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Qatar Encroaches on Saudi Influence In Yemen

As elsewhere in the Middle East post-Arab Spring, Qatar and Saudi Arabia are vying for influence in an unstable and economically weak Yemen.
Supporters of Egypt's deposed Islamist President Mohamed Mursi pray during a rally in protest against the recent violence in Egypt, in Sanaa August 16, 2013. Protests by Mursi supporters turned violent across Egypt on Friday, with witnesses reporting four dead in central Cairo and at least 12 killed in northern cities as the Muslim Brotherhood staged a "Day of Rage". REUTERS/Khaled Abdullah (YEMEN - Tags: POLITICS CIVIL UNREST RELIGION) - RTX12NKO
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Yemeni President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi’s visit to Doha at the end of July, right before heading to Washington, indicated that for the first time ever Saudi Arabia was no longer the most powerful player on the field, or at least ceased to be the only player that had significant influence on the Yemeni scene, as had been the case since the 1960s.

Qatar is currently playing an important political role in Yemen, extending the one that it played during the 1994 war between former President Ali Abdullah Saleh and then-Vice President Ali Salim al-Beidh — who were both partners in the same Yemeni national unity government — and their respective allies. That role was resurrected during the Yemeni government’s war against the Houthis, who constituted a suitable avenue for Qatar’s return to the Yemeni arena. During 2007 and 2008, Qatar was the prominent influence broker in the most important of Yemeni issues, whereby it succeeded in convincing the Houthis to endorse its role. Qatar’s initiative to end the war between the state and the Houthis in 2008 led to the latter’s re-emergence, and to the former president later describing the accord reached as the “Dokha (dizziness) Accord” instead of the Doha Accord, to symbolize his, and the majority of Yemeni factions, including the government’s, rejection of Qatari involvement — which made of the Houthis a faction equal in importance to the state.

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