Yemen Crisis Continues; No Sign of a Settlement

27 July 2011 FDI Team

Background

The political situation in Yemen remains unchanged with little prospect of any group assuming control over the fractious country.

Comment

President Ali Abdullah Saleh shows no sign of preparing to hand over power. He may even be firming his hold by conducting meetings in Riyadh with a number of senior foreign officials, including the White House counterterrorism chief.

Saleh may also be benefitting from the fractured nature of the opposition.  Two movements now exist and they appear increasingly to be in competition with each other.

The government may also have achieved a positive result by repairing the oil pipeline that was damaged in March. As a result, 150,000 barrels per day will now be moved to the oil refinery in Aden. The resulting oil revenue, together with donations from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, should enable the government to buy additional tribal and political support.

Saudi Arabia, operating through the Gulf Co-operation Council, appears not to have had any success in its attempts to have Saleh resign.  Nor has any alternative plan appeared.

Further complicating these issues are three groups that have consistently opposed the government in Sana’a.

The northern al-Houthi tribe has taken advantage of the situation and consolidated its presence in Saada Province, as well as expanding its control in at least one neighbouring province.

The southern separatists, despite their fractured nature, continue to resist any deal with the al-Ahmar clan that started the revolt.

Jihadist groups, with Al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula the most notable, have attempted to exploit the situation, especially in Abyan Province. Troops commanded by Ali Mohsen al-Ahman, and supported by local tribesmen, have had some success in containing these elements, but it remains to be seen if this is a long-term achievement.

The bottom line is that neither Saleh’s regime nor the opposition groups have the capacity to achieve any semblance of national control in the foreseeable future.

Major General John Hartley AO (Retd)

FDI Institute Director and CEO

 

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