A meeting of a number of PLC members in Aden (Saba)

The PLC: Delayed Decisions and Idle Solutions


Sat, 23-07-2022 01:02 PM, Aden

Farida Ahmed (South24)

Over the past 100 days, since the Presidential Leadership Council (PLC) took over, it was expected to begin a new and qualitative path to complete the restoration of the state and to overcome the economic challenges as well as improving the government’s performance. This is especially related to the move by most political and administrative officials from Riyadh to the capital city of Aden to begin doing their tasks and activating the state institutions from there including members of the House of Representatives. However, days following taking the oath by the PLC members proved that this stage is not much different from the previous one. Quickly, some political figures including members in the House of Representatives and the Shura Council left the country to stay abroad.

Additionally, other PLC members left Aden one month after the declaration of it this includes Tariq Saleh, Othman Majali, Sultan Al-Arada and Faraj Al-Bahsani. The last two figures also serve as governors of Hadramout and Marib, respectively, amid expectations that the PLC could appoint new governors. The absence of the PLC from Aden is another proof of the sharp political paralysis and the continuous failure. It is obviously something that obstructs any progress in treating the status quo.

It is important to say that the war, raging in Yemen since 2014, enhanced a culture of submissiveness within the Yemeni politicians by accepting the minimum solutions proposed by their allies although they were able to pose pressure and find more realistic ones to end the catastrophic situation experienced by the state over 8 years. It was possible to benefit from the truce which is about to complete its fourth month. This can be achieved through full arrangement of the military and security situation. Additionally, preparations have to be taken for military resolution by making decisive military changes to manage the war or by arranging the situation of the legitimate authority. This includes selecting the team which participates in the peace operation. However, those two steps have not been done yet. Nevertheless, the PLC established a joint security and military committee according to article 5 of the power transfer declaration [1]

The committee consists of 59 members, led by Major General Haitham Qassem Taher. However, the features of the committee's work are still unclear. Will it issue decisions or recommendations for the PLC? Will the latter reach consensus to take military decisions based upon the committee's recommendations? This stirs important questions about who will lead the military operation if the allies resolve to the military solution. Will it be a joint operation room run by the PLC? Or being an operation room affiliated with the Arab Coalition? This could make a difference regarding the coordination and the organization. 

Why are so many decisions delayed?

There is no doubt that the previous Hadi authority left a heavy legacy for the PLC including a set of fundamental crises, especially the humanitarian and the economic ones. This creates urgent questions to the PLC of "will it begin the solutions and how will it save the country amid numerous affiliations and the different opinions among its members?". The controversy increases among the anti-Houthi political parties when reports about possible appointments are leaked. For example, the unilateral decisions taken by the PLC Chairman Rashad Al-Alimi raised wide controversy by appointing Adnan Al-Salawi as the head of the press department, and Mohammed Al-Moqbili as the head of the youth department. The first figure has ties with the Houthis and lives in Sanaa while the second one is close to the Muslim Brotherhood and stays in Turkey. This added to the volume of controversy, especially by Southern activists who believe that these appointments could undermine the work of the new PLC. These figures are always seen by the Southerners as rivals.

From the fundamental aspect, it seems that the lack of a strategic vision for the PLC's activities creates a consensus crisis regarding some decisions. Such a contrast especially appears in simple administrative decisions and it is likely to extend to unresolved political and military decisions. This could be seen from the perspective of the constitutional declaration after transferring power and the list of prerogatives related to each party. The points of strength of Al-Alimi emerge in 8 exclusive prerogatives apart from the third one which is related to the consensus among the PLC's members in appointing the governors, security chiefs, the High Court judges and the Central Bank governor after consulting with the PM [2].

The discussions within the PLC should be clearer regarding the role and the position of each member as well as the prerogatives and the tasks inside and outside it. This aims at preventing exploiting any future variations regarding issuing decisions or solutions of the country’s conditions.

Moreover, the draft legal regulation which organizes the PLC's work presented by the legal team established after power transfer caused a storm of controversy among the political elites. This is especially related to the 16th article which stipulates that “it is not permissible for the PLC’s chairman and members to gather between work in the PLC and any executive, civil or military work, etc.” It is known that the Southern leaders in the PLC, Al-Zubaidi and Al-Bahsani, are the ones who hold such positions. Moreover, the draft ignores the post -2015 facts according to Southern experts. The real problem is not that the head and the members of the legal council are from North Yemen but because their ideological background and agenda are affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood [3]. This may requires more extensive discussions about the draft by the PLC and the legal team to reach consensus regarding the conditions and the nature of the next stage.

