The Yemeni Presidential Council Raises Controversy


Sat, 09-04-2022 02:31 PM, Aden

Aden (South24)

Since Thursday dawn, the North and South Yemeni streets have been hustled with a decision to establish a Presidential Council to replace President Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi.

The Council will be led by former Interior Minister and Hadi's Adviser Rashad Al-Alimi and with memberships of figures who belong to the STC including the STC President Aidrous Al-Zubaidi. It also includes Commander of the Southern Giants Forces Abdulrahman Al-Muharrami, the Islah-loyal Yemeni President Office Director Abdullah Al-Alimi, and Hadramout Governor Faraj Al-Bahsani. As for North, the appointments include Tariq Saleh, Commander of the Resistance Forces, Othman Megali, and Sultan Al-Arada.

The local street received these decisions with variable reactions between supporters and opponents while some deem it as a big a significant move following big divisions that could have destroyed the anti-Houthi forces.

Writer and Political Analyst Dr. Mohammed Jumaih tweeted: "This Council and the new leadership serve as a balance and a representative of the active forces on the ground. The Council is proof that the solution in Yemen is an Arabian one and that internationalizing the crises led to complicating it more."

Journalist Majed Al-Daeri claims that what happened is a "comprehensive constitutional coup" that paves the way for incoming overwhelming chaos that could hit everyone. He claimed that "deposing Hadi was a Houthi precondition on the KSA during the Muscat Negotiations to accept peace, and stop their attacks".

For her part, activist Wamid Shaker believes that "constitutionally, the position of the President is still existing. Hadi is still the President of the Yemeni Republic unless elections are held or he is being sacked by the House of Representatives". She indicated that “ There is still an opportunity to reverse the decision under the constitution and its power as happened when Hadi got back off his resignation."

The Minister of Information advisor Fahd Al-Sharafi described those decisions as being an "important settlement" adding that the Riyadh Consultations produced an outcome which was unexpected by many people who kept mocking this big event.

Southern activist Ahmed Al-Saleh described the outcomes of the Yemeni-Yemeni Consultations as  “historical and well-timed”.

The Houthis mocked the declaration describing it as "a play".

In a TV interview, senior Houthi official Mohammed Al-Bakhiti accused the Chairman of the “Presidential Council” of being the “USA’s man in Yemen”.

The decision to establish a Presidential Council has been widely welcomed at regional and international levels. US Secretary of State, EU, France, and Japan welcomed the move. Moreover, Egypt, Jordan, Bahrain, Kuwait, the KSA, and the UAE praised the newly-formed Council. The Arab League, GCC, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, and the Arab Parliament hailed the step.

The international community is looking forward that this decision could strengthen the truce and lead to a comprehensive political settlement, especially since the Presidential Council is supposed to make negotiations with the Houthis to reach an all-out peace according to the articles of the declaration.

In a Twitter poll by "South24", over 65% of participants expressed their support of the new President Council while 14.7% renounced it.

Southern controversy

In South, the reservations raised by some people about the Presidential Council stem from the previous similar Southern experiences before and after 1990 which mostly failed and led to new wars.

Journalist Al-Daeri and Southern activists criticized the appointment of the STC President as being part of the new Council. They fear that the new position could impact his wide popularity in South Yemen.

In contrast, STC official Ahmed Bin Fareed said: "The political work is passing through several difficult stations and a lot of challenges. Therefore, we have big and limitless trust in this man [Aidrous Al-Zubaidi] and our continuous support to him is doubtless".

Southerners believe that by accepting this move, the STC puts its legs in an unsafe environment unless there are real guarantees from the GCC.

Writer and political activist Huda Al-Attas described the Presidential Council as one which only governs the "South" while North is governed by the Houthis. This means that Northern forces still control South and North.

As for the Southern people issue, Al-Attas said: "The path of negotiations with the Houthis and adding them to the negotiation table will give North two thirds and one third for South".  She claimed that the operation is "just a recycling of the same tools, the same crises, and the same conflict".

