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Another Middle Eastern Nest has emerged in the Middle East

Another Middle Eastern Nest has emerged in the Middle East

07.12.2017
Tags: Yemen, Middle East, Terrorism, Militants, Khusit, Politics, Analytics, War in the Middle East, Saudi Arabia

After the cleansing of Syria and Iraq from terrorist groups, the surviving Islamic militants are likely to be transferred to Yemen. The hope that the civil war going on there will be stopped, collapsed after the assassination of former President Saleh. But why a poor country, where there is almost no oil, became a terrorist freeman?

"Moscow is seriously concerned about the development of events, the risk of Yemen's rolling into military-political chaos, accompanied by an unprecedented humanitarian catastrophe, is great," Russian MFA spokesperson Maria Zakharova said on Wednesday.

One of the reasons for the escalation of violence in Yemen was the assassination of former President Ali Abdullah Saleh by Husit rebels - supporters of the Shiite grouping Ansar Allah. According to media reports, on Wednesday he was buried in his native village without any honors and formal ceremony, in fact, secretly. On the same day, the Husits ​​opened fire on the women's demonstration, which took place in the capital of the country, Sana'a, in protest against the murder of Saleh.

"Dance on the heads of snakes"

That's how Ali Abdullah Saleh called his 33 years at the head of Yemen. All this time he managed to push numerous tribal groups, parties and oligarchic clans, manipulate the interests of regions and confessions, but ultimately unite the country. Even after retiring in 2011 after the "Arab Spring", he remained the most influential politician in Yemen.

In 2014, Saleh supported the attack on Sana by his former enemies - the Husits ​​- and for two years resisted the intervention of the Saudi coalition along with them. And last Monday he was killed by recent allies on the outskirts of the capital.

Recently, Saleh was looking for an opportunity to regulate relations with the Persian Gulf countries, offered to "turn this page". A few days before his death, he managed to announce the dissolution of the alliance with the Shiite grouping Ansar Allah and in fact urged the people of Yemen to revolt against the Husites, who, he said, "harmed Yemen three years to take revenge on those who carried out the September Revolution and united country ".

The September Revolution of 1962 deprived the last Yemenite king of the dynasty of Shiite Imam Zaidit who ruled Northern Yemen for more than a thousand years. Zeidism is one of the Shiite currents, which externally differs little from the usual Sunni Islam: the Zeidites do not recognize the exotic Shiite teachings about the "hidden Imam", permitted hypocrisy - "takaya". But what they are principled is in the political bases of Shiite Islam.

The head of state - the imam - in the Zeidites is recognized the descendant of Ali, son-in-law of the Prophet Muhammad. That is, ideally the goal of their armed struggle is the re-creation of a theocratic state. True, the sheikhs of the tribes often forget about this goal and are included in the political game of Republican Yemen, form coalitions with the Saudis and Socialists. Then there are more principled guys - hussites, move the sheiks of the tribes and continue the struggle for the Yemeni Imamate.

In the twentieth century, in the wake of pan-Arabism and socialism, royal dynasties were overthrown in several countries of the region and secular regimes were established. The Kingdom of Yemen was among them, being in the zone of influence of the strongest then Arab country - Egypt, led by President Nasser. Yemen even joined the confederal state with socialist Egypt and Syria, but after deteriorating relations in the alliance, King Ahmed bin Yahya was overthrown by conspirators with the direct participation of the Egyptians.

In the civil war that broke out after this, the government of the Yemen Arab Republic held exclusively on the bayonets of the Egyptian army, which was opposed by the son of King Mohammed al-Badr, supported by Arab monarchies. Under his leadership, the militia of the northern tribes-all the same Zeidites who now constitute the Husit army-emerged. The tribes clearly outnumbered the government in military terms, and it would have ended with the restoration of the monarchy, had it not been for the intervention of the Soviet Union, which threatened to intervene if the counter-revolution wins. Heir to the throne ceased fighting and went to London, where he died in 1990-ies.

During the reign of Ali Abdullah Saleh, a certain stability was achieved. He even was able to annex the socialist South Yemen to the republic. True, this did not save the poorest Arab country from the war and the subsequent humanitarian catastrophe.

Without a chance to compromise

The civil war in Yemen continues with small breaks for 55 years. The country is divided according to the ethno-confessional principle, the southern and northern provinces have different history and social structure. Numerous tribes and parties are short-lived coalitions for various tactical purposes.

Sunnis - most of the country's population - live in coastal areas of Yemen. They are guided by Arab monarchies, and during the years of the war radical Islamists began to grow in their midst, including Al Qaeda.

In large cities and on the southern coast, the population has slightly more secular and liberal views. South Yemen is the former English colony of Aden. Until 1990, it was a separate state, the People's Democratic Republic of Yemen, and used the fraternal assistance of the Soviet Union to the maximum. But after the unification, the south, more developed economically and possessing oil reserves, lost political influence and now, at every opportunity, tries to secede.

The most powerful force in Yemen is the Zeidite tribes, especially the grouping Ansar Allah, which was created in 1994, and is called by the name of their al-Khusi leaders al-Khusi. Hussein al-Husi declared himself an imam in 2004, and after his death, his younger brother Abdul-Malik became their military and spiritual leader.

Zeydites make up about 40% of the population and are concentrated in mountainous areas. They also live in the adjacent areas of Saudi Arabia - Asira, Najran and Jizzan, torn away from historical Yemen. The Zeidets are the historical base of the Yemeni statehood, as well as the driving force of the current protests and revolutions. By the way, the secular president Salekh and his opponent, the founder of the Islamist party Islakh, Sheikh al-Ahmar, are also from the Zeidite Hashid tribe. The tribes have extremely high mobilization opportunities and religious motivation.

In foreign policy, the Husites are oriented toward Shiite Iran and consider the United States and Israel, as well as their partners in the region led by Saudi Arabia, to be principled enemies. Given the strategic position of Yemen, as well as the territorial claims of the Zaidis, al-Husi's activity aroused a sharp reaction from the Saudis and intervention. Yemen became the next field of war for the Sunni monarchies and Shiite Iran.

The Khusites declared war in 2004, took an active part in the protests of 2011 against President Saleh, and after his departure they continued the struggle already with the new president-pro-Saudi Abd Rabbo Mansur Hadi now in alliance with Saleh. That is, every Yemeni politician assumes to use Shiite militia for political interests, but then he encounters that their interests are not at all in political representation, commerce or something down to earth. And in the absolute power of their leader. On this any unions lose their meaning.

Now one of the snake heads reached Saleh. Before his death, the former president tried to resolve the international conflict. Established contacts with Riyadh and Moscow, promised to attract investment in a devastated country. Probably, he saw himself or his son as a compromise figure - a national leader with extensive international ties, equidistant from extremist groups, hailing from the Zeidite clan, but secular views. This was certainly not in keeping with the plans of his recent Shiite allies. Between the two factions, fighting erupted, and as a result, the politician was accused of betrayal and killed.

Now a compromise is hardly possible. Most likely, with the end of the operation against IGIL * in Syria and Iraq, the remaining forces of Islamists will be transferred to Yemen, and the Shiite group is facing dangerous isolation.

Most of Ali Abdullah Saleh's supporters are now moving to the side of the pro-Saud coalition. Perhaps, instead of weak Mansur Hadi, her son will be the son of Salekh Ahmed.

* Organization, in respect of which the court accepted an inured decision on liquidation or prohibition of the activity on the grounds provided the Federal Law "On Countering Extremist Activity"

Igor Dimitriev
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