Houthi rebels have occupied Yemen’s capital Sanaa for months. They put President Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi under house arrest in January 2015, but he escaped to Yemen’s second largest city, Aden, writes Prince Michael of Liechtenstein. Now the president has named Aden as the country’s temporary capital.
GIS, when analysing the Yemen situation in October 2014, forecast in a statement that southern Yemen, the former British Protectorate of Aden could break away.
The Houthi rebels are from a Shia-dominated ethnic group living in the north of Yemen, and are supposed to be politically close to Iran. Yemen’s 24 million population is about 40 per cent Shia and 60 per cent Sunni, especially in the south.
President Hadi fought al-Qaeda in Yemen and was therefore supported by the US, but it seems the Americans have opened informal relations with the Houthi rebels who also oppose al-Qaeda.
President Hadi, who now lives in Aden, said on March 21, 2015, that Aden should be Yemen’s temporary capital. The US has announced that the few US diplomatic staff remaining in Yemen will leave along with the rest of its Yemen-based special forces.
President Hadi’s declaration of Aden as a temporary capital could be seen as a strong, formal step towards a partition of Yemen.
GIS has warned that a Houthi controlled Shia state on Saudi Arabia’s border could create huge problems and instability in this geo-strategically important region.
Partition, even with frozen conflict, could still be better than an institutionalised civil war, exacerbated by terrorist activities in a supposedly unified country.