Yemeni president resigns and hands over power to Presidential Council

BEIRUT, Lebanon — Yemen’s exiled president resigned on Thursday and handed power to a presidential council, a sweeping reshuffle backed ...


BEIRUT, Lebanon — Yemen’s exiled president resigned on Thursday and handed power to a presidential council, a sweeping reshuffle backed by his supporters in Saudi Arabia aimed at reinvigorating efforts to end the seven-year war that rocked the Arabian Peninsula.

The president, Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi, announced his abdication a few days after a a two-month ceasefire came into effect, another sign that Saudi Arabia and its Persian Gulf allies may be looking for a way out of years of bloodshed. Hadi has delegated the new presidential council to lead the government and hold peace talks with Iran-backed Houthi rebels who control Yemen’s capital Sana and the northwest of the country.

The move was the most significant effort to reorganize anti-Houthi forces in Yemen since the start of the war. But analysts have raised questions about its effectiveness in advancing the peace process given the divergent positions of the eight council members.

“This is very clearly an attempt, perhaps a last ditch effort, to restore something resembling unity within the anti-Houthi alliance,” said Gregory Johnsen, a former member of the United Nations Panel of Experts for Yemen. wrote on Twitter. “The problem is that it’s unclear how these different individuals, many of whom have diametrically opposed viewpoints, can work together.”

The new push to end the war follows seven years of fierce fighting that has shattered the Yemeni state, spawned one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises and undermined the security of oil-rich Persian Gulf monarchies allied with the United States. United.

The war in Yemen began in 2014 when the Houthis seized Sana and the northwest of the country, sending the government and Mr Hadi into exile. Months later, an Arab military coalition led by Saudi Arabia launched a massive bombing campaign aimed at pushing back the Houthis and restoring the government.

But the conflict has settled into a stalemate and devolved into an increasingly vicious proxy war between Saudi Arabia and its allies and Iran, which has helped the Houthis develop drones and missiles sophisticated that struck deep in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, another member of the gulf. of the coalition. These strikes have damaged oil infrastructure in both countries.

The United States is a major supplier of jets, bombs and other military equipment used by Saudi Arabia and its allies, which have killed scores of civilians in Yemen and destroyed critical infrastructure . The United States is also helping Saudi Arabia defend its border against Houthi attacks and stepped in to help protect the UAE from a Houthi missile attack in January.

Initially, Saudi Arabia told the United States that the coalition could quickly defeat the Houthis. But that hasn’t happened, and Saudi officials have more recently sought ways to end the war, which has tarnished the kingdom’s reputation and taxed its finances.

Mr Hadi’s abdication appears to have been brokered by Saudi Arabia, which since last week has hosted hundreds of Yemenis representing different political groups in its capital, Riyadh, for talks which are expected to end on Thursday.

Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates hailed the transition by pledging $3 billion in aid to the Yemeni government, including $1 billion to bolster the country’s central bank, which has failed to prevent the value of the national currency to fall.

Saudi Crown Prince and de facto ruler Mohammed bin Salman met with members of the new presidential council on Thursday. Footage released by the Saudi Public Information Service showed him shaking hands and exchanging kisses on the cheek.

A senior Houthi official, Mohammed Al-Bukaiti, took to Twitter to criticize the formation of the councilcalling it illegitimate.

The Houthis have refused to participate in the talks in Riyadh, saying any discussion on Yemen’s future should be hosted by a neutral country, not one of the fighters. They accused Yemen’s internationally recognized government and its ministers of spending more time in lavish hotels in the Saudi capital than in Yemen.

“The Yemeni people rejected the government of hotels because they became guests of a hotel in Riyadh, so how can they accept advice born from the hotel itself?” Mr Al-Bukaiti tweeted.

The presidential council faces significant obstacles.

It is headed by Rashad al-Alimi, a former interior minister who advised Mr Hadi and is seen as close to the Saudis.

Its other members include a powerful governor of Yemen’s oil-rich province of Marib; a nephew of The former strongman of Yemen which was allied with the Houthis until they killed his uncle, Ali Abdullah Saleh, in 2017; and the leader of a UAE-backed force seeking independence for southern Yemen.

Mr Johnsen, the former member of the UN panel, likened the advice to “a Frankenstein” and wondered how effective it would be.

“In theory, I can see how this is supposed to work: bringing all the different military units together under one giant umbrella to take on the Houthis,” he tweeted. “But in practice, I don’t think these players will be able to put aside their many differences to unite against a common enemy.”

Another thorny question is whether the Houthis really want peace.

In the past seven years, they have grown from a disjointed provincial rebel movement to a de facto government that controls the capital, finances itself from a vast war economy and regularly launches ballistic missiles at its enemies.

Seven years of war have failed to dislodge the group, and its leaders are unlikely to relinquish any power without significant concessions.

Hwaida Saad contributed reporting from Beirut.



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Newsrust - US Top News: Yemeni president resigns and hands over power to Presidential Council
Yemeni president resigns and hands over power to Presidential Council
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