The Political Terms Game in Yemen: Who Is the “Other Party”?


Thu, 29-07-2021 11:43 AM, Aden Time

Farida Ahmed | South24

Yemen witnesses the emergence of dozens of vague and disoriented terms through newscasts, press, and websites, like the recurring term or concept of “the other party”, which particularly relates to the Hadi government. 

Followers of Yemen’s affairs are right to ask about this.  We will clarify and analysis the identity of this “invisible” other party, which uses the Hadi Government as a protective cover, while simultaneously burdening it by committing human rights violations, for which the whole government is blamed by the international reports, with no mention of the “other party” unlike what they do with other crisis parties in Yemen.

A quick look back and a simple review of Yemeni and Arab press performance, reveals its use of the vague “other party” concept, intentionally and sometimes unintentionally. It probably means “members” or “particular group” or “specific party” inside the Yemeni government, without naming them, to avoid embarrassing its editorial policy in the face of direct accusations, or because they lack the courage to reveal the identity of this “invisible other party” for certain considerations.

The persistent questions which have been raised are whether this “other party” is President Hadi himself, or Prime Minister Maeen Abdulmalik? Is it the Vice President Ali Mohsin Al Ahmar or the General People's Congress? The Nasserist Party or the Socialist Party? The Islah Party or all parties? Who is it exactly? To whom accusations should be directed in this government? Who obstructs reaching an end to the war and the peaceful path? Who procrastinates the implementation of the Riyadh Agreement and others, away from the vague idioms such as “parties in the Hadi government, some legitimacy parties, or the forces affiliated with the government” according to media outlets which use this term every time?

Linguistic semantics are important, and it will be dangerous to remain in such a fluid state without decoding or analyzing them, as this makes everybody equal regarding accusations, the political and moral responsibility, and probably the future penalties. Therefore, it is important to know the identity of the actual decision controller in the Hadi government, who makes those measures on behalf of all, and who deals with the clear crisis parties (The Houthis, the STC, the Joint Forces) on behalf of the government and remaining in the shadow, while the other parties are unable to accuse it directly and formally. In the meantime, they can't accuse the whole government of acquiescing to the unnamed "other party".


It is clear that such camouflage in explicitly naming the "other party" is a technical necessity in the press, diplomacy, and the formal discourse, but the Yemeni affairs experts directly understand that this term refers to the Islah Party. The political arm of Muslim Brotherhood in Yemen. In other contexts, it is understood that the term refers to the international Muslim Brotherhood organization. For example, the STC uses the term “the other party” when talking about the implementation of the Riyadh Agreement or the obstacles related to this. Consequently, the STC doesn't accuse the whole government, or President Hadi alone, but refers particularly to the Islah Party. However, the direct accusation of the Islah Party could be met with direct denial also, as the Islah is not the main party that signed the Riyadh Agreement with the STC. However, the accusations continue about its control of the decision-making within the presidency and the government, though using its organizational tools without official capacity.

What Egypt witnessed in July 2011 can be used as a reference, when a vague and anonymous campaign supported the nomination of General Omar Suleiman presidential election 2012. He deputized President Mubarak before the latter stepped down.  The Muslim Brotherhood sent a Guiding Office’s representative to Suleiman, informing him that the group will support his nomination pending on two conditions; the first is that it selects his Vice President. The second is to select his Presidential Office Director. The group gave him 3 months to think about the proposal, but he refused, (1). They later selected their direct nominee.

The Muslim Brotherhood adopts this scheme or tactic to absolutely run a state, and controlling its institutions without the official appearance, while the first man who holds the responsibility is a figure who belongs to the former regime. 

The group tried to impose this scheme in many Arab countries. Although it failed in Egypt due to the reluctance in accepting a figure who belonged to the old regime to play that role, this succeeded in Yemen, as the Islah Party, which is ideologically affiliated with the M.B. was able to implement the empowerment scenario within many state institutions, especially the presidency. The MB figure “Nasr Taha Moustafa” was appointed as the first Director of President Hadi Office, who acted as a shadow guard in favor of the group interests, according to observers. Later, Abdullah Al Alimy, who is close to “Nasr Taha” succeeded him in 2016 until now.  He was the Deputy Director of the Presidential Office. Before that, he was just known as Friday Preacher in Aden’s Squares (2) where the Islah grassroots mobilized in 2011 demanding the downfall of Saleh regime in 2011. His second appearance was as a Director of the Presidential Office.

