Moving the war from Sanaa to Aden
The situation in Yemen has become transient, shifting from Sanaa to Aden
It comes as no surprise that the Yemeni duo, consisting of isolated President Ali Abdullah Saleh and the Houthis, will try and go after legitimate President Abdrabbo Mansour Hadi, who they had besieged at the presidential palace in Sanaa before he fled and suddenly appeared in Aden, announcing the city as a temporary capital.
What may have been surprising was the use of warplanes to shell the presidential palace in Aden, which is 430 kilometers away from Sanaa.
The air strikes did not obstruct the activity of the legitimate government. On the contrary, it granted it huge support, especially in the South which was not enthusiastic about maintaining unity with the North.
Those dealing with the situation in Aden think that Hadi’s escape from his Houthi captors and the rebels’ attempt to assassinate him and shell Aden have granted Hadi popularity and helped him gain the people’s sympathy.
Before that, Hadi’s leadership capabilities and popularity were in doubt and rebels in the North and separatists in the South formed a major front against him.
Hadi now represents the national Yemeni project and his legitimacy is recognized by the the U.N. Security Council and the Gulf Cooperation Council.
Chaos and rebellion
The scene has changed a little. Confrontations have moved from Sanaa to Aden, highlighting a crisis for ousted President Saleh who is greatly responsible for the chaos and the rebellion. As time passes, he is losing more than the Houthis.
This is why Saleh wants to impose, on influential parties, a decision to assign his son Ahmad as president. If he doesn’t succeed in doing so within a year, the unfrozen assets that he's using to fund the rebellion will shrink. He would then lose the loyalty of most leaderships whom he has deceived by resorting to regional and tribal excuses or by promising them certain benefits.
Where do the Yemeni people stand amid this crisis? The situation is difficult for all Yemenis. Fighting over power has been dragging some parties against one another. However the majority must stand by political legitimacy as it means stability in a country where arms are being stacked up. It also means Arab and international support of development, as well as getting rid of Saleh’s regime which the Yemenis revolted against four years ago.
We won’t find many who want a backward Iranian group which claims religious sanctity.
The only popular option is legitimacy as supported by the U.N., the Arab League and Yemen’s Gulf neighbors. All of these parties agree on the legitimacy of Hadi’s government. This is why Saleh and the Houthis want him dead.
This article was first published in Asharq al-Awsat on Saturday, March 22, 2015.
Abdulrahman al-Rashed is the former 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.