The truce in Yemen has held firm and has been extended despite accusations of violations by all sides. The warring parties have met every month since April of this year, and they met in early August to extend the truce in Yemen for two more months. According to the Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project in partnership with the Yemen Data Project, the air and drone strikes have fallen by 78% compared to the airstrikes conducted two months before the truce. The Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project recorded an average of forty Saudi airstrikes on Yemen per week and four Houthi drone missile attacks on Saudi Arabia per week before the truce in April of this year.
“The most salient change in political violence patterns induced by the truce is the drastic decrease in air and drone strike events. Over the first two months of the truce, air and drone strike events decreased by 78% compared to the two months prior and by 61% compared to the same period last year.” – (ACELD)
The Presidential Leadership Council was formed for Yemen after 3-hours of closed-door meetings at the Royal Palace in Saudi Arabia led to Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi relinquishing power to the eight-member Presidential Leadership Council. The PLC immediately moved to negotiate peace talks with the Houthis, who together brought the people of Yemen their most peaceful month since the war began in 2014. The International Community has congratulated the PLC for brokering the peace deal in Yemen, but why did it take so long for Hadi to step down? Why did the international community spend eight years propping up a weak and incompetent leader while 377,000 Yemenis lost their lives? The PLC has considerably more power in Yemen than Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi ever had during his presidency in Yemen. The reason the PLC has so much power in Yemen is because of the eight people that make up the council.
The chairman of the Presidential Leadership Council is Rashad al-Alimi, who has lived in Saudi Arabia since 2015 and is a former advisor to Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi. The majority of people in Yemen see Rashad al-Alimi as a Saudi loyalist and U.S puppet, accusing him of assisting the GCC in the war.
Tareq Saleh is another influential member of the PLC because he is the nephew of former president Ali Abdullah Saleh. Tareq Saleh fought alongside the Houthis in the Houthi-Saleh alliance when the war in Yemen first started in 2014. In 2017, former president Ali Abdullah Saleh was assassinated by a Houthi sniper, and it was believed that Tareq Saleh was assassinated as well until he resurfaced in the oil-rich Hadi stronghold of Shabwa in 2018. Tareq Saleh is an elite military commander leading the National Resistance Forces. The National Resistance in Yemen consists of 10,000 former members of the Central Security Agency and the Republican Guard of Yemen. The National Resistance is heavily supported by the United Arab Emirates and has proven to be a powerful fighting force in the war.
Sultan Ali al-Arada is another prominent member of the Presidential Leadership Council because he is considered one of the most influential tribal and military leaders in Yemen and is the Governor of the oil-rich province of Marib. Sultan Ali al-Arada proved his importance to Saudi Arabia and the international community by defending Marib from attacks by the Houthis and Al-Qaeda. Sultan Ali al-Arada is a member of the Al-Islah party, a Safalistic ideological group created in Saudi Arabia in 1990. The Al-Islah party is affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood. Bahrain, Russia, Syria, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, and Saudi Arabia have the Muslim Brotherhood listed as a terrorist organization. In 2018 the Middle East Monitor reported that the United Arab Emirates was paying a mercenary group called Spear Operations Group 1.5 million dollars a month to carry out assassinations in Yemen of 26 Al-Islah Imams and political figures over two years. Spear Operations Group is owned and operated by former Israeli intelligence officer Abraham Golan, who openly admitted to Buzzfeed news that his group carried out these assassinations in Yemen of Al-Islah party Imams and political figures.
Faraj Salmin Al-Buhsani being appointed to the PLC confirms a pattern of the council being made up of influential figures from the oil and gas-producing provinces of Yemen. Faraj Salmin Al-Buhsani was Governor of Hadhramaut from 2017 to July of this year, and Hadhramaut holds 80% of Yemen’s oil reserves. Faraj Salmin Al-Buhsani played a pivotal role in forcing Al-Qaeda out of Hadhramaut. When tensions in Yemen reached a boiling point in 2015, Total Energies shut down its oil and gas facilities and left Yemen. The abandonment of these facilities opened the door for AQAP to take control of the Balhalf facility, where they began selling oil on the black market. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration Yemen has proven oil reserves of 3 billion barrels and 17 trillion cubic feet of natural gas reserves. Yemen has enough oil and gas reserves to fulfill its domestic need instead of importing oil from Saudi Arabia and exporting oil and gas for profit
In March of this year, the U.S. Special Envoy for Yemen Tim Lenderking and Chargé d’Affaires of the U.S. Embassy to Yemen Cathy Westley visited Yemen. The State Department’s official media briefing about Westley and Lenderking’s visit states that Westley and Lenderking met with the Governors of Hadhramaut, Mahra, and Shabwa. The State Department’s media briefing gives the impression that Westley and Lenderking met with the people of Yemen and saw the suffering of the Yemeni people, but they did not. They only met with the Governors of oil and gas producing provinces and officials from the French energy company Total Energies.
