Yemen gets even more complex almost by the day, and who could have thunk it only a few weeks ago? It is now almost a prototype of a failed Arab state, in a similar league with a few others like Somalia and Libya and Syria:
- Houthis now control the capital Sanaa and the North: they are strongly aligned against Islah and AQAP (always) .
- Houthis reportedly aligned with former president Saleh (for now: he still has influence with the army and security forces).
- Houthis turn against Saleh (maybe soon as they tighten their control of the central state institutions, such as they are).
- AQAP are against Houthis (always, a Wahhabi-Shi’a conflict, among other issues).
- Former president General Hadi against Houthis (normal struggle of the provinces against Sanaa, in addition to the influence of Hadi-backers among Saudi and Gulf princes).
- Houthis against all the above (normal in this situation of regional/tribal/sectarian rivalry: at some point all these groups will have to face each other).
- AQAP (Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula) against all the above (possibly temporary alliances with some, for example now against the Houthis who always have a priority as enemies).
- Hirak (the strong South Yemen independence movement) against all of the above (with likely temporary alliances with some of the others). Hirak may have preferred former president General Hadi (a southerner) because he was a weak leader with no political base, hence not much of a threat to anyone’s aspirations.
- Some smaller remnants of the once-potent pan-Arab and Nasserist and socialist movements. As well as a few other parties, including the party of Saleh. I even saw a Green Party listed somewhere: not sure if it refers to environmental concerns or the chewable ‘qat (gat). No significant influence now.
- Throw in there a mix of various tribal forces and influences, just to make things more complicated and more interesting.
- GCC against Houthis and maybe Islah (ex-Qatar which is close to the Muslim Brotherhood and hence Islah).
- Iran against all the above (ex-Houthis and possibly other allies of convenience).
- USA against AQAP (what else is new? And maybe against the Houthis in the future, but that would be a tough nut to crack).
IS or ISIS, the new kid on the block. It is showing some signs of life as well in Yemen: definitely against all comers. Unless they pledge allegiance to the silly but murderous Caliph WhatIsHisFace.
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum