Split in Rebel Yemeni coalition, as Saleh turns on Houthis, seeks peace with Saudis

By Juan Cole | (Informed Comment) | – –

Amid a growing problem of malnutrition and cholera outbreaks caused by the Saudi-led war on Yemen, the two branches of the northern Yemeni government have split and are fighting one another. The country is being plunged into yet more misery, and the Saudis are looking to take advantage.

Former president Ali Abdullah Saleh, who was forced to resign as a result of a year-long set of protests 2011-2012, had allied with the Houthis as a way of regaining some of his former station.

He has now come out to call for an armistice with the Houthis, between whom and his own troops there had been fighting in recent days,and to offer Saudi Arabia Yemen’s support.

His call fell on deaf ears as the capital of Sanna has become a battlefield, with fierce fighting reported Sunday between Houthis and Saleh loyalists, & with the streets littered with bodies and burned out military vehicles.

The Helpers of God or Houthis made a coup in Sanaa, the capital, in fall of 2014, and by March of 2015 they had taken over the government. Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi, the interim president, was overthrown and went into exile.

The Houthis are a movement within the Zaydi branch of Shiite Islam.

The Houthis sought the help of other social groups by doing them favors. Saleh and the units of the Yemeni military loyal to him threw in with the Houthis. Until this past week.

The Saudis, for their part, are calling on the Yemeni people to support Saleh’s ploy.

With the Saleh-Houthi alliance in tatters, Yemen could be in for even more political trumoil and even more starvation.


Related video added by Juan Cole:

Al Jazeera English: “Yemen’s Saleh ready for talks with Saudi-led coalition”

9 Responses

  1. And into this truly terrible mix of madness and horror the Americans and we British are pouring ever more arms. What is it with we humans that we want to slaughter each other on such a scale and expend our energies and wealth on ever more machines to kill each other? I really do despair and wonder if there will ever be a time when the world is at peace with itself.

    • I also at times have the same response. The sheer amount of carnage is difficult to comprehend, and while some sides are demonstrably worse than others, there are virtually no good guys.

    • (ctd) The only good guys are the unfortunate civilians that have suffered multiple indignities of war crimes and human rights violations.

  2. Perhaps even more worrisome is the tendency of the US and British arms makers profiting obscenely thanks to the carnage with the assistance and blessing of our respective governments.

    We Americans have learned the trick of spilling the blood mostly of the “others” while limiting our own involvement to “volunteers” ( many of whom are economically driven by our distorted economy ), and making the war news far to boring to interest the general public. When there is football, movie star scandal, and idiotic tweets and twitter battles, etc, to compete with for the public’s short attention span, who wants to pay attention to a few hundred or a few hundred thousand of “them” being killed?

  3. Unfortunately, a reading of history suggests that Homo sapiens will continue to react to its environment with its lizard brain (think the the 3 F’s of Madison Avenue, Fear, Food and, er…sex). And then we will look back with our frontal lobe capacity and project forward promises to never be so foolish again…and again…and again. In applying this to the current Middle East mess, and politics in the U.S., clearly uncontrolled, insatiable greed for money and its imprimatur of power and success is driving the ruling billionaire sociopaths to historical levels of gluttonous excess. Drive up the price for petroleum extracted from non-Muslim countries by engulfing the Muslims states in regional conflagration, taking their crude out of production or destroying it. No matter the cost to people or the planet as long as the 1% keep accruing more. Oh, they REALLY needed that tax cut, deregulation, etc., etc.
    The pendulum will eventually swing back, as it did in reaction to the Gilded Age excesses of 100 years ago. But then, we didn’t have thousands of nukes, a rapidly heating planet, etc. My money says the 1% and their brain dead poor white t***h minions have signed death warrants for their own families and ours. Not optimistic about our future at all.

  4. Despite the regular media reporting about the “Iranian backed Houthis” fighting against Yemen’s “legal and internationally recognized” government, as you point out it now appears that rather than the Houthis using former President Ali Abdullah Saleh to overrun Yemen, it has been Salih who has been using the Houthis to achieve his aim.

    The Yemeni uprising in 2011 put an end to more than three decades of Salih’s rule as president. After returning to Yemen from his exile in Saudi Arabia, Salih tried to regain power with the help of the Houthis. The conflict in Yemen has been mainly a struggle for power between Salih and his former vice-president Abdu Rabuh Mansur Hadi. In fact, Iran had advised the Houthis not to move on to Sana’a. However, Hadi’s presidential mandate had officially ended by the time he asked for Saudi help in March 2015. So there was little basis in international law for the Operation Decisive Storm, allegedly aimed at restoring Hadi to power.

    The hypocritical stance of the US, UK, and France that provide military and technical assistance to Saudi coalition shows a deep contempt for the Yemenis and a refusal to resolve the underlying causes of the conflict. In October 2015 a Netherlands-proposed UN resolution calling for independent investigators was blocked as the result of strong pressure from Saudi Arabia and US.

    The problem is that Yemen has a strategic position and anyone who wishes to control the Bab al-Mandab, the Red Sea and the Persian Gulf must also control Yemen, hence the need for a pliant, pro-Western regime there. Saudi Arabia’s military intervention in March 2015 was mainly aimed at punishing Salih, as well as portraying the young Prince Muhammad Bin Salman (MBS) as a tough leader. Since then, the war has resulted in tens of thousands of casualties, a famine that threatens 70% of Yemen’s 30 million population, compounded by the worst case of cholera and recently by typhoid.

    This cynical international attitude towards Yemen must end and efforts must be made to put an end to multiple war crimes and the misery of poor Yemeni civilians.

  5. “Irhal” was the ubiquitous protest slogan that I remember when Ali Abdullah was toppled. He might well be gone for good as there are reports that he was killed.

  6. The latest report about the assassination of former President Saleh adds a whole new dimension to the conflict, and will further isolate the Houthis who have allegedly been behind the murder and have taken over Sana’a and have announced “end of crisis”. I am afraid it will further intensify the crisis, but perhaps it will bring the end closer, especially as Saleh’s son, who lives in the UAE and was the former head of the Republican Guards, may lead the opposition to the Houthis.

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