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Yemen risks disintegration as south rejects Shi’ite group’s takeover

Yemen risks disintegration as south rejects Shi’ite group’s takeover thumbnail

No sooner had Yemeni President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi announced his resignation than his country’s tenuous political fabric began to disintegrate.

Provinces across a nation barely held together by a complex web of tribal and religious alliances said they would no longer take military commands from Sanaa after the Iranian-allied Shi’ite Houthi group besieged Hadi’s home and palace this week.

The emerging fragmentation of the Arabian Peninsula country has sparked fears of the “Somalization” of a state which is home to a revitalized al Qaeda insurgency as well as a neighbor to top oil exporter Saudi Arabia.

For Washington, Yemen’s splintering would make it hard to carry out a counter-terrorism strategy against al Qaeda plotters who have targeted it and its ally Saudi Arabia and claimed responsibility for the Jan. 7 Charlie Hebdo attacks in Paris.

Through Hadi, a supporter of U.S. drone strikes on al Qaeda, Yemen was a top U.S. ally in the Washington’s fight against islamist militancy.

For Yemen’s neighbors, especially Saudi Arabia, the rise of the Houthis resembles yet another fallen domino in capitals where allies of regional rival Iran have risen to power – including Damascus, Beirut and Baghdad.

The Houthi fighters, a guerrilla force drawn from a Shi’ite minority that ruled a thousand-year kingdom in Yemen’s highlands until 1962, first seized the capital Sanaa in September.

They managed to coexist with Hadi until last week, when fighters crushed the president’s guards and deployed outside his home. Although Hadi signed a deal acceding to many of the Houthis’ demands, that attempt to defuse the crisis failed and he unexpectedly resigned soon afterwards.


His move sparked a chain reaction from other provinces, some home to powerful military divisions, to dissociate themselves with the capital, where the Houthis are ostensibly in control even if they have not quite figured out a way to govern.

“People are angry, people are scared. The worst is that it could turn into a civil war,” a diplomatic source said.

“It’s chaos,” said another diplomat.

In the southern city of Aden, once the capital of a Marxist independent South Yemen, the local security committee said it would no longer receive orders from the capital Sanaa.

Yemen’s north and south united in 1990 but civil war broke out four years later, with then-President Ali Abdullah Saleh crushing southern secessionists to maintain the union.

Now, various leaders of a long stagnant separatist movement have announced their secession. None speak for the entire region, comprised of eight provinces, sparking fears of further localized fighting among southerners.


In Aden, local groups raised the flag of the south in the general security building. In Mukallah, the capital city of the Hadramout province, militia fanned out across the city.

In Ateq, capital city of the restive Shabwa province, local media reports said joint patrols by a secessionist group and local security had also taken over security of the area.

In the eastern oil-rich province of Marib, which has emerged as a flashpoint between the Houthis and Sunni tribesmen in recent months, local political and security officials denounced the Jan. 19 events as a coup and said they would no longer take orders from Sanaa either.

In Taiz and Ibb, thousands of anti-Houthi protesters also took to the streets. “We reject the coup,” they said, in festive street protests reminiscent of the 2011 “Arab Spring” demonstrations that brought down Hadi’s long-serving predecessor, Saleh.

Even in Sanaa, factional fighting is a possibility with the army torn in its loyalties to the ousted Saleh or to the orders of the Houthis.

The political vacuum showed no signs of easing as parliament indefinitely postponed its session to approve or reject Hadi’s resignation as backroom political dealings carried on to negotiate a way out of the crisis.


In recent days the capital has seen the first serious rejection of Houthi rule since their takeover.

Many Sanaa residents have complained as fighters have set up checkpoints, taken over government ministries and spray painted their green-and-red Iranian-inspired “Death to America, Death to Israel” slogans on mosques and the wall around the Old City.

Initially there was little public action in a country that has gone through numerous cycles of instability. But this week saw the largest anti-Houthi demonstration since the movement took over the capital.

“We say no to the coup. No to Abdelmalek al-Houthi,” said Samar, 35, referring to the Houthis’ leader, whose family name is carried by the group.

In a sign the Houthis might be losing patience, witnesses said they broke up a small protest outside Sanaa University on Sunday, firing shots in the air and arresting eight protesters.

For Ahmed Ali, an elderly corn seller on the busy streets of Sanaa, the protests are no use.

“The Houthis are bulls. I support these protests but what is the use? The Houthis deal with force.”



