The developments over the past weeks have been characterized by political fragmentation and growing isolationism and a shift in alliances. The war has entered into a simmering status quo with selective battles at the borders of the Houthi areas, while the situation around Hodaydah remains in suspense. Saudi Arabia, as Mohamed bin Salman, the deputy crown prince disclosed in a recent interview, is not in a hurry and plays for time. While no longer dispensing the horrendous cost involved in an air war, harbours and airports remain blocked with a view to systematically starving out the approx. 17 million inhabitants in the Houthi areas.
The humanitarian situation:
End of April a donor conference had been arranged by UNOCHA and the governments of Sweden and Switzerland in Geneva. Although the result fell short of the 2.1 billion USD calculated, various donor countries contributed as much as 1.2 billion.
19 million Yemenis of the total population of 26 million need humanitarian aid and protection. UNOCHA and several international aid organizations keep warning that in the absence of concrete aid famine will strike the majority of the population, above all children representing 40 % and in danger of suffering severe development disorders because of malnutrition. UN-Secretary General Guterres voiced in drastic terms that every 10 minutes a Yemeni child under the age of five dies of hunger and that the famine in Yemen is the most severe supply catastrophe worldwide. Quite striking is the fact that Saudi Arabia agreed to give 150 million USD. The cost for the air war against Yemen so far amounted to approx. 200 million USD daily.
Hadramaut´s solo action
On April 26th, Mukalla celebrated the “one-year liberation of Mukalla from alQaida” (a typical Yemeni charade since a Qaida left peacefully upon agreement on April 26th the year before) and a conference was arranged in this context under the title “Jumaa Hadramaut” (Joint Hadramaut). At this conference a Hadramy code of honour was concluded and a declaration of 40 punctuations for the preparation of an autonomously administered Hadramaut proclaimed.
A group under the leadership of Ahmed ben Brik, the governor of Hadramaut intend to urge president Hadi to agree to negotiations with the Houthi and achieve an end of the war and a return to normalisation. Should this not meet with success the group will proclaim an autonomous political area Hadramaut under the leadership of Ahmed Ben Brik and assume control over the militia, the infrastructure, the economy and the administration. Hadi has so far not reacted. The proponents are, according to their respective declaration, not opposed to the occupying states Saudi Arabia and the Emirates and invite Mahra und Schabwa to participate.
Trouble spot Aden
Simultaneously with the events in Hadramaut the situation in Aden escalated. President Hadi all of a sudden dismissed Aidrus Zubeidi, the governor of Aden and several ministers by decree, among them Hani ben Brik, the state minister (not related to Ahmed ben Brik). He accused the latter of prosecutable actions and instigated investigations on the part of the prosecution. Both Zubeidi and ben Brik are popular heroes of the resistance against the Houthis, enjoying respect and admiration. Aidrus Zubeidi´s dismissal was followed by a “Declaration of Aden”, in which he suggested a similar line of actions as postulated by the Hadramis for Hadramaut. Zubeidis´ und ben Briks´ sacking led to massive protest actions of the population, with the Emirates fuelling the animosity against Hadi and stimulating the secession adherents. Hadi blamed the Emirates to show off as occupants and to sabotage the unity of Yemen. Emirati newspapers severely critisize Hadi, challenging his legitimacy. This brought about a pro-Hadi and a pro-Zubeidi demonstration, where the Emirates tried to support the pro-Zubeidi demonstration in their media and their infrastructure. However, only very few participated in the demonstrations, with those for Zubeidi having to be transported in cart loads from alDhale. The Adani obviously do not allow themselves to be misused for such power demonstrations.
The new situation also leads to a shift in the relationship between Saudi Arabia and the Emirates. Saudi Arabia is given a stronger negotiating position. Both occupants appear to aim at a session/segmentation of Yemen.
A further comment was received by the Islah-Party, known to be under extreme pressure in the present constellation. In their declaration Islah support Hadi – their only mentor -, the unity of Yemen and Hadi´s decision to nominate Abdelaziz alMuflehi as new Governor of Aden. In the night after the publication of the declaration the headquarters of the Islah party in Aden were torched.
The new governor arrived in Aden on May 6th, welcomed by representatives of Hadi´s government. AlMuflehi is a politician and a business man, coming – as Zubeidi – from the secessionist province of alDhale. He had studied in Egypt and had been engaged in business for a long time in Saudi Arabia before joining Hadi´s set of advisers. At his arrival in Aden he declared he does not intend to engage in politics but would endeavour to improve the living conditions of the Adani.