The 2012’s proposal delivered to Omar Suleiman, from the MB Guiding Office, reveals the MB tactic to control the presidency establishment in any state; it requires two grips, represented in the Director of the President’s Office and The Vice President. This has been accomplished in the Yemeni pattern in 2016, by promoting Abdullah Al Alimi as the Director of the President’s Office and appointing Al Mohsen Al Ahmar as the Vice President.

It was clear that the Islah Party’s control of the Yemeni state institutions, and activating their elements in the embassies ministries, executive and administrational posts, whether directly through MB members, or others, with different belongings, who achieve the Group’s interests, and pushed by it inside those institutions according to observers, allow their positioning and arranging their ranks at the outside and the inside levels. This is the same role played by Nasr Taha Moustafa. This applies also in the case of Salim Bin Talib, the Director of Former PM, Mohammed Salim Basindawa’s Office, who was promoted by the tribal Sheikh and the Islah Party member. Hamid Al Ahmar, from just an officer in his company SabaFon, to be Basindawa’s Office Director.

This case confirms the bases and tactics adopted always by the “Private System” or what is dubbed as the “Secret Organization of the MB”. Yemen was one of the countries which is penetrated by the MB after 2011, through their political and military arm, represented in the Islah Party. One of the reasons behind this is the state’s fragility and the weak performance of President Hadi, which allowed them to access through this gap.

President Hadi’s appearance is limited, as his Office Director is the one who issued the decisions on behalf of him. Except for  those decisions,  which legally and constitutionally require the  President's signature, the President’s  Office Director is the one who orally gives directions to the PM and the government's members, and sometimes, if required, through  official directions signed by him under the preamble of “ In accordance with the directives of His Excellency the President” without attaching his own directions with  a copy of the president directions, according to a source, close to the presidency,  who spoke to South24. On the other hand, other president’s orders have been obstructed by his Office Director who does not allow their implementation, in clear and outright violations that are Punishable by law according to the same source.

The Islah tactics have not been limited to the Presidency establishment and the government controlled by the party, but it further attempted to form a widespread alliance, dubbed as the “National Alliance for Yemeni Political Parties” established in April 2019 (3), through the Yemeni House of Representatives. The idea behind the Alliance, according to South24’s sources, was proposed by the Islah’s Head of the Supreme Board Mohammed Abdullah Al Yadoumi. The MB in Yemen seeks to direct the Yemeni parties and speak on their behalf many times, to justify their positions taken within the government, or to object against any decisions of other parties that are inconsistent with their approach.

For example, “the National Alliance” attacked the STC, through several recent statements, describing the STC’s security and military forces as “militias”. In the memory of the political “Unity” between South and North, the Alliance hinted about the possibility of using power to keep what it considers “the national unity”.

Although the Yemeni Socialist Party no longer appears among the list of parties which sign on the recent “National Alliance” statements, it is notable that most of the Alliance’s statements are being issued directly through the official sites of the Islah Party.

Additionally, some of those daily and direct decisions and appointments regarding sensitive military and executive positions, related to war occur without presidential orders. 

Abdo Farhan Ali Salem was appointed as the Adviser of Commander of the Taiz Military Axis although he wasn’t raised within the army. He is accused of being the “de facto military ruler of Tiaz” and the commander of the MB military wing. Salem is one of the Jihadists who went to Afghanistan to fight along with Al Qaeda in the 1980s, before he returned to Yemen in the beginning of the 1990s. He was appointed as a Director of the Agricultural Office in Sharab District in Taiz.  He used to receive an honorary salary from 1st Armored Division of Yemen, exclusively controlled by Ali Mohsen Al Ahmar who supported those who returned from Afghanistan, and allocate salaries for them through payrolls attached the 1st Armored Division payrolls, without being among the basic military forces, according to a military source who spoke to “South24”. 

