Reports of emerging rifts between the Iran-backed Al Houthi militia and ousted Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh have led to speculation that the awkward rebel alliance may be coming to an end.
The development could prove positive for Yemen’s internationally-recognised government, engaged in an open war with the rebel alliance.
Tensions between Al Houthis and Saleh loyalists were bound to occur as the two entities could not be more diametrically opposed — in fact during his rule, Saleh had often cracked down on them, creating a bitter relationship and bad blood. This is why when the two groups formed an alliance against the government of Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi, many observers were scratching their heads on just how these two groups had joined forces.
Hadi decamped to Aden early in 2015 after escaping Al Houthi house arrest. The southerners threw their weight behind Hadi and the Saudi-led coalition intervened militarily in Yemen to blunt Al Houthis’ military expansion and to bring Hadi back to power.
When reports emerged earlier this year that Al Houthi militia leader Abdul Malek Al Houthi was planning to assassinate Saleh, the seemingly strong alliance showed its first signs of weakness.
Since then, Al Houthi media has been working on discrediting the ousted president. Saleh, in turn, threatened to expose the militia to the Arab coalition and described the militia as extremists.
Saleh might be regretting his decision to team up with the rebel group, which has proved itself to be a stooge of Iran, rather than legitimate representatives of the Yemeni people.
With all his faults, Saleh, on the other hand, has the deeply rooted loyalty of many Yemenis, whom he ruled over for 30 years, before he was ousted in 2011. And while Saleh certainly does not deserve a place at the political table in Yemen’s future, his General People’s Congress, a political party with wide support across the country, will have to be included in the political process.
The People’s Congress will, in fact, have a critical role to play in helping piece the country back together and establish a genuine unity government for the Yemeni people — by the Yemeni people.
Al Houthis have proven that not only can they not be trusted, but they are opportunists looking out for their own interest rather than the interest of the Yemeni people.
Al Houthis, time and time again, have proven, that they would rather do Iran’s bidding than spare the Yemeni people another day of agony, with their senseless power grab.