On 7/4/2022, a Yemeni Presidential Leadership Council was formed in Saudi Arabia in place of President Hadi who handed over his full powers to this council. Previously, on 2/4/2022, the conflicting parties had agreed to a truce in Yemen for a period of two months.
Question: Was that truce a prelude to this Council? And what is its purpose? Why do the Houthis abstain from supporting the Council even though they agreed to the truce, and Iran agreed to it?!
In order to clarify the answer to these questions, we review the following matters
First: The reality of the truce, and the formation of the Council and its powers:
1- [The United Nations Special Envoy for Yemen, Hans Grundberg, announced that a two-month truce that could be extended in Yemen entered into force on Saturday evening, 2/4/2022, the first day of Ramadan. The United Nations and the United States welcomed the sudden truce and called for its extension. Grundberg thanked the Houthis and the internationally recognized government for working with him “in good faith and to make the necessary concessions to reach this agreement.” He considered that “the truce is only a first step that its time has come after a long delay.” Grundberg confirmed that he would continue to work within two months “with the aim of achieving a permanent ceasefire.” For his part, US President, Joe Biden, on Friday welcomed the truce in Yemen, which he described as “a reprieve that the Yemeni people have been waiting for a long time,” but considered it “not enough”. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson welcomed Friday’s announcement and urged “work towards a lasting political solution”. “We now have a window of opportunity to finally secure peace and end human suffering,” Johnson said on Twitter. (France 24 / AFP 2/4/2022)].
2- At the same time as the talks on the truce were taking place, a conference was held in Riyadh on 30/3/2022 and lasted for a week. It included about 800 Yemeni personalities under the sponsorship of the Gulf and foreign representatives from the United Nations, America, Britain and others. At the end of it, the Yemeni President Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi residing in Riyadh, announced on 7/4/2022, the formation of a Presidential Leadership Council that he delegated all of his powers entrusted to him, and dismissed his deputy, Ali Mohsen al-Ahmar. Yemeni television broadcasted Hadi’s declaration, in which he said: “A Presidential Leadership Council will be established in accordance with this declaration to complete the implementation of the tasks of the transitional phase, and I authorize the Presidential Leadership Council, according to this declaration, an irreversible delegation of my full powers in accordance with the constitution, the Gulf initiative and its executive mechanism.” He also assigned it to “negotiate with the Houthis to stop constant firing throughout the republic and sitting at the negotiating table to reach a final and comprehensive political solution that includes a transitional phase that will move Yemen from a state of war to a state of peace.” The council is charged with negotiating with the Houthis to find a final solution.
3- The powers of the Presidential Council include [“administering the state politically, militarily and security throughout the transitional period and adopting a balanced foreign policy in a manner that preserves the state’s policy and borders.” The powers of the President of the Presidential Council, Rashad Al-Alimi, include “the general command of the armed forces, representation of the republic at home and abroad, and the appointment of governorate governors, security directors and court judges, the Supreme Council, the Governor of the Central Bank, the establishment of diplomatic missions, the declaration of emergency and general mobilization.” (Al-Ain News 11/4/2022)]. This council includes 8 members, including its head Rashad Al-Alimi, the former Minister of Interior and advisor to the Yemeni President, and the membership of Aidarous Al-Zubaidi, President of the Southern Transitional Council, who is close to the Emirates, and Tariq Saleh, the nephew of former Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh, who took over the leadership of the president’s private guard during Ali Saleh’s term, and the governor of Ma’rib, Sultan Ali Al-Arada, who is loyal to the Yemeni Congregation for Reform party, and Abdullah Al-Alimi, the minister loyal to this party and the director of President Hadi’s office, and the leader General of the Giants Brigades Abd al-Rahman Abu Zara’a al-Muharrami, the Governor of Hadhramaut Faraj al-Bahsani, and Othman Majali, the representative of Sa’ada governorate and a minister in the current government with the rank of deputy. It is noted that all members of the Presidential Leadership Council are backed by the UAE and the group of President Hadi himself, so the active opinion in the council is subordinate to Britain. The council brought together representatives of the southern powers to be partners in the negotiations and in signing any agreement reached with the Houthis, so that no one could object in the future. He also announced the continuation of Parliament’s mandate and the renewal of confidence in the government of competencies. It appears that the intention is for all parties to sign any upcoming agreement to give legitimacy for the Houthi group and make it part of the political and security structure in the country.