“They held a meeting with Shabwa Governor Awad Al-Wazir Al-Awlaki at the Balhaf facility in the presence of Emirati officers, under the title of exporting Yemeni gas to Europe, which faces the threat of Russian gas interruption in light of Ukrainian crisis.”
There are also reports in Yemen that the GCC Coalition is robbing oil wells in Shabwa and Hadhramaut and that Governor Awad Al-Wazir Al-Awlaki is loyal to the Coalition, specifically the United Arab Emirates. According to the Iranian outlet MEHR News, 130,041,500 barrels of oil have been looted from Yemen, which is over 10 billion dollars worth of oil, taken from Yemen from July 2018 to July 2022.
Abdul-Malik al-Houthi is the leader of a Shiite Zaidi Islam movement, and 78% of Yemen is Sunni. When the Houthis (Ansar Allah) took over Sanaa, the people of Yemen protested the Houthi movement and demanded an end to the violence. Iran warned the Houthis not to take over Sanaa and called for a diplomatic solution to the situation. As the war in Yemen raged on, the people of Yemen became frustrated by the constant bombardment and slaughtering of civilians by the Saudi Coalition Forces that targeted civilians in 78% of their airstrikes. The more bombs that fell on Yemen, the more the people of Yemen became frustrated by the international community’s involvement in the bombardment and blockade of Yemen—and because of this, the Houthi’s popularity skyrocketed.
The GCC will not allow elections because the GCC fears the people of Yemen will vote Abdul-Malik al-Houthi into office. Abdul-Malik al-Houthi is the leader of the Zaidi revolution movement, known to the western world as the Houthi Movement. In 2021 Mike Pompeo added Abdul-Malik al-Houthi to the Specially Designated Global Terrorists list twelve days before he left office 2021, only to be revoked a month later by Antony Blinkin. Abdul-Malik al-Houthi is not a terrorist. Abdul-Malik al-Houthi is a religious leader and political figure who refuses to be controlled by the western world or the GCC. Saudi Arabia, the United States, and the United Arab Emirates are fomenting enemies in Yemen, not bringing an end to the conflict in Yemen. The people of Yemen see pictures of Emirati and Saudi warships intercepting ships destined for Yemeni ports, valuable goods destined for a country where 24 million people out of a population of 30 million are starving— it makes them angry. Would it make you angry?
It is against international law to bomb a country that you are blockading because it has a detrimental impact on the civilian population. Saudi Arabia alleges they are not violating international law because the Houthis are a threat to their national security. Why has the United Nations allowed the blockade of Yemen to continue when the United Nations Security Council is well aware that Yemen is under siege and being bombed? The Houthis started launching missiles into Saudi Arabia after they invaded Yemen with 150,000 troops and 100 warplanes to attack a country that doesn’t have any air defenses or surface-to-air missiles.
Despite hundreds of thousands being killed by direct violence in Yemen and over 24 million in dire need of humanitarian assistance, the international community chose to keep Hadi in power and prolong the suffering of the Yemeni people. For years they delayed the inevitable in Yemen and told the world they were combating an Iranian proxy in Yemen. On the other hand, Saudi and Emirate proxies in Yemen were propped up militarily and given international support, further prolonging the war. The formation of the PLC and the UN-monitored peace talks happened just days after Hadi resigned from power, begging the question could peace have been brought to Yemen sooner? In February of 2021, the United States announced they were ending their support for Saudi Arabia’s war in Yemen, leaving Saudi Arabia to pay for the war by themselves. Saudi Arabia went from indiscriminately bombing Yemen with an average of forty airstrikes per week because of an endless supply of weapons to just selectively hitting targets in Taiz and Sanna, reducing Saudi airstrikes by 78% since the truce began.
By Joziah Thayer
Twitter: @ Dapeaple