September 21st: The Collapse of the Yemeni Republic


Tue, 21-09-2021 08:10 PM, Aden

Ayad Qassem | South24

The 1994’s summer War, launched by the Ali Abdullah Saleh’s regime and its allies( the Muslim Brotherhood and  the Arab Afghans) against South Yemen, demolished the legal legitimacy of the determinants of the new state, “the Yemeni Republic”, with its two states (South Yemen and North Yemen), but the control imposed by the Iran-backed religious group “the Houthis” over the capital city of Sanaa on  September 21st 2014 actually eliminated its  political and objective legitimacy after the dramatic downfall of the capital, and enhanced the prior geographical division between the two states.

7 years ago, in a matter of hours, the Houthis took control over the military and civil facilities as well as the brigades of the country, including, the 6th Division Command, the 1st Armored Division, the 4th Presidential Guards Brigade Command, the Supreme Command of the Armed Forces, the Central Bank, the Parliament, the Civil Aviation and Meteorology Authority and the headquarters of the Ministry of Defense, “amid great identification between the group and the authorities of state agencies”, according to BBC in that year. (1)

The collapse of the Yemeni Army’s resistance in such a semi-dramatic way, as described by some, was remarkable. The Houthis also was able to control the Iman University, sponsored by Sheikh Abdulmajeed Alzindani, one of the prominent founders of the Muslim Brotherhood in Yemen. (2) 

Later, the Muslim Brotherhood (the Islah Party) and Saleh’s supporters blamed each other about who is responsible for the Houthi control over the capital Sanaa. Despite the late Yemeni President, Ali Abdullah Saleh, preferred later to ally with the Houthis to face the Saudi-led Intervention, and enabled their access to military institutions affiliated with his son Ahmed, before they turned against him, the M.B made a peace deal with the Houthis in Sa’dah, that led to the famous meeting between the  General Secretary of the Islah Party, Abdulwahab Alansy, and the Houthi Leader, Abdulmalik Alhouthi in November 2014 to “turn the page of the past”(3), The Islah and its affiliated tribes, such as “Hashid” from which  the Abdullah Bin Hussein Alahmar’s sons hail, has refrained from fighting the Houthi crowds that stormed Sanaa, in spite of their tribal military  arsenal, and the control by Ali Mohsen Alahmar over the Brigades of the 1st Armored Division, and their extended political, tribal and military influence inside the country’s corridors. (4)

According to some independent parties, both of them are complicit in handing over Sanaa to the Houthis in such a peaceful way, as they aimed at allowing the Houthis of invading South Yemen to face the escalating Southern Movement(Hirak) there, but those attempts failed in spite of the magnitude of casualties and the big destruction caused by the war in the southern cities, especially Aden which turned to be a strategic starting point for the military resistance, backed by the Saudi-led Arab Coalition, and with an active Emirati Forces participation that saved at that time the remnants of the regime of President Hadi who fled later to Riyadh.

Despite the fact that the  political and military administration which handed over Sanaa to the Houthis is the same one that later ran the supposed war in North Yemen against the Houthis with Saudi support, 7 years later, it proved to  adopt the same 2014 scenario again, with a significant difference shown in the big attrition in the Saudi-led Coalition, exploiting the war to ignite more conflicts in South Yemen, a new intervention of regional and international parties, the increase in the terrorist groups’ activities and strengthening the Houthi influence on the military and geographic levels to the extent that they threaten lands and facilities inside the KSA  and the Red Sea’s security.

The war led to the worst humanitarian crisis in the world, according to the UN, as 18000 civilians were killed, millions have been displaced, the economy and services broke down and a large segment of the population stands on the brink of starvation.

The Houthis tended to change the religious, educational, media, and political discourse within the communities under their control. The Shiite slogans have widely been seen in Sanaa. The cruel violations against women and dissidents increased, and repression, detention and torture of journalists and activists spread, amounting to executions dubbed by the UN deemed as “unlawful” and the described by the U.S as “brutal.” (5)

The religious group has the control over historical geography of North Yemen, amid the Coalition's flagrant failure to reduce the Houthi influence and the lack of strategic vision that deal with the events according to their success and failure accumulations, as the war relied upon the traditional management of figures, sides, and parties which are close relationships with Riyadh as the M.B, some Northern tribal leaders and the Vice President Ali Mohsen Alahmar. The Coalition states have not made actual success at the military field level. However, there have been achievements by the STC-affiliated Southern Forces, backed by the UAE.

The nature of the Yemeni management of the crisis has dyed its failure on the Saudi Administration supervising the Yemeni file, especially the Special Saudi Committee, and led the KSA to shocking corners and side turns that ignited the lust of the Iran-backed group, and strengthened it while pushing to weaken or fight the parties which scored real victories against the Houthis.

In contrast, 7 years after the downfall of North Yemen in the Houthi Hands, the group has mobilized its power inside the oil-rich governorate, Shabwa, as observers warn of a similar Sanaa scenario in Shabwa.

ON Tuesday Morning, September 21st, local sources told “South24” that the governmental forces, affiliated with the islamic Islah Party withdrew from several areas in North of the governorate. The Houthis made advances in Ein District, and got closer to a crossroad that leads to the city of Bayhan. This comes as the formal authority in the governorate is busy in fighting the Shabwani Belhareth Tribes which refuse oil smuggling and selling activities inside their territories in favour of influential figures according to tribal sources.

The Houthis likely attempt to control the oil fields, located in North of the governorate, and to surround Marib, from the southern direction, as the Houthi militants have fighted since February 2021 to bring it down. Marib is the last bastion in North Yemen, for the internationally recognized government.

Currently, there are growing fears about the unprecedented silence from the KSA and the Coalition towards these developments, amid the increase of military and political challenges in front of the STC which controls large parts in South Yemen although it declared state of emergency and public mobilization on September 15th to face “the danger of the Houthi militias” especially that the STC IS adherent to restoring South as an independent state.

On the other hand, the UN and the international efforts failed, during the last years, to reach a cease-fire in Yemen or make all-out settlements for the crisis. The challenges rise with the appointment of the new UN Envoy Hans Grundberg, and his first visit to Riyadh and Muscat, especially as he expressed his readiness for the involvement of new parties in the settlement, led by the UN. he stressed on the importance of the participation of the “Southern voices” to reach sustainable peace.

So far, there is no end to the war in sight, and things get worse with the erosion of the internationally recognized Hadi regime, and Riyadh's preoccupation with the challenges caused by the Houthi missile attacks, the Washington’s withdrawal of its defense systems from the Saudi territories, and competition with its ally, the UAE.

Ayad Qassem
Chairman of South24 Center for News & Studies

- Photo: AFP

Yemen CrisisHouthisNorth YemenSouth YemenShabwaMuslim Botherhood