Second: International and Regional Reactions:
1- Saudi Arabia welcomed the truce and with this decision, and announced the provision of economic aid of 3 billion dollars, including two billion dollars, divided equally between it and the UAE in support of the Central Bank. Afterwards on 7/4/2022 the Saudi Crown Prince, Muhammad bin Salman (“received the President of the Presidential Leadership Council, Rashad Al-Alimi, and the members of the Council and expressed his support for him and his aspiration that its establishment would contribute to the beginning of a new page in Yemen that would move it from war to peace and development.” (Al Arabiya 7/4/2022). Khalid bin Salman, Deputy Minister of Defense, said on his Twitter account on 9/4/2022, “The brave and historic step taken by Yemeni President Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi in transferring power to the Presidential Leadership Council, which was supported by the elites and political components, the Yemeni community, and the international community’s unanimous support, establishes an important and decisive stage to achieve peace, security and stability for Yemen and the region.” He said: “We affirm the continuation of the coalition to support legitimacy in Yemen with the support of the Council at all levels, including military support, until a political solution is reached that ends the crisis.” Saudi Arabia wants to get rid of the consequences of the war, which has cost it a lot and has shown it to be weak and unable to achieve its goals. This council formed by Hadi, although loyal to Britain, but the aim of its establishment is to negotiate with the Houthis and to make concessions in order to make the negotiations successful.
2- As for the UAE, [the United Arab Emirates welcomed the decision of former Yemeni President Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi to form the Presidential Leadership Council to complete the implementation of the tasks of the transitional phase… expressing its hope that this step will contribute to reaching a comprehensive political solution between the Yemeni parties, to achieve peace and stability, development and prosperity for Yemen and its brotherly people… The UAE welcomed the call of the sisterly Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the Presidential Leadership Council, to start negotiations with the Houthis under the supervision of the United Nations to reach a final and comprehensive political solution that includes a transitional period, stressing the pivotal role played by the Kingdom in achieving stability and security for Yemen.” (Al-Arabiya 8/4/2022)]
3- As for the Houthi group, its position was equivocal! It agreed to the truce and was an active element in it, and it received the UN envoy to Yemen, Hans Grundberg, in Sana’a for a period of 3 days, during which he met the leadership of the Ansar Allah Al-Houthi political council and discussed the implementation and consolidation of the truce. But its position on the new Yemeni leadership council was different! The Houthi group announced its rejection of Hadi’s recent decisions. Its spokesman, Muhammad Abd al-Salam, said on his Telegram account after that: (these measures taken by the coalition of aggression have nothing to do with Yemen or reconciliation and have nothing to do with peace, but rather push for escalation by regrouping scattered conflicting militias in one framework that serves the interests of abroad and the countries of aggression). An invitation was extended to the Houthi group to participate in the conference, but it refused to attend because it was held in Saudi Arabia, and requested that it is held in a neutral country. This means that the Houthi group will participate in upcoming conferences and negotiate with the council. Although it has now rejected the decision regarding the formation of the council and its members, it shows that its aim is to strengthen its position in the upcoming negotiations. It is directly linked to Iran, which is in the orbit of America. It agreed to a truce at the beginning of the month of Ramadan that will last for two months, subject to extension, and this truce was formulated as a prelude to that council and a prelude to negotiations.
4- Iran’s position: [Tehran stressed its welcome to the truce and the importance of holding a Yemeni dialogue away from foreign interference. For his part, Iranian Foreign Minister Hussein Amir Abdollahian said that his country welcomes the ceasefire in Yemen and stresses the need to lift the siege on Yemenis and launch a Yemeni-Yemeni dialogue away from foreign interference. The Iranian Foreign Minister added in a press conference with his Iraqi counterpart Fouad Hussein that his country stresses the importance of conducting a regional dialogue between the countries of the region. (Al Jazeera 14/4/2022)] The Houthis followed them on this.
5- America’s position: The United States of America welcomed the announcement of the formation of the Presidential Leadership Council in Yemen:
a- A statement by US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken stated: “The United States supports the aspirations of the Yemeni people for an effective, democratic and transparent government that includes diverse voices from politicians and civil society,” adding that most importantly, Yemenis deserve a government that protects rights and freedoms, along with promoting justice, accountability and reconciliation… (https://sabq.org 8/4/2022)
b- US State Department spokesman Ned Price wrote on Twitter on 8/4/2022 a statement saying: “The United States of America welcomes the announcement of the formation of a presidential leadership council in Yemen.”
c- US envoy to Yemen, Tim Lenderking, gave an opening speech at the Riyadh Conference on Yemen, saying: “The United States supports the Yemeni parties reaching a comprehensive peaceful solution. The Yemeni consultations represent an international commitment to make the situation more stable.” (DBA 30/3/2022). At the conclusion of the conference, the US envoy said: “The United States is looking forward to Iran playing a positive role and changing its approach in Yemen.” He said, “Perhaps this crucial moment that we have reached is the point at which Iran can show a better face.” to the international community”... (CNN 6/4/2022).
