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article imageOp-Ed: UK, UAE, and U.S. diplomats in talks with ex-president of Yemen

By Ken Hanly     Jul 24, 2015 in Politics
Aden - Representatives of Al Abdullah Saleh, the former president of Yemen are talking with diplomats from the United States, Britain, and the United Arab Emirates in negotiations that may help end the war in Yemen, according to a member of Saleh's party.
Saleh himself along with his son are sanctioned by the UN so he will not personally be at the talks. Saleh and his son are still powerful in Yemen with many of the Yemeni armed forces loyal to Saleh. Saleh has allied his group with the Houthi rebels. Without his support the Houthis would likely not have advanced nearly as far as they have especially in the south of the country. Perhaps, Saleh is contemplating changing his allegiance again in order to have more power within any new government. While he was president, Saleh often fought with the Houthis whose stronghold is in the north of Yemen. The Houthis are Shia while the majority of Yemenis are Sunni Muslims.
The exiled president Mansour Hadi, was vice-president under Saleh and took power in a deal brokered by the Gulf Cooperation Council(GCC) with the support of the US. Saleh and his cronies were shielded from prosecution for any crimes committed during the Arab Spring demonstrations in which many protesters were killed by Saleh's security forces. Later, Hadi was elected president but was the sole candidate. Saleh has continued to influence Yemeni politics and when the Houthi's occupied the capital, Saleh provided support with troops loyal to him. He has continued that support since the Houthis took power after failing to negotiate a new government acceptable to them. Hadi escaped from Sanaa to Aden where he tried to set up a government but was forced out of the city to exile in Ryadh Saudi Arabia. Recently some ministers have returned to Aden. The airport is now open again.
Adel Shuja, a leader of Saleh's Congress party said: "There are negotiations in Cairo between the leaders of the Congress party and diplomats from the United States, Britain and the UAE in order to find a peaceful solution to the crisis in Yemen...These negotiations have made significant progress so far."
These negotiations are taking place just as local forces, loyal to the exiled government, have made gains in the south taking over the port city of Aden and reopening the airport at Aden. The loss of the port happened within just a few days suggesting that perhaps Saleh had ordered his forces to withdraw.
Saleh was able to rule Yemen for 33 years by playing off rival armed and tribal groups against one another. He may be at it again, even though before he relinquished power he was almost killed in an attack on the presidential palace and sought medical treatment in Saudi Arabia and the US. The Houthis will be unable to hold territory in the south without help from Saleh. However, they also had been in talks earlier in Oman with members of the Southern Movement who are active in the fight against them in Aden. Oman has been key to mediation between the warring groups. There may be a concerted effort on the part of both rebel groups to reach a political solution as they realize continued military actions are devastating the country without much hope of final military success for either side. There will probably be increased pressure to give the south more autonomy. The separatist Southern Movement that has been a key force opposed to the Houthis often clashed with the former Hadi government. They now have significant numbers of armed fighters who will demand some political power in any new government.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
More about President Ali Abdullah Saleh, Yemen conflict, Aden
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