Moreover, Commander of the Taiz Military Axis, Khaled Fadel, has succeeded Samir Alhaj in the position without a formal presidential appointment. The same thing applies to Taiz military leader Abdo Hamoud Alsaghir, who was a Math Teacher, and had worked in the ministry of Education before 2015, when the MB appointed him in a big military position as Brigadier. He is considered among the second generation of the MB wing, and there is no difference between him and Salem except that he did not join the jihadists in the Afghanistan War. 

Therefore, there is no military hierarchy for many of the current leaders in high positions in the army, as many of them are being installed without appointment, especially those who are not originally affiliated with the military institution, with the aim of striking opponents and dissidents even within the group itself. This is one of the methods of the MB’s secret organization which was accused when it was established in Egypt last century of liquidating its political opponents. It is the same accusation that the secret organization of the MB in the Yemeni army is currently facing. Some Taiz Military Axis leading figures, affiliated with the MB, are included in the indictment and evidence presented to the court in the case of the assassination of Brigadier Adnan Al Hammadi. This is in addition to accusations against the secret organization of the group in regard to many assassinations’ cases in several governorates.

The Other Party

We should ask first, who benefits most, on the political, military and economic levels in Yemen during the war? If we look at the general situation, we will find that the most beneficiaries are those who actually control the decision making in the presidency and the government, who hold high positions in the state, starting with the President's Office and the Vice President to the youngest employee who belongs to or affiliated with the beneficiaries and influencers in those positions. Regardless of the benefits enjoyed by the opposite party, represented in the Houthis, from such conflict, the biggest focus here is on the “unnamed” other party, in Hadi Government. As long as looking at this “term” in any form, there is an understanding that it refers to the Islah Party.

The problem behind the lack of direct identification of the “Other Party” is because it is not the lone power representative in Yemen, unlike the former President Ali Abdullah Saleh for example. However, the Islah, as one of the parties who share the power in Yemen, managed to absolutely dominate its decision making. This causes technical trouble for the journalistic and political language, as it can’t explicitly accuse the Islah Party, as the decisions are not issued from its partisan bodies, but from the government in which it is just a part of it. The language also can’t accuse the whole government as it is not responsible for the decisions due to the Islah’s dominance on decision making. Therefore, the language chose a technical way out to avoid such trouble though inventing the term “the other party”.

Consequently, it is not surprising to see the exclusion of some political components at the expense of others. It is clear that the de facto controller of the military and political decisions in the Hadi’s Presidency and government is the Islah Party, but it prefers staying in the shadows, including alienating itself from the human rights files. The Islah Party does not appear as a violating party in the most sensitive human files, especially in its areas of absolute control, In Taiz, Marib, parts of Shabwa and Abyan which he runs. The international reports attribute the violations to the Hadi Government, with a clear naming of the other disputing parties, while the Islah remains invisible as usual, although it is locally accused of committing many violations and crimes within its ideas of control against its opponents.

Accordingly, it can be said that decoding the vague political terms is very important, as well as searching for the figures who benefit from the War, politically and militarily.  Their corruption networks and illegal financial resources should be identified and followed to suppress them, and to avoid holding all the parties the responsibility of the corruption and the violations on one party which violates, makes gains, and obstruct the path of peace path and targets its opponents in the name of everyone, while remains invisible, and being dealt by media as anonymous or being an “other party”. It should be said the decoding and rebuilding bases upon clear political and media language, that suits the existent facts, and respects the minds without camouflage or concealment, are important for all political parties which oppose the Houthis, as this frees them from a thorny series which could drag them into needless collective penalties, including the Parity Government of which the STC is a part.

Fellow at the South24 Center, researcher in political affairs

Photo: Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi, and behind him appears "Abdullah Al-Alimi," the president's office manager. (Official)

YemenSouth YemenHouthisYemen PartiesSouthern Transitional CouncilMarib