What’s Driving Yemen’s Hadi to Push for UAE Pullout?
The rift between the resigned government of President Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi, that now has no effect in Yemen but a name, and the UAE, which is part of the Saudi-led Arab coalition for the so-called support for Hadi to return to power, is now deep and overt to an extent that on Tuesday the resigned government released an official statement saying that it will soon officially demand for UAE withdrawal from the Arab alliance leading a war against the pro-independence revolutionary forces since 2015.
According to Russia’s RT news, three senior officials at the cabinet have made the statement. Interior Minister Ahmad al-Maisari, Transport Minister Saleh al-Jabwani, and the advisor Abdulaziz al-Jabari said that the UAE derailed from the aims Saudi Arabia set for the war and now supports a coup against “legitimacy”, a term they use to define Hadi’s cabinet in the southern city. They added that the UAE backs the separatism in the country.
Over the past few weeks, the UAE-backed southern separatists and Hadi loyalists clashed in the provinces of Shabwa, Aden, and Abyan in the south of the country. Saudi Arabia, seeking to end the crisis and unite the front of the opponents of Yemen’s Ansarullah movement that is holding much of the north including the capital Sana’a, held negotiations between two sides of the crisis in the south in Jeddah. The deep disputes, however, indicate that no tangible result was reached from the de-escalation efforts by Riyadh.
What is behind the demand to remove Abu Dhabi from the Arab alliance? And what repercussions will it have for war developments in Yemen? Three different scenarios are possible regarding Ansarullah and its opponents:
Saudi pressure on the UAE
There is no doubt that the UAE’s announcement about its intention to pull out of the war, which means leaving Saudi Arabia alone in a tough war with Ansarullah due to a fear of missile and drone strikes on the Emirati oil terminals and economic centers meant nothing for Riyadh but treason and an end to the unity between the two countries. Naturally, as Ansarullah focuses on the fight on the Saudi borders and even interior, Saudi Arabia situation will be even shakier in the war. The recent days put to show the weakness of the Arab kingdom.
As a result, Saudi Arabia very likely will head to pressuring the UAE and its loyal militias, mainly the secessionists in the south, to push them to return to the agreements and back Hadi and recognize him anew. According to media reports, the Southern Transitional Council (STC), the leading separatist party in the south, called for key posts in Hadi government and end of Hadi cooperation with Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated Islah Party as preconditions for an agreement. Hadi gave a considerable number of his cabinet’s posts to the Islah Party, making it an ally in the confrontation with the revolutionary forces in a war started by Saudi Arabia in March 2015.
In fact, the main threat for the UAE in Yemen is that after an official request for Abu Dhabi to exit from the Arab alliance and Saudi support for it, the Emirati leaders lose the legal legitimacy to pursue their goals in Yemen and will be recognized as occupiers by Hadi cabinet. If the fugitive government decides to raise the case with the United Nations Security Council, it will have consequences for the UAE on the international arena.
Hadi struggles to stay in the equations
Some analysts suggest that because Saudi Arabia and its Western allies are disappointed with Ansarullah defeat and reinstallation of Hadi to power in Yemen, distribution of duties between Riyadh and Abu Dhabi in the war-ravaged country is likely, something they think can help them not to move out of Yemen war empty-handed. This pushes some analysts to believe that the STC forces’ attack on Aden came with Saudi coordination. Naturally, the main victim here is Hadi cabinet. Odds are that Hadi, fearing full marginalization in the future Yemeni developments, tries to push the Saudis to remove the Emiratis from the game.
If Saudi Arabia rejects the demand, its claims of support to legitimacy and rule of law, which serve as the main pretexts for starting the devastating war, will be questioned. In case of Hadi’s failure with his bid, Yemen, the region, and the world public will perceive that Hadi and his circle have only been puppets in the Saudi hands to devastate Yemen and loot its natural and energy resources.
Getting UAE off the game
As it was said, a gap between Hadi and the Saudis is not unlikely. But if Riyadh decides to eject the Emiratis from Yemen equations, a new scenario should be raised which is so compatible with the Yemeni realities: The UAE set its eyes on strategic southern islands of Yemen in Bab-el-Mandeb and also major ports like Aden since the beginning of the war and worked towards split of Yemen. While Saudi Arabia remains empty-handed after over four years of war, the UAE looks to have achieved a large part of its goals. In such conditions, practical removal of Abu Dhabi from the war— while the latter is no longer of avail to the Saudi plans in the war against Ansarullah in the north— can mean self-authorization to strike the separatists and reinstall Hadi in Aden, an arrangement helping the Saudis make the Emirati achievements, particularly the control over the strategic Bab-el-Mandeb, their own by restoring the lost areas to the government of Hadi.