It is Yemen. Is it happy? No. A former Yemeni official talked a while ago about five presidents in the south and five in the north and their fate which, due to violence, was either exile or death. This is the nature of givens in Yemen as those who do not get exiled get killed. All givens, including Monday’s developments, were not any different. The expected murder happened. It was no surprise but it was painful.
My source, the Yemeni official, asked: “Does the new given yield a new result? No. The most significant thing in the most recent development was displaying the bodies. This happened for the first time in Yemen as political violence in the country has not produced this ‘tazir’, (i.e. punishment for offenses at the discretion of the judge or ruler) due to social and tribal aspects. This shocked the Yemenis because it does not harmonize with their social or political behavior.”
It thus happened for the first time with a Yemeni president, regardless of whether he was from the north or the south. Men were murdered before without even declaring where they were buried but the shock today is much worse. I asked my source about this development and he said: “We are not dealing with a political party but with an ideological one that believes what it did on Monday will help it go to heaven. There is a change in the political map as we’ve currently entered the phase of political Islam. This is why political Islam parties, such as the Muslim Brotherhood and the Houthis, adopted a vengeful rhetoric.”
He added: “If you follow up on the Qatari Al-Jazeera channel, you will be in pain as it’s still referring to Ali Abdullah Saleh as the ‘ousted president’ which is a term that does not suit a murdered man. Brotherhood supporters who appear on Al-Jazeera channel also adopt a vengeful rhetoric. This behavior is new to the Yemenis.”
Killing in cold blood
I asked him about Abdulmalik Al-Houthi and told him how I noticed on Al-Mayadeen television channel that he vengefully spoke with a great sense of victory. “Yes, he spoke calmly. It’s like killing in cold blood. He is today talking on behalf of mercy killing. We will enter a new phase of violence and it will be fierce.”
The scene today came as a shock to Saleh’s family and to the General People’s Congress. We’re talking about 30 or 40 years here, i.e. entire generations which never worked with any leader but Saleh. We politically disagreed with him but we did not wish that he dies. The psychological state today is complicated and it hurts us. It’s not just due to the deaths happening but also due to the vengeful approach around us. The other party is in shock, and the real patriotic party and all these developments will put us through a new swirl of violence.”
But will this swirl of violence be just among Yemenis?
He said: “We are talking about a Yemeni-Yemeni swirl of violence. The issue of a foreign or regional factor is just a supporting factor here but the Yemenis are psychologically prepared. Therefore, any regional or international interventions come within a prepared psychological context.”
He added: “How can one remove the evil which happened today. The Houthis’ speeches and practices made me realize that they do not want to schedule a political session or sit for dialogue. They need a mental institute. They talked about murder as an act that will lead them to heaven. For me, Abdulmalik al-Houthi’s appearance today is just like Osama bin Laden’s. If you notice, Bin Ladeh has the same soft and calm character as he speaks. Today, I saw Bin Laden before me as Abdulmalik spoke. He talks about death and murder in a calm and soft way, as if nothing happened. This is abnormal behavior that cannot be eliminated via politics. It needs more to be eliminated, just like al-Qaeda and other groups were eliminated. This behavior by the Houthis is new to Yemen. There’s no way for engaging in politics or shaking hands or reaching peace with them. Their past behavior and what we’ve seen in the past 48 hours imply they are in a state of ecstasy that will drag the country and the region to the abyss.”
What’s the Iranian role now? He said: “Iran considers what happened as victory. However, history taught us all about temporary and fake victories. Those who read Yemen’s history and the region’s history or human history can see that what happened is a national and humanitarian disaster.”Huda al-Husseini
What’s happening in Yemen will affect our brothers all the way to the African horn. The dangerous repercussions of violence will not only be seen in Yemen.
What will come afterwards? He said: “The violence will be worse.”
Will the Muslim Brotherhood meet with the Houthis? He said: “No. I expect them to meet with the ‘congress’ because both parties drank the same poison. What happened to the Brotherhood made them escape while those in the ‘congress’ were braver on the ground. The Brotherhood too had the state of treachery. I expect Al-Islah Party (the Brotherhood) to meet with the ‘congress’ or for the region to help in their meeting.”
What pushed President Saleh to contact the coalition and announce his willingness to work with it and save whatever is left of Yemen? He said: “I will use a simple language. He was like a cat who when cornered jumps. He had two options, either to poison himself, like what happened at the International Court of Justice, or resist. He is brave. He resisted and did not give up. The Houthis cornered him. They approached his residence and his guards made a decision to besiege him. In the last 72 hours, they wanted to take his personal guard, his nephew Tarek Mohammed Abullah Saleh who was his right arm. They thought Saleh will surrender and meet his fate or defend himself and get lucky and survive.”
What’s the Iranian role now? He said: “Iran considers what happened as victory. However, history taught us all about temporary and fake victories. Those who read Yemen’s history and the region’s history or human history can see that what happened is a national and humanitarian disaster.”
What is the role which the Arab region can play to confront this Iranian ecstasy? There is a new phase of alert. There are manifestations of a clear upcoming vision and the issue is no longer linked to matters of peace. The issue, in my opinion, revolves around two axes: the region’s victory or defeat, and its tools are the power machine and the roughness machine and nothing more.
I asked: Will all the Yemeni people accept that the Houthis rule all of Yemen? He said: “No, not after 1,000 years. I am basing my words on experience. They are abnormal people. They do not seek political peace but political religion and when religion gets involved, politics is distorted. The core problem is now between the Yemeni groups. The missiles launched reflect the madness, so imagine giving them power. Imagine if North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un is here in the region. Will I give him a chance to organize himself or get rid of him?”
Will the region succeed or in this new case it will need real international support? He said: “What’s happening today is a Yemeni phenomenon. I think the international community is aware that Houthi parties are not political parties that can be dealt with.”
Will this affect Yemen’s unity? “Yes, it will greatly affect it. The southern mood today does not want to stay in this swirl of violence which will last for long. Today it’s not possible to co-exist with the mentality of the other party, whether it’s the Muslim Brotherhood or the Houthis. Attempts to end the unity will continue and some sort of negotiation is a must.”
My source concluded: The mistakes which maintained the same approaches that led Yemen to where it is today must not be repeated, or else we will descend from one failure to another.”
This article is also available in Arabic.
Huda al-Husseini is a political writer who focuses on Middle East geopolitics.