‘Doha Current’ in Yemen seeks escalation to block Riyadh agreement, promote Turkish agenda

Turkish-Qatari project finds suitable environment in the Muslim Brotherhood-dominated governorate of Taiz.

Friday 03/07/2020
A file picture shows Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman Al Saud (R) meeting with Yemeni President Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi, last November. (AFP)
A file picture shows Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman Al Saud (R) meeting with Yemeni President Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi, last November. (AFP)

ADEN - The Qatari-influenced current (known as the “Doha Current”) within the Yemeni government has stepped up its media and political attacks on the Arab coalition, accusing it of imposing a tutelage on the Yemeni decision.

At the same time, there were suspicious troop movements by Islamist militias in the governorates of Taiz and Shabwa with the aim of imposing their control on the two governorates and strengthening the influence of the Turkish-Qatari project in Yemen.

Informed sources told The Arab Weekly that this escalation is related to the efforts made by the Saudi-led Arab coalition to correct the path of the camp of the internationally-recognised government, by seeking institutional reform and working for the establishment of a new government based on the provisions of the Riyadh agreement signed in Riyadh between the government and the Southern Transitional Council (STC) in November 2019.

According to these same sources, the “Doha Current” fears the success of the Riyadh-sponsored consultations between the government and the STC, since that success means imposing a new equation that would end the influence of the anti-coalition current in the Yemeni government and direct the energies of the “new government” towards confronting the Houthi militias.

According to The Arab Weekly sources, the Saudi government has been sponsoring for days now a wide dialogue in the Saudi capital, Riyadh, with the participation of all forces and components in the anti-Houthi camp, including members of the Presidency of the House of Representatives and of the advisory body of Yemeni President Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi, leading STC figures and of representatives of the Arab coalition.

The goal of these talks is to agree on a roadmap for the implementation of the Riyadh Agreement and actually start implementing the political component of it, particularly the top priority of appointing new governors and security directors for the southern governorates, and appointing the president and members of the next government.

In an attempt described by observers as aiming to thwart the coalition’s efforts in this context, Yemeni politicians affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood and the “Qatar Current” have anticipated the nearing of a consensus in Riyadh about the next Yemeni government and accused the Arab coalition of imposing its guardianship on the Yemeni decision and announced the failure of the next government.

Abdulaziz Jabbari, deputy speaker of the Yemeni House of Representatives and a known Doha proxy, wrote on Twitter that “the national interest requires tasking a national figure from the Hadhramaut region with forming a new government.”

“Imposing a personality by a non-Yemeni party means that the legitimacy camp with all its components has become powerless and the Yemeni people must realize this fact,” Jabbari added.

Echoing similar sentiments, Ali Ashal, a member of parliament from the Islamist Islah Party, attacked the next government, describing it as a “big lie.”

Ashal wrote on Twitter that “the Yemenis will only reap disappointments from the government of the ‘quarrelsome partners,’ in the absence of a unified goal and path.” He further added: “We are riding one boat and each one of us is rowing in a different direction; so I don’t think this is going to be a lifeboat but one for perishing and spoiling life.”

In conjunction with the political and media escalation led by the Muslim Brotherhood members inside the “legitimacy” camp, a military drive, supported by Qatar, is on the move in the two governorates of Shabwa and Taiz. According to multiple sources, there were suspicious movements of armed militias known for being financed by the Qatari regime in order to confuse the Yemeni scene and thwart the Arab coalition’s efforts to implement the Riyadh Agreement and address the political and military shortcomings inside the “legitimate” institutions.

In Shabwa, former Transport Minister Saleh al-Jabwani continues to open recruitment and training camps for anti-Arab coalition and pro-Turkey and Qatar militias, according to witness reports by local sources in the city of ‘Ataq, where the first Jabwani camps were opened, and this in parallel with similar activities by Brotherhood militias in Taiz governorate led by Hammoud Saeed al-Mikhlafi.

Well-informed political sources in Taiz confirmed that the Brotherhood had taken a decision to complete its control of the province and to deploy militias in the Hajariya area south of Taiz, where al-Mikhlafi’s militias had attacked ground forces belonging to the 35th armored brigade and assassinated their leader, Brigadier Adnan al-Hammadi on charges of working for the Arab coalition and refusing to extend the Turkish-Qatari project in the province.

The sources indicated that this military deployment in southern Taiz aims to open a breach in the governorates of Lahj and Aden and the western coast and open battle fronts targeting the southern resistance forces and the joint Yemeni resistance forces. In the meantime, the Houthis still control large parts of the city of Taiz, the center of the governorate, in light of an undeclared truce between them and the Muslim Brothers in the region.

The military deployment, which took place without the approval of the governor of Taiz Nabil Shamsan, coincided with demonstrations by the Muslim Brotherhood in Taiz to assail the Arab alliance and raise slogans demanding Turkish intervention in Yemen.

In a statement on Wednesday, Yemeni parties in Taiz governorate warned of the repercussions of the events taking place in the city of Tourba, where the military police chief refused to execute the directives of the governor and head of the security committee to withdraw the military campaign from the city.

The statement, signed by the Nasserite Organization, the Socialist Party and the Ba’ath Party, denounced “these actions that will inflame the situation,” noting that “what is reprehensible is the repeated case of disobeying the directives of the governor of the province, despite the fact that the political parties signed a year ago an agreement that includes respecting the decisions of the local authority and affirms that the governor is the source of the decision for the civil, security and military apparatus.

The statement described “the continuation of the military build-up in the direction of the city of Tourba, in conjunction with systematic media incitement” as “deepening the state of chaos and undermining the factors of trust between the various political and social components of Taiz, and fueling absurd conflicts that will only serve the coup militias.”

Observers caution against continuing to ignore the Qatari influence and, behind it, the Turkish agenda in the liberated areas, which are using pro-Doha elements in the “legitimacy”camp that are working on transforming some liberated provinces into areas hostile to the Arab coalition, by promoting political slogans describing the coalition as an occupation force, while preparing for a Turkish intervention and forming militias that are not loyal to the legitimate government.

They unanimously agreed that the Turkish-Qatari project in Yemen has found a suitable environment in the Muslim Brotherhood-dominated governorate of Taiz, at a time when this project is being resisted by the Yemeni tribes in the Marib Governorate, and slowly progressing in Shabwa. The Muslim Brotherhood is pegging high hopes on Shabwa Governorate due to its geographical location on the Arabian Sea.