All roads lead to Saleh (Al-Ahram Weekly (Egypt))

Houthi militiamen guard an entrance of the Republican Palace in Sanaa
Western and Gulf embassies closed in Yemen after the Houthi movement that has seized power by force announced itself the new ruler of Yemen, north and south, according to a constitutional declaration refused by all.The first embassy to close was the American, which is expected to be the first also to return. The US needs to talk to Yemen’s new rulers, for the sake of its own interests. Most embassies said they closed temporarily for security reasons.
UK Ambassador to Yemen Jane Marriott said Monday in a lengthy article the UK embassy in Yemen would reopen as soon as a legitimate government is formed.
So, the temporary closure of embassies was a natural step as their states rearrange to coordinate with a new would-begovernment about their dealings and interests.
The step, however, was seen by some as a move to isolate the country from the world. And because talks are still ongoing between all groups under UN envoy sponsorship, the step should be a kind of pressure on the dominating Houthi group, though no more than that. The embassies were hurting and not helping the conflicting groups, because of their conflicting interests. They failed to help solve the national crisis.
For the Gulf embassies, which also closed, the crisis in Yemen remains a problem whether they close or not. Saudi Arabia, in particular, which leads the other five Gulf countries, would surely be harmed by chaos in Yemen. The wars and violence of the 25 million-strong, largely poor Yemeni populace would be on Saudi borders. Saudi Arabia would not be safe.
The declared position of the Gulf countries was to refuse the Houthi “overthrow”. In a statement by their foreign ministers, who met earlier this week in the Saudi capital Riyadh, they asked the UN Security Council to take a military action against the Houthi, who are seen by them as under the influence of their enemy Iran. Indeed, Gulf ministers threatened to take “further steps” to protect their interests in Yemen.
“Further steps” might be interpreted as paying the costs of any military action, unlikely at present because it would play into the hands of Al-Qaeda, the enemy of both the West and the Gulf.
The UN Security Council, a day later, called in a statement on all Yemeni groups to return to negotiations and dialogue, without mentioning the words “coup”, “overthrow” or “rebels” to describe the Houthi, unlike the Gulf countries.
Previous Security Council resolutions sanction Yemen’s “spoilers” hurt and never helped the Yemeni transitional political process. It was never clear who are the spoilers.
Now the situation in Sanaa is that the Houthi are running the country, north and south, via what is called the Revolutionary Supreme Committee made up of 15 members from across the county.
The committee was formed according to the unilateral constitutional declaration announced on 6 February. Mohamed Al-Houthi is the head of this committee. A relative of the top leader of the Houthi group, he is seen as the acting president of the republic.
Resigned president Abdu Rabu Mansour Hadi is in his home in Sanaa suffering ill health. He is expected to leave Yemen soon for treatment in the United States. Houthi fighters are safeguarding Hadi’s house and they are also safeguarding the home of resigned prime minister Khaled Bahah.
Talks are still ongoing between the Houthi and other groups in the presence of UN envoy Jamal Binomar. All are looking for a compromise solution, a new president and a new government.
The constitutional declaration of the Houthi dissolved the current parliament and called for forming a presidential council of seven members and a national council of 551 members, in place of the dissolved parliament.
The problem is ex-president Ali Abdullah Saleh’s party, which considers the dissolution of parliament the dissolution of their party — one that has the overwhelming majority in that parliament.
The Houthi would not be able to go it alone without Saleh’s party, even if all other groups allied with him — including the Sunni Islamist Islah Party — agreed to go along with the Houthi.
Saleh and his party are still deep-rooted in the army and the most influential tribes of the country. The Houthi would not have reached this juncture without the help of Saleh’s loyalists in the army and large tribes like Hashed and Bakil.
Saleh’s party told the Houthi and other groups that the party would stick to the legitimacy of the present parliament. So a new deadlock is on the cards. And for the time being, all roads lead to Saleh and his party.