Houthi Militants Storm Coup-Established Foreign Ministry Offices in Sana’a

Houthis

Aden, Taiz – Armed militias backing ousted president Ali Abdullah Saleh and Tehran-aligned Houthis returned to the cycle of tension after Houthi gunmen stormed the coup-established foreign ministry bureaus in the capital Sana’a.

Houthi militiamen then prevented the pro-Saleh foreign minister Hisham Sharaf from entering the ministry.

A source at the internationally-recognized government in Aden described what is going on as “settling scores and tightening the grip on Saleh by the Houthis.”

The source also stressed that “coup tactics are self-destructive” and that “what is happening is evidence of the hatred fellow coup members harbor towards each other—however, it absolves neither from legal or judicial responsibility or accountability.”

The number of raids by Houthi militias against ministerial buildings located in coup-held territory have increased.

Unlike the Houthis’ predominantly militarized role in the coup, most ministries are run by Saleh loyalists.

Only a week ago, gunmen stormed the health ministry offices and assaulted the minister in office.

Houthis continue to chase former politicians in Sana’a.

There have been repeated incursions and accounts of humiliation registered, which reached the point physical offenses carried out against coup ministers.

“Targeting Sharaf, one of the most efficient political assistants and foreign communications experts, suggests that the two coup partners disagree on the most sensitive point—which is opposing legitimate authorities and the Arab coalition,” said Yassine al-Tamimi, a Yemeni political analyst.

He told Asharq Al-Awsat that what happened to Sharaf “is an episode in a longer series of targeting coup ministers affiliated with Saleh and who represent the political line of the General People’s Congress. This likely means that Houthis decided to deplete Saleh and his party, ousting them from the scene.”

Meanwhile, pro-government Yemeni army forces and the Popular Resistance announced on Sunday that they have officially restored their control over new strategic positions, which were controlled by insurgency militias in northeastern Al-Jawf province.

Yemen Envoy Ould Cheikh Resumes Talks after Getting Term Extension

Cheikh

Cairo, London and New York – United Nations Special Envoy to Yemen Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed will commence a new round of consultations in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Oman aimed at finding the basis for resuming negotiations between the Yemeni government and Houthi and Saleh insurgents to reach a comprehensive settlement for the crisis, diplomatic sources affirmed to Asharq Al-Awsat.

Another Arab diplomat meanwhile revealed that UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres extended the term of Ould Cheikh for six months.

Ould Cheikh will start his round of talks once he returns from New York where he was participating in the 72nd session of the UN General Assembly.

Sources stressed that talks will kick off from outcomes of the national dialogue, Gulf initiative, the related UN Security Council resolutions and Arab Summits on Yemen.

Talks will also tackle the suggested date to start negotiations between the crisis parties in Yemen. It has been proposed to hold the talks in October in either Kuwait or Oman, said the sources.

Ould Cheikh reiterated, as reported by Sky News Arabia, that the humanitarian situation in Yemen has become catastrophic, holding all parties are responsible for it. He added that although the crisis is humanitarian, its resolution is political.

Kuwait Prime Minister Sheikh Jaber Al-Mubarak Al-Hamad Al Sabah said during his speech at the General Assembly that his country has exerted relentless efforts to settle the conflict in Yemen peacefully.

Moreover, Secretary General of the Arab League Ahmed Aboul Gheit met Ould Cheikh on the sidelines of the General Assembly to discuss the latter’s contacts with international, regional and Yemeni parties related to the crisis.

Dispute between Houthis, Saleh Escalates as Coup Anniversary Approaches

Yemen

Aden– Political sources in Yemen said that the General People’s Congress has withdrawn from a committee entrusted with the preparation for the rebels’ coup anniversary, which falls on September 21, highlighting a widening dispute between the Houthis and the party of ousted President Ali Abdullah Saleh.

The sources told Asharq al-Awsat newspaper that Saleh’s party withdrew from the committee in the wake of decisions made by the president of the so-called “political council”, Saleh al-Samad, against members of the General People’s Congress.

The sources added that Samad has taken a series of measures, including the removal of pro-Saleh officials from senior posts in government institutions.

