Mellanöstern och Nordafrika Tidningen
Published On: Mon, Dec 4th, 2017

Ali Abdullah Salih reported Dead

The former president of Yemen, Ali Abdullah Salih, broke with the Huthi alliance over the weekend in a move said to be engineered by the UAE.  As a result the Saudi coalition announced that it would grant amnesty to anyone fighting against the Huthis. It appears that Salih was attempting to escape Sanaa for Ma’rib, but he was captured and apparently killed. A video now circulating on al-Arabiyya shows his corpse. If indeed this is not Salih, there has yet been no indication that he is still alive.

Photograph released by the Huthis of slain former president Ali Abdullah Salih.

The situation in Sanaa is very tense with ongoing battles between forces allied with Salih battling the Huthis. It is not clear who is winning. Twitter accounts indicate that almost everyone is holed up in their houses, afraid to venture into the streets where tanks are roaming and there are snipers. The city appears to be under a virtual lock-down. Meanwhile the Saudi bombing campaign is pounding Huthi-held areas. There are reports that pro-government forces are poised to make an attack on Sanaa. This appears to be the most critical point yet in the conflict that has waged for almost three years.

As has always been the case in Yemen, the outcome will depend in large part on who the tribes align with. The Huthis managed to take Sanaa through their appeal to many of the northern tribes, but the drastic situation in Yemen makes it easy for alliances to shift dramatically. Some tribes are still in favor of Islah, the Muslim Brotherhood party that has been a target of the Huthis. Others, especially from Salih’s region of origin, will no doubt remain loyal to Salih’s call to turn against the Huthis. Although the outcome is too early to call, the break-up of the Huthi/Salih alliance has seriously weakened Huthi control. A ground invasion at this point, if forces loyal to Salih join with the pro-government forces, may bring about an abrupt end to the Huthi era. It does not seem possible at this late date for any kind of peace agreement to be made, as neither the Huthis nor the Saudi coalition are willing to negotiate.

This a breaking story, so events are moving rapidly.

About the Author

- Anthropologist and historian with 40 years of experience researching and working in Yemen. Varisco is currently the President of the American Institute for Yemeni Studies, Senior Fellow at the Annemarie Schimmel Kolleg of Bonn University, and an expert advisor to MENA Tidningen.