Saleh, Houthis in control of Yemeni military: ex-minister
While Yemen is split between two "authorities," the Houthis are emerging on top, a political figure said. (AFP/File)
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Yemen could fall victim to civil war and chaos unless Arab Gulf states take urgent action to support national stability, a prominent southern Yemeni political figure warned.
In comments to Asharq Al-Awsat, Saeed Yaffie, a former Yemeni Transport Minister and head of the Forum of the Sons of South Yemen said that while Yemen is split between two “authorities”—the Houthis in Sana’a and President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi in Aden, it is the Houthis who are emerging on top.
“The authority in Sana’a [Houthis] is extending its influences in all the areas under its control and nobody there dares to oppose it. If there is any such opposition, the response is quick and decisive. As for the authority in Aden, it does not extend beyond the palace where brother Hadi is living and working,” he said.
President Hadi, who is the internationally recognized leader of Yemen, is facing major problems enforcing his decisions outside of Aden, with a significant proportion of Yemen’s state apparatus and territory under Houthi control. In fact, a significant proportion of Yemen’s own military is under the control of the Shi’ite group, particularly the Houthi-backed Special Security Forces (SSF) led by Brig. Gen. Abdul Hafiz Al-Saqqaf.
Although Hadi has issued a presidential decree re-assigning Saqqaf as head of the SSF, which is based out of Sana’a, the Yemeni military commander has refused to follow the order with many local and regional observers now viewing the SSF as part of the Houthi forces.
“It is well known that military and security apparatus are either subject to the orders of the Houthis or the directives of former President Ali Abdullah Saleh and his son Ahmed Saleh,” Yaffie told Asharq Al-Awsat.
Former president Saleh has been accused of allying with the Houthis to oust successor Hadi, while his son Ahmed Saleh previously served as commander of Yemen’s powerful Republican Guard forces. Yemeni protesters held a rally in Sana’a on Friday calling for presidential elections and backing Ahmed Saleh for president, local media reported.
“Our brothers in the [Arab] Gulf are well aware that a civil war in Yemen will harm their interests, particularly as conflict will only lead to chaos and create an atmosphere that will allow terrorist groups to grow, particularly Al-Qaeda. They must also know that the ultimate goal of Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) is the Gulf, not Yemen,” Yaffie said.
“Therefore, our neighboring states must do everything in their power to ensure that Yemen does not slide towards civil war and that includes encouraging dialogue and communication as much as possible between Yemen’s various political factions as well as providing financial support to prevent the collapse of the national economy,” he added.