On the other hand, a well-informed source told "South24" that the STC's participation in the Presidential Council is a temporary process that enables it to contribute to making sovereign decisions in the final solution negotiations which would ultimately lead it to impose its political agenda in the final solution negotiations.

The source believes that the STC participation in the Presidential Council, the government, and the state institutions come in conjunction with an advanced Southern position at both military and security levels contrary to the results of the National Dialogue Conference" held in Sanaa in 2014.

The final statement of the Yemeni-Yemeni Consultations included “approving to enlist the Southern issue in the ending war negotiations agenda to put a special negotiation framework in the comprehensive peace process".

The STC welcomed the Riyadh Consultations results and its final statement contents. 

On the other hand, the STC in a brief statement by its spokesman Ali Al-Kathiri Thursday evening ended doubts about its position regarding restoring the Southern State. 

The statement said that the “STC renews its firm stance in adhering to its Southern national project till reaching an all-out peace process through which our people can attain all its goals and national aspirations in light of what was included in the Riyadh Consultations statement".

Dismissing Al-Ahmar

The decision to establish the Presidential Council came in conjunction with deposing Yemeni Vice President, Ali Mohsen Al-Ahmar, the controversial figure who has close ties with Islamists in Yemen. Al-Ahmar is accused of being involved in launching former wars against the Southerners such as the 1994 War. The STC accuses the man of standing behind the latest wars in 2019 and 2020 against its forces in Abyan and Shabwa. They also accuse him of engaging with extremist organizations.

Political analyst, Dr. Hussein Laqwer said that "dismissing Ali Mohsen is a positive step after he proved his failure over 6 years in which he has enhanced his relationship with the Muslim Brotherhood [The Islah Party].

Sky News journalist Salah Bin Laghbar said: "This power structure shake does not fulfill our aspirations to attain our goal of restoring the Southern state, but of course, it removes the most prominent obstacle and the prominent figure against achieving it and largely weakens the anti-Southern forces which took the lead over past years".

Bin Laghbar added: "the most significant here is sacking the most important figure and forces that acted as an obstacle against the Southerners' path to restore their state".

For his part, Ahmed Al-Saleh said: "Sacking Ali Mohsen is the half solution while the other half depends on alternatives".

Journalists, close to the Yemeni Vice President, criticized the decision to establish the Presidential Council. He launched a bitter criticism against the KSA and the UAE.

The Director of Turkish-based Balqees TV channel Ahmed Al-Zarqa believes that "the UAE, backed by the KSA, gradually got rid of figures who oppose it. Hadi remained a President through silence and disposing of his men, but ultimately he himself was removed".

Writer Mohammad Al-Shaibani said that the new Presidential Council is "no more than an empty dummies loyal to Abu Dhabi and Riyadh more than the national project".

The dismissed Yemeni Vice President, Ali Mohsen Al-Ahmar welcomed "the Presidential declaration of shifting power as well as establishing the Presidential Council and its accompanied bodies and teams to complete the interim stage". Al-Ahmar said: "God witnesses that I was only biased to people and the Republic during all stages".

Commenting on Al-Ahmar's statement, the former member of the UN Security Yemen Panel of Expert, Gregory Johnsen, said: "One of the big problems Yemen had when Saleh was forced to step down is that he stayed in the country and acted as a spoiler.". He added: "Ali Muhsin doesn't have the network Saleh did, but he does have supporters". He curiously asked about the man's next move.

It is worth mentioning that the decision to establish the Presidential Council came as a result of the Yemeni-Yemeni Consultations sponsored by the GCC in Riyadh.

A large number of military and political Yemeni leaders participated in these 10 days Consultations as well as several journalists, NGO organizations in addition to women and young representatives.

South24 Center for News and Studies
Photo: The GCC Secretary-General along with the Chairman and members of the newly-formed Presidential Council

STCPresidential CouncilYemeni ConsultationsRiyadh