Distrust within ‘legitimacy camp’ impedes quest for Yemeni solution

Pressure to increase on all actors to accept a vision for a comprehensive solution in Yemen proposed by the UN Envoy Martin Griffiths.
Thursday 01/10/2020
A file picture shows billboard bearing portraits of Yemen’s Saudi-backed President Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi on a main road in the city of Aden. (AP)
A file picture shows billboard bearing portraits of Yemen’s Saudi-backed President Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi on a main road in the city of Aden. (AP)

ADEN – Informed Yemeni political sources told The Arab Weekly that slow progress was being made at the consultations aimed at forming the new Yemeni government, in accordance with the Riyadh Agreement signed between the Yemeni government and the Southern Transitional Council (STC) last November.

The sources indicated that Yemeni Prime Minister-designate Maeen Abdulmalik Saeed could complete the list of ministers in the new cabinet consisting of 24 portfolios divided equally between north and south by mid-October before submitting it to President Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi for a presidential decision to form the government.

However, there are obstacles that are expected to impede the completion of the implementation of the agreement’s agenda, foremost of which is the lack of confidence between the government and the STC regarding military and security issues, which includes the withdrawal of STC forces from the interim capital, Aden, and the withdrawal of government forces from Abyan governorate, which is still witnessing sporadic clashes between the two camps.

The Yemeni presidency is requesting that the military and security part of the Riyadh Agreement be implemented before announcing the new government that will be formed in accordance with applying parity between North and South Yemen, and observing partisan quotas between the components and forces opposing the Houthi militias.

Regarding the latest developments in the implementation of the political part of the Riyadh Agreement, Yemeni journalist Akram al-Fahad confirmed in a statement to The Arab Weekly that the Yemeni political parties and the Arab alliance reached an implicit agreement to set a time limit for the completion of the agenda item related to forming the new government and ending the disputes surrounding it within two weeks in conjunction with completing the first phase of the military and security component of the agreement.

Fahad pointed out that political forces are still reluctant to announce the composition of the new cabinet given the reality on the ground that does not provide a suitable context for the smooth success of the terms of the agreement, in addition to the fact that some forces are apprehensive about working with a new partner who possesses political and military power and influence such as the STC.

He pointed out that parties such as the General People’s Congress and the Salafi Rashad party have already decided to participate in the new cabinet and submitted the names of their representatives, but other parties are still reluctant to present their candidate lists for various reasons. The Nasserist party, for example, is objecting to it being offered only one ministerial portfolio from the quota of the north, which does not suit the Arab-nationalist party’s political and ideological discourse and ambitions.

Fahad explained that the main dilemma to the implementation of the Riyadh Agreement lies in the existence of a clear lack of trust between Yemeni parties, as each demands that its rivals start implementing their own commitments first. Moreover, the interpretations related to the agreement seem to vary widely, which explains the insistence of all the signatory parties to the Riyadh Agreement in their political statements that they have done what is required of them by the agreement and that it is this or that other party that is obstructing the implementation of the agreement.

Fahad believes that the stalemate in the Yemeni government camp coincides with the growing pace of UN and international political efforts to close the file of the Yemeni crisis in light of persistent talks about imminent peace in Yemen. Such conditions place difficult challenges ahead of the legitimacy camp, requiring it to put an end to its internal conflicts and start a new stage where it would meet these challenges as a single and coherent block.

Informed political sources told The Arab Weekly earlier that the international powers involved in the Yemeni file had given the legitimacy camp a deadline in order to better reposition itself in the map of forces on the ground, so that it can extract better advantages in the event that the international community agrees on a formula for peace in Yemen.

According to the sources, the coming period will witness increasing pressure exerted on all actors in Yemen to accept a vision for a comprehensive solution in the country proposed by the UN envoy to Yemen Martin Griffiths. This vision will be passed through the UN Security Council by the completion of the upcoming US presidential elections. The United States still plays a pivotal role in the Yemeni file, as Griffiths’ initiative is based on the vision formulated by former US Secretary of State John Kerry.

In the same context, Yemeni political researcher Saeed Bakran points out that there are many signs indicating that the agreement on the mechanism to accelerate the implementation of the Riyadh Agreement has itself entered a stage of stagnation, or perhaps more precisely a stage of anticipation, due essentially to the desire of “the legitimacy camp”— especially the pro-Qatar wing of this camp — to wait for the outcome of the upcoming US elections.

Bakran believes that “in the next phase and until the end of the US presidential elections, the efforts of this wing in the legitimacy camp will focus mainly on obstructing any progress in implementing the Riyadh Agreement in the hope that the US elections will produce results that support once again Qatar’s and the Muslim Brotherhood’s presence in the region in general and in the Yemeni file in particular.”

Bakran noted in a statement to The Arab Weekly that international interactions on the Yemeni file have become very slow, and that the international community is no longer confident in the ability of the legitimacy camp to move forward, in addition to the fact that the pro-Qatar current in the Yemeni government is no longer able to step back and make concessions that will help the international community to move effectively against the Yemeni legitimacy camp.

Bakran added that the Yemeni “legitimacy camp” has become “one of the important cards for Doha in its conflict with Riyadh, Abu Dhabi and Cairo.”