7 Comments on "Yemen risks disintegration as south rejects Shi’ite group’s takeover"

  1. Plantagenet on Sun, 25th Jan 2015 11:22 am 

    Obama has been hitting targets in Yemen with drone missile attacks for years. Now he has more targets to attack.

  2. bobinget on Sun, 25th Jan 2015 11:37 am 

    Civil Chaos in Yemen Spells Big Problems for
    Saudi Sunni’s.

    It’s not an exageration to compare Iraq to the current situation in Yemen, soon, Saudi Arabia.

    In Iraq ISIS continues to make gains. Serial Suicide
    Bombers rack up major body counts.


    From the air, things appear to be going well for the US-led coalition that has dropped more than 1,700 bombs on Islamic State (Isis) targets in Iraq and Syria, scattering the terror group in some areas and slowing its momentum in others.

    But the view on the ground tells a different story, officials and tribal leaders in Iraq say. The absence of a political process to accompany the air strikes is instead driving Sunni communities to consider allying with Isis, they claim, especially in sensitive areas around Baghdad.

    “The Baghdad belt demonstrates the lack of strategy and reconciliation. There is widespread ethnic cleansing there, militias are roaming the areas. Scores and scores of people … have been expelled from their areas and they can’t go back because of the dominance of the militias.”

    Poster’s note:

    ISIS is preparing to go round Baghdad attacking Iraq’s southern oil fields.
    Despite US, UK, Can, Fr, Gr air-cover, battles for oilfields promise be the bloodiest so far.

    The question remains: How many Iraqis, Yemenis,
    Syrians, need to die to keep oil below $100?

    That’s NOT a retorical question.

    Another fifty, seventy five, one hundred thousand?
    Saudis in air-conditioned palaces really can’t be bothered.

    Highest tension times as we have today remind
    of the following ‘incident’:

    ON JAN. 25, 1995 — 20 years ago today — the launch of a lone scientific rocket from a small island off the northwest coast of Norway set off Russia’s nuclear attack early warning system.

    As the rocket took off, it initially passed above the horizon of the curved earth into the field of view of Russian radar. After the motor shut down, the rocket then coasted to higher altitudes — into the middle of the major attack corridor between the US intercontinental ballistic missile fields at Grand Forks, N.D., and Moscow. Unknown to the scientists who launched it, one of the rocket’s stages finished its powered flight at an altitude and speed comparable to that expected from a Trident submarine-launched ballistic missile. This combination of events exactly fit the template of an attack scenario under which nuclear weapons are intentionally exploded at high altitudes so as to blind early warning radars before a major bombardment of Russian nuclear forces.

    The most immediate explanation for what went wrong that day appears to be serious shortfalls in the Russians’ detection apparatus. But the underlying root cause stems from Russian paranoia. Fears created and bolstered by the relentless, obsessive — and ongoing — American nuclear force modernization

  3. GregT on Sun, 25th Jan 2015 11:53 am 

    “Obama has been hitting targets in Yemen with drone missile attacks for years. Now he has more targets to attack.”

    Obama is a politician Plant, he is not a soldier or a military strategist. You are one very delusional person Plant.

  4. Bob Owens on Sun, 25th Jan 2015 1:40 pm 

    Yemen, one of the poorest countries in the world, with little water, food or oil, riddled with tribal strife, over-populated by a factor of 50, can only descend into chaos or civil war. That is its future until enough people die so the remaining land resources can support them. A very bleak future.

  5. Speculawyer on Sun, 25th Jan 2015 2:40 pm 

    I’ve been saying that Yemen has been headed to failed state status for a while now. It looks like they may have achieved it.

    The scary thing is how will Saudi Arabia react? They’ve been propping up Yemen for while. But now that Yemen fell and Saudi Arabia may blame Iran for this . . . well, who knows how this may escalate? 🙁

  6. shortonoil on Sun, 25th Jan 2015 5:23 pm 

    The question remains: How many Iraqis, Yemenis, Syrians, need to die to keep oil below $100?

    That comment makes absolutely no sense what so ever! It is an insult to the intelligence of readership of this site!

  7. Makati1 on Sun, 25th Jan 2015 7:07 pm 

    bobinget, as you said, the next war may start by accident. Nervous fingers too close to the nuclear button. But, until then, we just have the problems of too much oil, too many people and not enough intelligence. The scum has risen to the top in most leadership these days.

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