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Resistance in Yemen: changing the balance in the region

by Salvo Ardizzone

Yemen is a forgotten country far from the reaches of the Media world, and yet its ongoing bloody transition is destinated to change the balance in the region. Yemen is a very poor country with no resources and this is the reason why the world is not interested in its affairs. The country is an arid expanse mostly montainous similarly to the French territory with low standards of life for its over 24 millions of inhabitants, divided among clans and tribes like in the old days.

Ruled from ‘Abdallah Saleh as if it was his property, president of the North country at the time of the division, then head of the unified nation untill 2011, when the protest forced him to resign. Since then the general instability and harsh conflicts marked with destruction everywhere in the country.

Ended last January, the National Conference for the building of the new State didn’t prevent the weapons to act on the field: Houthis rebels (Shia tribes for many years persecuted and today organized within the Ansarullah Movement), have driven away the militias close to Al-Islah (Muslim Brotherhood and Salafi groups), toghether with Al-Ahmar and those powerfull groups close to Al-Qaeda in the Arabic Peninsula (Aqap). Their target has been the enlargement of their administrated areas on the border with Saudi Arabia to Amran and the capital Sana’a ruled similarly to an autonomous government.

In the overall disorder, the General People’Congress (Gpc) close to the president, gained upon the enemies: Islah and Al-Ahmar. Today, after six military campaigns launched against the Houthi rebels, the president supports Shia rebels and tries to exploit them in order to repel the common rivals.

Using the cuts to the public welfare and the rise of the necessity goods, Ansarullah adopted the slogan against the corruption (the same used to fight Saleh) and in August challenged the central governement. After protests and armed clashes with the opponents, the militants took control over the capital without reaction from the security forces.

After long negotiations, on Septermber 21, the National Peace Agreement has been signed and one week later the Houthis have undersigned the annex which regulate the military aspects.

Rather long and articulated, the Agreement signed by all the Yemeni political subjects, aims to regulate the transition of a new governement, rewrite the Constitution and set up measures against corruption and nepotism (much widespread at the time of Saleh). The annex mentions also the disarmament of the militias, the end of the hostility and the withdrawal of the armed groups from various areas of the country.

Since all the involved parties misunderstood the Ansarullah “diversity” with its ability to expand its influence and to damage tribal, Salafi and Al-Qaeda groups, most certainly the Agreement will stay unanswered letter.

The Houthi Movement is not just an emanation of the Shia minority, nor it has been set up for its own interests; but it took inspiration from Hizbullah, the Lebanese Resistance Movement for the presence of various religious orientations, because well rooted in the territory and for the militar and social strength.

Indeed the power of Ansarullah is not based only on the strength of its militias but on the general consensus which derived from the quality of the administration of the territories it controls and the welfare services addressed to the population. That’s why we can call Ansarullah a sort of State within the State characterized by ideology and not by tribe values.

Such “management”, totally innovative for the country Yemen, has reduced extraordinarily the power of the tribal groups such as Al-Ahmar and the other Sunni clans close to the Houthis. Furthermore the new scheme decreases the consensus given to Muslim Brotherhood, Salafis Islah and Al-Qaeda groups like Aqap and Ansar Al-Shari’a. Despite that it will clash with the old power of president Saleh from whom they will inherit the old base of consensus (blackmail and clientelism).

Watching with favour to Ansarullah in order to smite the rivals Al-Islah and Al-Ahmar, Saleh will probably introduce his son Ahmed to the next election, but he will surely meet the movement of corruption which once was familiar to him.

The threat from Al-Qaeda groups will remain. Removed by Houthis from their strongholds, Al-Qaeda groups intend to take revenge through bloody attacks. After the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia attempted to oppress Ansarullah, it began to support Al-Qaeda groups in order to keep the first far from its borders. In fact, for the Wahhabi Kingdom, such a neighbour may represent the beginning of its fall.

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