to mislead the United States, Gulf states, Iraq and Syria. Even more, he was deceiving political, partisan and tribal leaders in Yemen. This is Saleh’s history. His manipulative ways helped him remain in power in a country of contradictions and competitors.

What happened in Yemen over the past eight months is another show produced by Saleh. Many were shocked by the Houthi takeover of Yemen’s major cities and provinces with minimal confrontation from government and tribal forces. Houthis are not SIS. They are a tribal militia and an armed organization with strongholds in the north of Yemen. It was very unlikely for this organization to expand to the country’s southwest without the help of any ally. Many believed the story of the Houthi capture of major cities without scrutinizing it.

Saleh's former employees have pushed out much misinformation claiming that current interim president Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi has struck alliance with the Houthis and that he agreed to give them the capital and other cities. Another misinformation claims that Saudi Arabia accepted the Houthis as part of regional deal with the Iranians. A third misinformation accuses U.N. envoy to Yemen Jamal Benomar of collusion.

Similarly, it is implausible that the U.N. envoy would be signing deals on the back of political forces. In my view, when there is a problem in Yemen always look for Saleh and you will find him in every crisis and every deal. It later became clear that all widespread reports were of his making. He wanted to reassure everyone and to buy time to take over the country and disturb his others. Saleh is a deposed president but he continues to manage the former state establishment. Most of the military and security services are under his influence as he tried to overthrow the regime that replaced him and sabotage the country in hope of returning to power as president.

In my opinion, whenever there is a problem in Yemen, Saleh is behind it.

Abdulrahman al-Rashed

Saleh might not know that in the process of sabotaging the current situation, he is ruining the future of his son Ahmad, who is seen as a good person and a potential future leader. It was possible for Yemen to move within two years to an institutional state in which Saleh's party could return to power as it is the biggest in the country and because it was allowed by mediators to continue operating and was not uprooted [after the revolution.]

Now, the picture is much clearer: Saleh teamed up with the Houthis to topple the current regime with the aim of returning to the pre-February 2012 era. Saleh used the Houthis, in cooperation with the Iranians, to serve his own purposes, startle his Saudi neighbors and then present himself as the country’s savior.

It was a good play, but a lie has no legs; the truth will always come out and Saleh has become an open book. In Yemen, there are three main local actors and three influential external powers. The external powers include Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states, the United States that is chasing Al-Qaeda and the United Nations through its envoy Jamal Benomar. The transfer of power was signed under U.N. supervision and helped steer the country away from civil war the likes of which we see in Syria and Libya.

It was a good play, but a lie has no legs; the truth will always come out and Saleh has become an open book.

Abdulrahman al-Rashed

Rather than praising God for having escaped death and for a transition of power that guarded his dignity and granted him the right to continue his participation at the political party level, and gave his family the right to work in government, Saleh is still plotting and conspiring to spread chaos from his home in Sanaa. He should have learned from the fate of Qaddafi and his family. To be continued ……

This article was first published in Ash-Sahrq al-Awsat on Friday, Oct. 24, 2014.


Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not reflect Al Arabiya English's point-of-view.
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