The responsibility of Yemen’s President Hadi
By: Abdulrahman al-Rashed
Yemeni President Abd Rabbuh Mansour Hadi accused Iran more than once of acting behind the turmoil in Yemen. He blamed Iran for the Houthi rebel’s recent seizure of the city of Omran, the gateway to the capital Sanaa. I have no doubts that Iran is active in Yemen, funding and arming rebels, but this does not justify the failure of the Yemeni leadership or the defeat of the army or leaving the country slide to the verge of collapse.
The situation in Yemen requires a leader, not just a president of compromise. President Hadi is fighting on several fronts, but he has to be honest with himself. If he cannot face the serious challenges, he has to step down. His leadership has failed to achieve the reconciliation that was the only reason for its existence, and because of this failure, rebel bastions have multiplied across the country. President Hadi is besieged by angry tribes, Houthis, al-Qaeda, al-Islah, southern separatists, and remnants of the former regime. No country in the world has such many enemies; they are all seeking to demolish the new Yemeni state. They feel the inability of the current leadership and they see a state hovering on the brink.
Hadi is not authoritarian like Saleh but, with time, he is losing his friends because of his political, military and personal failures.
President Hadi cannot blame Iran for all what is happening in Yemen. Rather, he should blame his political team which has failed to unite rivals and take advantage of the U.N. envoy’s efforts to minimize disputes. He did not provide realistic solutions or succeed in narrowing the conflicts. His failure to convince his allies and enemies is not the only problem; his administration and reputation have been heavily criticized. He is being increasingly criticized for allowing his sons to interfere in the state affairs.
Not another Ali Abdullah Saleh
On of Hadi’s critics said: “We wanted to get rid of [former President] Ali Abdullah Saleh, not to face another Saleh,” one Yemeni voice says. Hadi is accepted in the north and south of the country. He was the result of a compromise and named to succeed an authoritarian president who ran the country with cunning, alliances and force for 33 years. Hadi is not authoritarian like Saleh but, with time, he is losing his friends because of his political, military and personal failures. Yemenis will never accept his sons playing a role in politics. If the people were to choose between the former and current presidents’ sons, they would choose Ahmad, the elder son of isolated president Ali Abdullah Saleh. Ahmad was known as a respectable man who played a positive role during the transitional phase. But at that time, people did not want anyone from Saleh’s entourage.
Regardless of these details, dangers are growing now more than ever in Yemen. The country has never witnessed such threat of disintegration and conflicts as it is witnessing today, not even during the Imamate war in the 60s, the wars in the 80s and 90s, or the revolution against Saleh’s regime two years ago. Regional and international powers, along with the Yemeni leadership, should aim to avoid the collapse of Yemen, especially as two years ago, they were all looking forward to establishing a progressive and stable state.
Abdulrahman al-Rashed is the General Manager of Al Arabiya News Channel. A veteran and internationally acclaimed journalist, he is a former editor-in-chief of the London-based leading Arab daily Asharq al-Awsat, where he still regularly writes a political column. He has also served as the editor of Asharq al-Awsat’s sister publication, al-Majalla. Throughout his career, Rashed has interviewed several world leaders, with his articles garnering worldwide recognition, and he has successfully led Al Arabiya to the highly regarded, thriving and influential position it is in today.