Rebels are preparing to celebrate the coup anniversary, amid the failure of a political solution and their continuous rejection of all initiatives presented by the UN envoy to Yemen, Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed, the last of which was the administration of the port of Hodeidah by a neutral party to collect revenues and pay salaries that had been suspended for around ten months.

“The anniversary of the occupation of Sana’a on September 21, 2014 is a nightmare for the Yemeni people,” said Ghamdan al-Sharif, Yemeni prime minister’s press secretary, in remarks to Asharq al-Awsat.

“Our people are living in their suffering to this day,” he added, stressing that militias wanted to “overthrow the Republic and declare the Faqih mandate in Sanaa and Yemen in general.”

“The Yemeni people have stood against these plans with the support of our Arab brothers in the Decisive Storm, which has aborted this Iranian project and maintained the legitimacy and the Republic,” Sharif stated.

Britain Calls on Houthi, Saleh to Respond to Ould Cheikh’s Plan

United Nations Special Envoy for Yemen, Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed, speaks to reporters upon his arrival at Sanaa airport on a visit to Sanaa

London– British Ambassador to Yemen Simon Shercliff blamed the Houthis and Ali Abdullah Saleh militias for the deteriorating humanitarian situation in Yemen, calling on them to respond to the efforts of UN Envoy Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed and study his proposals carefully.

In remarks to Asharq al-Awsat newspaper, Shercliff urged Houthis’ Ansarallah group and the General People’s Congress to improve the humanitarian conditions that “have worsened because of their actions” and to prioritize the interests of the Yemeni people when discussing possible solutions to the crisis.

“A political solution is the only way out and is not impossible to attain,” the ambassador said, noting that such solution required the constructive participation of all parties without preconditions, calling on all the factions to “sit on the negotiating table immediately to reach an agreement.”

“The situation in Yemen is disastrous, and the country is experiencing the worst humanitarian crisis in the world at this time, so looking for solutions through negotiations is a priority for us,” he stated.

The ambassador went on to say that the humanitarian impact on the Yemeni people was shocking.

“We cannot tolerate the denial of access to necessities such as food and medicine. A large number of Yemenis are also faced with an uncertain future in light of the collapse of the educational system,” he warned.

Asked about the request of Yemeni President Abed Rabbu Mansour Hadi to activate the Friends of Yemen Association, Shercliff said that it was a group of friends and international partners who agreed to help the Yemeni people during the preparations for the National Dialogue Conference.

“Most of these countries and organizations are still helping Yemen in its current crisis,” he stated.

Shercliff stressed the need to respond to the efforts deployed by the UN envoy to Yemen, noting that his country calls on all parties to carefully consider the proposals submitted by Ould Cheikh Ahmed for the sake of the Yemeni people.

Yemeni Government: Resolution 2216 is Clear, Ould Cheikh Ahmed Presented its Mechanism in Kuwait

Yemen

Aden– An official source in Yemen’s legitimate government strongly criticized allegations and misgivings promoted by the member of the delegation negotiating for the rebels’ team, Dr. Abu Bakr Al-Qirbi in his remarks to the BBC on the UN Security Council resolutions on Yemen.

The sources told Yemen News Agency on Monday that UN Security Council Resolution 2216 on Al-Houthi coup against the legitimate authority in Yemen was clear and required no explanation as it “calls on the coup militias to immediately withdraw from all regions under their control, especially the Yemeni capital Sana’a, in addition to the prompt delivery of weapons, the immediate release of detainees, as well as the commitment to the Gulf initiative, the outcome of the comprehensive national dialogue and the relevant Security Council resolutions.”

The sources stressed that the alliance between Houthi rebels and ousted President Ali Abdullah Saleh in Sana’a has provided political and military cover for the coup, and contributed to concealing crimes committed by the Houthis against the Yemeni people.

The sources said that al-Qirbi has lost his credibility as a politician, through his statements about the presence of a president other than the legitimate head of the country, Abed Rabbu Mansour Hadi.

“The reign of Ali Abdullah Saleh has ended,” the sources stated, adding that the decision was currently in the hands of the Yemeni people.

Houthis Prepare to End Partnership with Yemen’s Saleh

Saleh

Riyadh – It appears that former Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh, who is nicknamed the “fox” due to his expertise in political maneuvering with his friends before his enemies, is approaching a new phase in his career, this time in regards to his ties with his allies, the Houthi insurgents.