Thus, America has supported Hadi’s step to hand over his powers to the council, and is focusing on Iran playing an active role in Yemen and then involving Al-Houthi in governance. Al-Houthi cannot survive without Iranian support.
6- Britain’s position: [The British Foreign Secretary, Liz Truss, welcomed today, Friday, the announcement of Yemeni President Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi to form a presidential leadership council that includes representatives of various social and political forces. And Truss, as reported by Yemen satellite channel, welcomed the announcement of Saudi Arabia and the UAE for valuable aid of $3 billion to support the Yemeni economy. (https://alwafd.news/ 8/4/2022)].
[Richard Oppenheim, the British ambassador to Yemen, explained in an exclusive interview with the London-based Asharq Al-Awsat Newspaper, published today, Thursday, that the results of the Yemeni-Yemeni consultations, which will conclude today at the headquarters of the Gulf Cooperation Council in Riyadh, can be used in future talks under the sponsorship of the UN special envoy. At the same time, he pointed out that the success of the truce is in the hands of the parties, not the observers. Oppenheim stressed that his country encourages any dialogue that leads to a solution to the problem of Yemen, noting that any agreement between Saudi Arabia and the Houthis will be the basis for a final political solution… (https://www.dw.com/ 7/4/2022)].
Third: Considering the above, it becomes clear that:
1- The Saudi military intervention that began in 2015 aimed, as America planned, to consolidate the Houthis, not to eliminate them. Likewise, the Stockholm Conference, which was held at American orders in 2018, prevented the UAE and the Yemeni forces that support it, preventing them from controlling Hodeidah, and obliging them to retreat from the progress towards Sana’a. And rid it of the Houthis as Britain was planning… So Britain began to think of a ‘temporary’ solution with America, so it pushed its agent Hadi to take this step, and this appears from the words of the British ambassador to Yemen Richard Oppenheim, who participated in the conference, in which he said:
[The Houthis are welcome to participate in discussions and consultations under the sponsorship of the Cooperation Council. It is in their hands to take this opportunity and there will be an opportunity in the future under the sponsorship of the Cooperation Council elsewhere in the region and also under the sponsorship of the UN envoy. The Houthis should be part of the negotiations because they are an important part of the Yemeni political sphere. (Ash-Sharq Al- Awsat 7/4/2022)]. The British ambassador, who represented his country at the conference held in Riyadh, announces the changes that have taken place in the British position since 2016. It appears that it has decided to involve the Houthis, as it has not been able to eliminate them or keep them away from Sanaa through its agents, the UAE and the Yemeni forces that it funds.
2- On 11/4/2022, the UN envoy to Yemen, Hans Grundberg, arrived in Sana’a for the first time since taking office 8 months ago, and met with officials of the Houthi group. A statement issued by his office said [“Grundberg’s plane landed in Sana’a with the aim of urging the Houthi leadership to implement and consolidate a 60-day ceasefire in the war-ravaged country.” (AP 11/04/2022)].
At the conclusion of his visit, he said: [“He discussed with the Houthi political leaders in Sanaa the developments of implementing the truce with all its elements and ways to build on it as a step towards a comprehensive political solution to the conflict.” (Anadolu Agency 13/4/2022)]. So, the UN envoy carried to the Houthis the decisions of the last conference to prepare them for negotiation after removing the powers from President Hadi and giving them to the presidential council. [The Security Council, in a statement issued unanimously by 15 countries, expressed the hope that the formation of the Council would represent an “important step towards stability and a comprehensive Yemeni-led political settlement under the sponsorship of the United Nations.” It called on the Houthi group to “engage and work with the United Nations Special Envoy Hans Grundberg in his efforts to achieve a comprehensive ceasefire and negotiate a comprehensive political solution.” (aa.com.tr)].
