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Yemen: the Political Landscape.

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The International Crisis Group is an independent, non-profit, non-governmental organisation committed to preventing and resolving deadly conflict.

Yemen at War. 27/03/2015






On 21 February, President Hadi escaped house arrest and fled to Aden, where he issued a statement reasserting his authority as president and accusing the Huthis of a coup.

He is cobbling together an anti-huthi alliance: including parts of the Southern Movement (a group demanding greater southern autonomy or independence), popular committees from his home Abyan governate (also in the south), and tribesmen and other political leaders (mostly from the south and historically Shafai/Sunni areas of the north).

Yemen is thus split between the Huthi-controlled north and Hadi’s anti-Huthi coalition based in Aden. But the Huthi-versus-Hadi divide is only one part of a complex conflict map.

The Huthis have cooperated with Saleh against Hadi and other adversaries, but Saleh and the Huthis have a fraught history, having fought six wars against each other. Neither trusts the other; their recent cooperation notwithstanding, they are competing for political dominance, especially in the northern tribal highlands and the military.

The anti-Huthi bloc is also internally divided. It includes staunch unity advocates, especially in the north, as well as the Southern Movement, which is overwhelmingly committed to southern secession. Hadi’s support within this group is tenuous at best.

Southern separatists resent his pro-unity stance, while some pro-unity advocates suspect him of harbouring a hidden separatist agenda. After his unsuccessful three years in office, most groups view him as weak and ineffective. His support is a function of what he stands against, not for.

Also part of the fray are al-Qaeda and a nascent IS movement. Both jihadi groups are dedicated not only to killing Huthis, whom they view as Shiite infidels, but also to attacking the state and seizing territory.