The Houthis announced on Monday the termination of the reconciliation reached with Saleh in September 2014, marking the beginning of possibly one of the most dangerous chapters in the former president’s political career.

Informed Yemeni sources told Asharq Al-Awsat that the situation in Sana’a has reached a boiling point and that the next 48 hours may witness “a heavy blow” dealt by one side to the other.

According to the obtained information, armed Houthis have come very close to Saleh’s al-Sabeen security zone, while pro-Saleh forces have started to depart Sana’a in anticipation of a possible siege against them.

These developments come at a time when a Yemeni source said that the Houthi militia decided to end its alliance with Saleh and prepare to implement a plan that will see his arrest and transfer to the Saada province.

No official information has been released to confirm this scenario.

Yemeni security and political researcher Mohammed al-Walas said that this information may have been deliberately leaked to test Saleh’s alliance.

What is certain however, he added is that Saleh’s arrest and transfer to Saada has become one of the main options for the Houthis in order to uncover the former president’s secret files that he still keeps to himself in regards to his local and foreign ties.

Walas said that Saleh is “now besieged in Sana’a.”

Yemen: Saleh Claims ‘Sedition’ as Coup Ranks Descend into Armed Conflict

London- Former Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh on Wednesday described infighting and widening rift among coup ranks in Sana’a an act of “sedition.”

Saleh, leading a party of armed loyalists partaking in a nation-wide insurgency, demanded that investigations be conducted over the killing of Officer Khaled Rida in clashes with Houthi militias last week.

Iran-allied Houthis are leading the coup against the internationally-backed government which relocated to the temporary capital, Aden.

In his first appearance after the skirmishes, Saleh said in a brief speech when he attended Radi’s funeral in Sana’a on Wednesday that he holds the self-declared political council and government of the coup responsible for the incident, reported the Popular Congress Party on its official website.

“Saleh’s speech was a covert reconciliation outreach to Houthi militias by urging the presidential council to intervene and contain the crisis that emerged after Radi’s death,” Bahraini political analyst Abdullah al-Junaid told Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper.

At the same time, Saleh relayed Houthis another message by sending a shout out for vengeance, showing that a great tribal extension stands in favor of his party, Junaid added.

Sana’a now witnesses the calm before the storm, with the prospect of armed confrontations between Saleh loyalists and Houthis increasing—such an outbreak could lead to a series of kidnapping and assassinations taking place as the two major coup factions attempt to excommunicate each other.  

A security expert said Houthis were seeking to take over southern Sana’a gates in a power grab against the insurgency-held capital, thereon removing Saleh supporters from power.

On differences emerging between coup parties in Yemen, security and political expert Muhammad al-Walas said that Houthis “are now controlling Sana’a and have laid siege to some 70 percent of its territory, while restricting control of pro-Saleh fighters to the southern gates only.”

Saleh Protests against Houthi Management, Hints at Ending Partnership

Saleh

London – Inner struggles among coup militias in Yemen erupted as ousted president Ali Abdullah Saleh, a major partner in the insurgency, criticized Iran-allied Houthis for operating under foreign agendas.

Saleh’s war of words was in response to Abdul-Malik al-Houthi’s accusations against him that he allegedly betrayed the coup and used political extortion.

Political analysts told Asharq Al-Awsat that Saleh’s speech, most notably his well-expressed desire that the General People’s Congress party needed to be distinguished from other Yemeni political components, as well as his claim that he is in charge of the constitution and the law, shows his lack of regard to his coup partners, the Houthis.

Saleh sees that Houthi militias have adopted the Iranian model and reproduced it in areas they control – lacking in self-determination, Houthis are considered under-qualified to lead or manage their territory.

“Saleh tried to deliver a message that he is a man committed to the law and is governed by the objectives of the coup, noting his rejection of Houthi doctrines” Yemeni political analyst Najib Gulab told Asharq Al-Awsat.

Gulab said that Saleh realizes that Houthis follow an ideological structure that can only produce violence and conflict and works contrary to political beliefs held within Yemen.

Despite surprising the world with their joint coup against the internationally-backed government in 2014, Houthis and armed Saleh loyalists showed differences in rhetoric and approach.