3- The members of the Presidential Council are loyal to Britain as a whole, and the conference to approve the council was sponsored by the pro-American Saudi Arabia and was held there in Riyadh, and although the Houthis did not attend it, Iran and the Houthis who are treading its path agreed to the truce that was a prelude to the approval of the Council. America and Britain had agreed to the truce and the Council, although they waged a war so that each of them would have exclusive control in the affairs of Yemen, but now they and their regional and local tools have agreed to the truce and the Council! All this indicates that important reasons that have occurred in the situation have prompted both America and Britain to abandon their differences to achieve their sole control in Yemen, and then to move towards a consensual solution, even if “temporary” at this stage… As for these reasons, they can be realized from the developments that have occurred during the last weeks or months and are as follows:
a- The war in Ukraine and its repercussions on America and the countries of Europe, especially England, these countries made most of their attention to that war
b- Sana’a forces targeting the infrastructure of the Saudi oil industry with winged missiles, and its repercussions on the future of global oil supplies, at a time when America pledged to European countries against the background of the Russian war in Ukraine, to provide an alternative to Russia for energy sources in Europe, and since Saudi Arabia can pump large quantities of oil, it can fill a large part of the European need for oil as a substitute for Russian oil. On the other hand, no less important, the increase in Saudi oil pumping is working to curb its prices in the markets, which increases the chances of the Democratic Party’s election in the mid-term round of Congress in November 2022: (An official source in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that Riyadh “will not be responsible for any shortage of oil supplies to global markets in light of the attacks it is exposed to.” (France 24, 25/3/2022). All of this was pushing America to calm the situation between the Houthis and Saudi Arabia.
c- The United States is preoccupied with the conflict with China in the Far East and the North China Sea.
d- Hadi’s failure to impose his authority on Yemen, which has been going through successive crises, since his election in 2012, which affected its performance.
e- This war continued for about seven years without any of the conflicting parties led by America and Britain being able to achieve its goals
f- Finally, the current circumstances of America, as well as the circumstances of Britain, pushed them to this consensus:
America, on its part, realizes the strong influence of the British in the political center in Yemen, and realizes its influence over some of the northern tribes that have gathered and fought the Houthis very fiercely in Ma’rib, and prevented them from tightening control over northern Yemen, and that the militias supported by the UAE have succeeded in almost tightening their control over the south. In the sense that America believes that the Houthis are unable to control all of Yemen, and this makes America accept to share influence in Yemen with Britain after it had nothing significant under its influence before 2014.
As for Britain, which lost influence in Saudi Arabia with the advent of Salman and his son to power in 2015, and Saudi Arabia began to work for America, and so Britain’s regional tools have weakened, and this new reality makes Britain facing these major regional changes, especially if America’s expansion of the Iranian role in the region renders it incapable of restoring the situation in Yemen under its control, and so it also accepts to share influence with the Americans in Yemen. This conviction on both sides (America and Britain) creates a suitable atmosphere for a political solution in Yemen.
4- Thus, the truce, this decision, and the formation of the council, all of this was done with an American-British consensus, and the agents and circles in the orbit follow this consensus… However, there is something that must not be forgotten, since each of the colonial countries are usually keen on to have influence alone over the colonial countries, it does not resort to consensus unless it is forced to do so, so it resorts to consensus temporarily, then each of them works with its insidious means to pull the rug out from under the other… Therefore, this consensus is consistent with the reasons mentioned above, and in all cases, this consensus is not always going to be followed by America and Britain, in fact, the conflict will continue between them, even if it is in covert ways, until the circumstances that called for this consensus change, and the voice of the conflict becomes louder again. The broad line among the colonial countries is that they play the game of time. If they cannot achieve their goals to get unilateral influence at once, they leave the matter to time, and make attempts to achieve their goals.
5- Yemen is the subject of an international conflict between America and Britain and their tools of regional and local powers. The people affected are the people of Yemen, as they are the fuel and victim of this conflict, as it has caused famine, poverty and deteriorating conditions in all its aspects. There is no way out for them except to return to Allah (swt) and rely on Him, to reject all these tools and their masters, and work with the sincere to establish the rule of Allah (swt) represented by the Khilafah Rashidah (rightly-guided Caliphate) on the method of the Prophethood.
وَمَنْ يَتَّقِ اللَّهَ يَجْعَلْ لَهُ مَخْرَجاً * وَيَرْزُقْهُ مِنْ حَيْثُ لَا يَحْتَسِبُ وَمَنْ يَتَوَكَّلْ عَلَى اللَّهِ فَهُوَ حَسْبُهُ إِنَّ اللَّهَ بَالِغُ أَمْرِهِ قَدْ جَعَلَ اللَّهُ لِكُلِّ شَيْءٍ قَدْراً
“And whoever fears Allah - He will make for him a way out * And will provide for him from where he does not expect. And whoever relies upon Allah - then He is sufficient for him. Indeed, Allah will accomplish His purpose. Allah has already set for everything a [decreed] extent” [At-Talaq: 2-3]