Punishing Saleh and the Houthis

Yemenis must not allow a small group to manipulate them and their future

Abdulrahman al-Rashed
Published: Updated:
Enable Read mode
100% Font Size

There is neither an international force on the ground in Yemen to support and protect the legitimate transitional regime nor is there an air force to launch attacks on the hideouts of rebel leaders. Such leaders include Ali Abdullah Saleh, the ousted president, and Abdul Malik al-Houthi, leader of armed rebel group. However, there is one weapon capable of protecting legitimacy and supporting the new government - the U.N. Security Council’s approved international sanctions.

In a rare case in the history of disputes addressed by the U.N., all U.N. Security Council members agreed on punishing ousted President Saleh and two Houthi leaders. The U.S. immediately implemented the sanctions once they were announced and blacklisted all three men, froze their assets and threatened to arrest them should they land in any airport or dock in any port outside Yemen.


Yemenis must not allow a small group to manipulate them and their future

Abdulrahman al-Rashed

The sanctions are the legitimate weapon which the international community can use to in Yemen in order to prevent the collapse of the state. Yemen has been standing on the brink of the abyss for a few months now due to the rebellion in the north and defections in the south which Saleh himself has plenty to do with. Sanctions will greatly hurt Saleh while the two other Houthi commanders probably aren’t familiar with airports and most likely keep their money stashed away under their beds. The U.N. panel of experts on Yemen presented irrefutable intelligence evidence on the conspiracy planned by Saleh, the mastermind behind chaos and the man willing to sabotage Yemen and take the country hostage in order to return to power. The secret evidence distributed to U.N. Security Council members exposed how Saleh has, since the fall of 2012, worked with the Houthis to orchestrate murder and sabotage. The panel’s report stated that Saleh had until last September secretly funded operations and politically supported those operations across Yemen. Evidence shows that last February, Saleh did not only support the Houthis but was also behind the violent acts of some southern separatists and some acts perpetrated by the al-Qaeda organization! This is how rampant Saleh has become; he is willing to sabotage the country and harm its unity to serve his own personal interests. His most recent undertaking toward this end was expelling Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi from his party, the general people’s congress, and expelling Abdul Karim Al-Iryani, one of Yemen’s most important politicians.

Destroying the state

Despite Saleh’s enthusiastic speeches against the U.N. Security Council’s decisions, his refusal to submit and his vow to continue destroying the state if he and his family don’t return to power, Saleh will lose the most as a result of these sanctions if he dares defy the U.N. Security Council. Saleh has millions of dollars in Swiss banks, millions which he stole from international aid and oil revenues during his long years in governance and these funds have been recorded in detail. However, the wounded fox Saleh is not used to fighting using his own weapons. He is, rather, one of those who uses others and exploits them to serve his own interests and then gets rid of them. He has already begun to prepare the ground to get rid of his Houthi ally, encouraging concerned countries to allow him to return to power by saying he is the only man capable of confronting the Houthis. His supporters have also begun to market the idea that “Saleh is the only solution to save Yemen.”

The two other sanctioned men are Houthi commanders Abdullah Yahya al-Hakim and Abd al-Khaliq al-Huthi and they were blacklisted due to evidence of their involvement in murder and conspiracy. There is evidence that al-Hakim organized a secret meeting in Sanaa in June to plan a coup against President Hadi. The meeting was attended by various security and tribal leaders and by representatives of Saleh. There’s also evidence that in June, Hakim led forces to take over the city of Amran. The report added that Hakim orchestrated the takeover of the capital, Sanaa, and noted that he is still in charge of the coup and is in control of Sanaa’s entrance points.

The second sanctioned leader is Abd al-Khaliq al-Huthi who was accused of leading group of gunmen disguised as armed forces to take over the city of Dammaj last October. The assault led to the death of many Yemenis. In August this year, he transferred arms and ammunition from Amran to a camp near Sanaa to prepare for the war. Last month , intelligence reports said he was preparing to orchestrate attacks against some embassies in order to sow chaos in the capital and justify the coup.

Yemenis must not allow a small group to manipulate them and their future. The millions of dollars Saleh stole are enough and so are the 30 years of failure and underdevelopment under his rule. Saleh must let Yemen be and must, with international support, give the Yemenis a new chance to be saved from destruction and the civil war which he is preparing alongside the Houthis. Those who know Saleh must not allow him to involve them and exploit them to serve his interests. After all, it turned out that all his groups are infiltrated and that all his actions are monitored. Saleh has no foreign ally he can bet on and this includes Iran. Regardless, Saleh would sell them all out tomorrow in exchange for retrieving his money or for attaining permission to travel to Germany for medical treatment.

This article was first published in Asharq al-Awsat on November 12, 2014.


Abdulrahman al-Rashed is the General Manager of Al Arabiya News Channel. A veteran and internationally acclaimed journalist, he is a former editor-in-chief of the London-based leading Arab daily Asharq al-Awsat, where he still regularly writes a political column. He has also served as the editor of Asharq al-Awsat’s sister publication, al-Majalla. Throughout his career, Rashed has interviewed several world leaders, with his articles garnering worldwide recognition, and he has successfully led Al Arabiya to the highly regarded, thriving and influential position it is in today.

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