Yemen in Biden's visit

The Jeddah Summit for Security and Development, held on July 16th, showed success in presenting and settling many of the region's files and its thorny issues. The summit was led by Saudi Arabia in the presence of US President Joe Biden and the head of Gulf states, Egypt, Jordan and Iraq. Regardless of the main topics which were discussed in the summit including strengthening Washington's ties with the Middle East, counter-terrorism and securing the international waterways, Iran's nuclear program occupied a big space due to the Iranian threat against the region's countries from regional and strategic concepts. Although Tehran has its tools in more than one Arab state including Yemen, the latter was absent from the summit's agenda.

In this regard, Al-Alimi faced sharp criticism after he went to Jeddah without receiving an official invitation to meet Biden like other Arab leaders. Some believe that Al-Alimi put himself in an embarrassing and humiliating situation when he waited for an opportunity to meet the American guest. They just sent the US Secretary of State, Anthony Blinken to meet him. Al-Alimi stressed the PLC commitment to the path towards a fair and sustainable peace. He called for an active American role to pressure the Houthis. On the other hand, the American side just welcomed power transfer in Yemen. The US confirmed its support for the PLC Chairman and members as well as the extension of the truce along with counter-terrorism efforts [4].

Yemeni activists argue that the continuous shadow presence of the Yemeni official leaders denotes that the former and the current political regimes are doomed to be affiliated with the neighboring countries and what they decide regarding the Yemeni file. This was confirmed by Yemeni Foreign Minister, Ahmed Awad Bin Mubarak, in an interview with Al-Sharq Al-Awsat newspaper two days before the summit when he said: "We are sure that our brothers in Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states will carry the Yemeni file and put it always among the summit's priorities" [5]. Some deemed this statement as a humiliation for Yemen by delegating others to carry and discuss its file away from its relevant and direct politicians.

Despite the Biden administration's interest in the Yemeni file and its attempts to end the war by reducing weapon support to the KSA as well as appointing a special US Envoy to Yemen at the beginning of last year, Yemen was not listed among the latest summit's priorities. It seems that its main goal was to convince Riyadh of increasing oil supplies due to the energy crisis caused by the Russian-Ukrainian war. Moreover, it aimed at settling the Israeli-Palestinian issue and posing pressure regarding nuclear file. Meanwhile, the other files came as additional extensions to the summit's agenda. However, the truce, though fragile, is expected to be prolonged in order to gather the conflict's parties on one table during the incoming months. This was confirmed by the Committee of Five meeting in Riyadh on Tuesday including KSA, UAE, Oman, US and the UK.

Ultimately, the PLC's members will have to resolve many urgent and decisive decisions to settle economic, military and political conditions. Discussions about the powers and the prerogatives of each PLC member in the frame of the presidency and outside it will allow clarifying and correcting many vague matters. This will reduce the state of political deadlock and may help in speeding up the PLC's mechanism as well as resolving a number of the pending files. This paves the way to a new phase, whether towards peace through establishing negotiating delegations or towards a military resolution by making immediate military changes and coordinating a joint military action among the parties. 

Either way, the PLC members should be fully prepared for the current scene and its future prospects. The dominant belief among the street is that the PLC came to achieve peace and not to engage in a new war, especially that its main backer, Saudi Arabia, stressed on such approach and opened the door for a broader dialogue with Iran and the Houthis to avoid the war costs according to Reuters.

Farida Ahmed 

South24 Center for News and Studies Executive Director


1- The PLC ratifies the establishment of the Security Committee (sabanew.net)

2- A presidential declaration issued including power transfer and the establishment of the PLC (sabanew.net)

3- Why Do Southerners Refuse the PLC Regulation Draft? (south24.net)

4- PLC Chairman discusses the Yemeni updates and counterterrorism with the US Secretary of State (sabanew.net)

5- Bin Mubarak: Biden's visit is an opportunity to reach consensus about the Yemeni crisis (aawsat.com)

PLCSouth YemenJeddah SummitRashad Al-AlimiAidrous Al-ZubaidiUSSaudiArabiaHouthis