World View: Yemen Government Resigns, Creating Power Vacuum for AQAP to Fill

AFP Photo/Mohammed Huwais
AFP Photo/Mohammed Huwais

This morning’s key headlines from

  • Yemen government resigns, creating power vacuum for AQAP to fill
  • Southern Yemen leaders call for secession from North Yemen
  • Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah dies

Yemen government resigns, creating power vacuum for AQAP to fill

A tank sits near the presidential palace in Sanaa Yemen on Thursday (CNN)
A tank sits near the presidential palace in Sanaa Yemen on Thursday (CNN)

The agreement reached on Wednesday between Yemen’s Sunni president Abdu Rabu Mansour Hadi and the Shia leader Abdel-Malek al-Houthi or the insurgent Houthi militias collapsed within 24 hours after it was agreed. It was not so much an agreement between equal partners, anyway. It was much more a set of demands forced on Hadi by the Houthis. On Thursday morning, al-Houthi refused to remove his troops from Sanaa, and Hadi resigned, taking his cabinet with him.

Most commentators agree that what the Houthis wanted was for a weakened Hadi to remain as president, where he could be controlled by the Houthis. The Houthis apparently do not want to take complete control of the government, and so Hadi’s resignation presents them with a problem. The Houthis announced that they are appointing a military council to select a successor, but the choice will be tricky.

Hadi was the deputy of former president Ali Abdullah Saleh, and when Saleh was forced out by a coup in 2012, Hadi was the “safe choice” to replace him, someone that everyone could live with. Thus, Hadi’s resignation now, along with his cabinet, creates a power vacuum that will be very hard to fill.

For Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), the chaos in the capital city Sanaa is a golden opportunity. AQAP has been partially held in check by US drone strikes coordinated with the Hadi government, but now AQAP may have nothing to hold them back. AQAP will tap into the discontent of all the Sunni warlords and Sunni tribes, pointing to the Iran-backed Shia militias in power and the overthrow of the Sunni president, who was supported by Saudi Arabia. The nightmare scenario is a full-scale sectarian war between the Sunnis and Shias. Reuters and BBC

Southern Yemen leaders call for secession from North Yemen

The resignation of the government of Yemen’s president Abdu Rabu Mansour Hadi was enough to trigger an announcement by Yemen’s southern separatist movements calling for secession. North and South Yemen were united in 1990, and this is a call to split Yemen in two again.

Police and other security officials in southern Yemen say they are no longer taking orders from Sanaa. Houthi militants have already seized and taken control of almost all state-run media announcements, and during the televised announcement by southern leaders to break with Sanaa, Houthi officials cut off the live televised feed, further angering people in the south. Middle East Eye and APA (Anadolu Agency – Baku)

Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah dies

Saudi Arabia’s 90-year-old king Abdullah bin Abdulaziz died on Thursday. His younger brother, 79-year-old crown prince Salman bin Abdulaziz will succeed Abdullah.

There are concerns that Saudi Arabia is now going to join the unrest that’s been spreading throughout the Mideast in the last four years. However, with Abdullah ailing in recent months, Salman has been taking on most of Abdullah’s responsibilities, and so it’s hoped that things will be calm for the time being. BBC and CNN

KEYS: Generational Dynamics, Yemen, Sanaa, Houthis, Abdu Rabu Mansour Hadi, Abdel-Malek al-Houthi, Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, AQAP, Saudi Arabia, Abdullah bin Abdulaziz, Salman bin Abdulaziz
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