Yemeni president travels to Abu Dhabi on a damage control bid

Sunday 05/03/2017
Suspicions. Yemeni President Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi.

London - Yemeni President Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi has attempted to assure the leadership of the United Arab Emirates of his com­mitment to thwarting hostile forces in the country, Gulf sources told the London-based Al Arab newspaper.
Unidentified sources referenced in the newspaper said Hadi’s Feb­ruary 27th visit came after reports that elements of Yemen’s govern­ment and members of the Yemeni branches of the Muslim Brother­hood and al-Qaeda had been work­ing to undermine UAE efforts to stabilise southern parts of Yemen, which they had taken control of from Iranian-backed Houthi rebels.
Members of the Brotherhood-affiliated Al-Islah Party in Yemen, allied with al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), are suspected of seeking to take control of areas that had been liberated by UAE armed forces and the Yemeni Army loyal to Hadi.
Nasser Abd Rabbo, Hadi’s son, who is an official based in southern Yemen, is accused of handing over parts of the Abyan province to Al- Islah, further destabilising Aden and Mukalla. This has heightened concerns that elements hostile to the Arab-led coalition battling the Houthis could gain entrance into Aden, the temporary capital of the internationally recognised govern­ment.
Websites affiliated with the Mus­lim Brotherhood have been leaking information details of a rift between Hadi and the UAE. The sources raised questions about Abu Dhabi’s role in the affair. Abu Dhabi has been supportive of the legitimate government in Yemen.
The sources said Nasser Abd Rab­bo had mobilised 10,000 fighters whose loyalties were in question to go up against the Arab coalition.
Emirati political sources quoted by Al Arab said Hadi was questioned about his government’s intent dur­ing his visit. They said he was spe­cifically asked whether he favours the withdrawal of the Arab coalition from Yemen, which could allow Tehran-affiliated militias or al-Qae­da to take over, potentially prolong­ing the crisis by giving legitimacy to radical groups seeking to capitalise on corruption in the country.
The sources added that Hadi’s actions gave no indication that he intended to help the Saudi-led coa­lition achieve its declared objective of liberating the country from the rebels and forces loyal to former president Ali Abdullah Saleh. The sources said Hadi has been accused of being more interested in prolong­ing the crisis in Yemen, even at the expense of jeopardising the coun­try’s stability.

Upon arriving in Abu Dhabi, Hadi was greeted by the head of UAE’s intelligence service, Major-General Ali Mohammed Hammad al-Sham­si. Instead of being surrounded by his usual group of ministers and of­ficials, the Yemeni president was accompanied only by one aide. Af­ter the meetings in Abu Dhabi, Hadi flew to Riyadh, where he was to meet with officials to discuss recon­struction efforts, local reports said.
Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated news websites described the state of affairs as a “major embarrass­ment” to many leaders in Yemen’s government.
The websites carried a statement from Muhammad al-Yadumi, chair­man of the Supreme Committee of Al-Islah, saying: “Those of you suffering from short-sightedness should remember that coalition countries, particularly Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, have poured blood on our soil and not water.”
Sources within Al-Islah say Ya­dumi’s statement, published on the party’s Facebook page, ignored connections between the Muslim Brotherhood and radical Islamic el­ements in Yemen.