Rashad al-Alimi
Rashad al-Alimi, Yemen's former deputy prime minister for security affairs, speaks during a news conference in Sanaa. Image Credit: Reuters

Yemen’s President Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi practically stepped down on Thursday, delegating all his powers to a new presidential council in a move that will hopefully pave the way for peace in the 7-year-old war.

The 8-member council, whose members come equally from the north and south of Yemen and represent the main political entities, is tasked mainly with negotiating with the Iran-backed Al Houthi militia to end the war, based on the United Nations-endorsed road map drawn by the Gulf Cooperation’s Council (GCC). The move came as the UN-backed 2-month truce in Yemen has already taken effect at the start of Ramadan.

“I irreversibly delegate to the Presidential Leadership Council my full powers in accordance with the constitution and the Gulf Initiative and its executive mechanism,” Hadi said on state television. He also dismissed his vice-president and divisive figure Ali Al Ahmar. Saudi Arabia announced $3 billion in financial aid to the government and called for talks with the Houthi militias to end the war.

Hadi said he made this decision as per the results of the intra-Yemeni consultations that took place in Riyadh in recent weeks and out of his “historic responsibility” to pave the way for a peaceful settlement to the conflict. His decision to relinquish the presidential powers to the leadership council is expected to unite politically, militarily and financially influential Yemini parties with the aim to form a united block in the face of the Al Houthis’ growing threat. A strong united front is needed at this stage to negotiate with the Iran-backed militia, which still controls large parts of the North, including the capital Sana’a.

All Gulf states have welcomed Hadi’s decision because supporting this important move at this critical stage of the war will help create the right conditions for the UN and GCC efforts to revive the peace talks. In addition, it will encourage the anti-Al Houthi forces to unite and focus on the national goal of saving Yemen, restoring stability and preserving its territorial unity.

The GCC realises that this decision was necessary because of the government’s inability to stop the rapid deterioration of the political, military and economic conditions. The new council will hopefully give a much-needed boost to the government efforts, especially in improving the living conditions of millions of Yemenis in the liberated regions.

But the main task is to unite all national forces to stop Al Houthi aggression and pressure the militia into ending its war on the Yemeni people.