Fahd al-Sharfi, an aide to the Aden-based government information minister, said that the dispute now is taking a turn to the worst as Saleh sheds light on the Houthi’s poor management, particularly in the case of al-Malik’s uncle, Abdul Karim Amir al-Houthi, who was a shadow director for the Houthi movement.

Saleh’s reaction to the speech of the leader of Houthi was quick and clear, and demonstrated more experience in delivering counter messages to Houthi stances, explained Gulab.

More so, in order to dodge accusations of colluding with the Saudi-led Arab coalition backing Yemen’s constitutionally elected government, he repeated more than once in his speech that he was against the alliance.

Abul Gheit: Yemen’s ‘Catastrophic Situation’ Caused by Coup’s Obstruction of Peace Efforts

Yemen

Cairo- Aden- Arab League (AL) Secretary General Ahmed Abul Gheit said that coup militias in Yemen continued obstruction to a political settlement, namely solution proposals by the UN Special Envoy, is the prime reason for the country spiraling down in terms of humanitarian affairs.

The AL chief blames the Houthis for Yemen’s “catastrophic situation” due to their establishment of their own government and not responding to political settlement initiatives and UN peacemaking efforts.

The time has come for warring parties to reconsider their accounts and pay attention to the enormous suffering inflicted on Yemenis because of their policies which are based on a narrow and selfish view that has no place for the national interest, said the AL chief.

More so, Abul Gheit warned on Thursday against the growing cholera outbreak in war-ravaged Yemen, urging the international community to respond to the pleas of UN organizations to control the epidemic.

He also called on the world’s states and civil society organizations to urgently respond to the calls of the World Health Organization and the UN Children’s Fund (Unicef) to provide $22 million, out of which 16 million were immediately required, to contain the crisis.

“It is necessary to work closely to contain the cholera epidemic and prevent its outbreak in more Yemeni provinces and cities to avoid a possible humanitarian crisis whose consequences may last for years to come,” said Abul Cheit in the statement.

As many as 362,545 suspected cholera cases and 1,817 related deaths have been reported in 91.3 per cent of Yemeni governorates and 88 percent of its districts, said a WHO report on July 19.

Yemen has been suffering a civil war for about two and a half years.

The war broke out in 2014 after Iran-aligned Houthi putchists –supported by armed loyalists of the ousted president Ali Abdullah Saleh– overran the UN-backed transitional government led by President Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi and took over the capital Sanaa.

From March 2015 to March 2017, the civil war, ground battles, and air strikes killed over 10,000 Yemenis, half of whom are civilians, injured about 40,000 and displaced over two million, according to humanitarian agencies.

Houthis Exclude Saleh by Monopolizing Coup Council

Houthi militants ride on the back of a patrol truck as they attend a tribal gathering held to show support to the Houthi movement in Sanaa, Yemen

Riyadh – As Houthi rebels refused to hand over the leadership of the political council to the General People’s Congress, which is headed by former Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh, questions were raised over the escalating dispute between Yemen’s two insurgent groups.

An agreement reached between the Houthis and Saleh supporters in July 2016 stipulated that Houthis and the General People’s Congress should assume the presidency of the so-called political council by rotation.

However, during an extraordinary meeting held in Sanaa on Tuesday, Houthi rebels have agreed to extend the term of the current president and their own representative, Saleh al-Sammad, whose term was supposed to end in December 2016.

In this regard, the insurgents led news agency, Saba, reported that the members of the political council have unanimously agreed, during their extraordinary meeting, to extend the current president’s term for two consecutive terms of four months each.

The members justified their decision by claiming that it reflected “satisfaction with the performance of the current presidency in light of the complexities of the situation.”

Based on the former agreement between the insurgency allies, the current presidency should be handed over to the General People’s Congress and its allies.

Yemeni political writer Hamdan al-Alyi said that these measures represented an intentional concession by Saleh and his allies in order to further implicate the Houthis in the coming days.

In remarks to Asharq al-Awsat newspaper, Alyi said: “This measure (and the concession) in favor of the Houthis is aimed at involving them more (in the state administration) because Saleh and the General People’s Congress do not want to assume the responsibility of the state administration in such a situation.”

“The Congress and Saleh know very well that if they assume power, the first issue they will have to face is the employees’ salaries – an issue that is difficult to deal with at this stage,” he added.