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Who targeted the funeral in Sanaa?

There are those who continue to spread false rumors and lies about the Operation Decisive Storm using Arab and foreign mouthpieces

Mashari Althaydi

Published: Updated:

Yemen’s wise statesman Dr Abd al-Karim al-Iryani passed away in November 2015. He was a symbol of the General People’s Congress to which former President Ali Abdullah Saleh belongs. He was completely different from Saleh though and so were his policies and behavior. He tended to be in favor of legitimacy and in support of the Operation Decisive Storm, though in his own polite manner.

His funeral proceedings were held in the same hall, which was targeted by terrorists two days ago. Saleh, his men and his family members attended this reception in the presence of a large gathering. At the time, the Saudi-led coalition airplanes dominated Sanaa airspace and continue to do so. Saleh attended the funeral and offered his condolences. He stayed for a long time and was unharmed.

This is my first observation. The second point is that Ali Abdullah Saleh has been delivering speeches in Sanaa with coalition jets flying above their head. Although the coalition knows Saleh is present there it neither harmed him nor his supporters.

The third observation is that Yemenis were preparing to mobilize for protests on Sunday against Houthi militias and against forces loyal to Saleh. The anticipated protests were being planned under the slogan “I am going down to protest” (Ana Nazel in Arabic). The funeral of al-Roweishan family was targeted on Saturday, a day ahead of the anticipated protests. Is this a coincidence?

Another realistic possibility, which we must also consider, is that al-Qaeda or the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) could be behind this heinous crime. This is indeed possible

Mshari al-Thaydi

Inside job?

What we know so far about those who have been killed in the attack, were members of the General People’s Congress, which carries political and social weight that differs from the Houthis. Jalal al-Roweishan, interior minister in the self-proclaimed Houthi government and Abdulqader Hilal, head of Sanaa’s local council, who is close to Saleh. So the question that needs to be asked is whether this was an “inside job” so the Houthis can dominate the scene?

The fifth point is that Khaled al-Roweishan, Jalal’s cousin – who lives in Sanaa and writes against the Houthis – was injured in the attack. Al-Ruweishan is a member of the Khawlan tribe or the Khawlan al-Tayyal, as it is known.

Those who follow developments in Yemen are aware that there are active contacts between Yemen’s strong general Ali Mohsen al-Ahmar, who has recently joined the field, and the Khawlan tribe in Sanaa, which has responded to his calls following successes at Marib and Sirwah. So does this attack, which left Khawlan injured, is aimed to deter this distinctive bloc in the battle for Sanaa?

These questions must be thoroughly examined. Another realistic possibility, which we must also consider, is that al-Qaeda or the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) could be behind this heinous crime. This is indeed possible.

In both the cases, is it in the coalition’s interest to attack civilians at a funeral? Why didn’t the coalition do so before and attack the same hall when there were significant targets, such as Saleh?

The truth remains that there are those who want to spread false rumors and lies about the Operation Decisive Storm through an Arab or a foreign mouthpiece.

This article was first published in Asharq al-Awsat on Oct. 10, 2016.
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Saudi journalist Mshari Al Thaydi presents Al Arabiya News Channel’s “views on the news” daily show “Maraya.” He has previously held the position of a managing senior editor for Saudi Arabia & Gulf region at pan-Arab newspaper Asharq al-Awsat. Al Thaydi has published several papers on political Islam and social history of Saudi Arabia. He appears as a guest on several radio and television programs to discuss the ideologies of extremist groups and terrorists.

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