President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi has warned Yemenis that their country might be heading toward civil war after the Shi’ite Muslim rebels took over the capital. This action has allowed the rebels to command terms to a weakened and fractured government.
“The painful bitterness of fighting among our people and the danger of entering into a civil war,” Hadi said in a speech to political and security chief about the fighting’s in Sanaa.
A war would probably pit the Houthi rebels against an alliance of Sunni Islamist and tribal interests united by a few top families and generals. Houthi rebels claim to represent the Zaydi Shi’ite sect or about 30 percent of Yemen’s 25 million people. The Houthis recently made a deal that will make them a part of the government. However, it is still unclear if that will satisfy their demands, or if it will instead encourage them to seek further power in the country.
Because of the fragmented political, tribal and sectarian scene, any new fightings could also lead to other rebel groups, including southern separatists, former leader Ali Abdullah Saleh and even al Qaeda taking advantage of the unclear situation in Yemen.
An adviser to U.S. President Barack Obama on counterterrorism issues, Lisa Monaco, phoned Hadi to express Obama’s support for his leadership and condemnation of the Houthis.
“She urged all parties to pursue reconciliation and underscored the United States’ determination to designate individuals who threaten Yemen’s peace, stability, and security,” the White House said in a statement
The future of the country depends now very much on the Houthis’ next steps.
“Either they stick to the agreements and operate as a political movement, withdrawing from the city shortly,” said Yemeni analyst Hatem Bamehriz, “or they stay in Sanaa and from there enter into a civil war.”
The Houthis’ ties to the Middle East’s foremost Shi’ite power, Iran, have also prompted comparisons in neighboring Saudi Arabia between the rebel group and Lebanon’s Hezbollah. There is also a risk that Yemen, strategically located on major oil shipping routes and next to top Gulf crude exporters, could become a new front in a region-wide struggle between Shi’ite Iran and Sunni Saudi Arabia. What some additionally fear is that the primary rivalry between Tehran and Riyadh could make Yemen the arena for a new alternative struggle in their region-wide fight for power.
Originally posted by: Zawya