Yemen's President is Tough on Al-Qaeda, but Weak on Politics

Yemeni President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi has not had an easy time since the departure of former President Saleh, writes Adnan al-Rajhi. Given his few prior political or military achievements before taking office, the successful campaign he has waged against al-Qaeda is commendable. His next challlenge: to form a political consensus.

al-monitor Yemeni President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi looks on during a funeral service for Major General Salem Ali Qatan, the commander of military forces in the south of Yemen, in Sanaa June 19, 2012. Photo by REUTERS/Mohamed Al-Sayaghi.

Topics covered

joint meeting parties, ansar al-sharia, ali abdullah saleh, al-qaeda, abed rabbo mansour hadi

Jun 19, 2012

Yemeni President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi is seen as both a weak politician and an inexperienced military chief by supporters and opponents alike. Yemenis have long held this image: Hadi cannot boast of any political achievements, save for during the 1994 summer war in which he was a staunch supporter and close ally of former Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh, the winner of that war.

Analysts argue that Hadi took the reigns of power in unfavorable circumstances after decades of power struggle. However, he has made remarkable strides in Yemen’s remote regions, mainly with the war he has waged against al-Qaeda. However, he has failed to achieve anything in near regions like Sanaa, which are often witness to civil disobedience.

Hadi also managed to dismiss several military leaders — relatives of the former Yemeni president, Ali Abdullah Saleh — including some of Saleh’s staunchest supporters who backed him for three decades. It is worth noting that these dismissals, whether pushed for by Hadi alone or in tandem with other internal powers, always had the support of the international community, which was keen to enforce these decisions.

After publicly announcing the beginning of a “real” war against al-Qaeda in Yemen, Hadi has managed, with or without foreign military support, to defeat Ansar al-Sharia, an offshoot of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP). Hadi’s triumph might, observers believe, unveil the former regime’s other hidden cards — particularly the fact that Saleh used the threat of al-Qaeda to compel the international community into giving his regime cash.

During this difficult transition phase, Hadi has achieved a remarkable victory. The war on al-Qaeda was indeed “real,” just as the Yemeni president had promised. The Yemeni army managed to eradicate al-Qaeda strongholds in Yemen — clear proof of its growing capability to defeat al-Qaeda in Yemen, even though Yemen is still listed among the top “terrorist exporting” countries.

In order to appeal to both the supporters and opponents of the revolution, Hadi may be compelled to review the resolution he issued through which General Ali Mohsen al-Ahmar and Brigadier General Ahmed Ali Abdullah Saleh (Ali Abdullah Saleh’s son) would be removed from office. By doing so, he may overcome a hurdle that has thus far stood in his way during his time as president. The road may be fraught with challenges, but he must stand firm in his attempts to exercise control over each and all areas of the country, whether politically, economically or geographically.

Hadi’s biggest challenge today will be to reach a consensus between his party and the Joint Meeting Parties. Should Hadi — who was appointed president as per the Gulf Initiative signed by all Yemeni political parties — fail to do so, he may be forced to step down.

What steps Hadi will take remains to be seen, as well as his decisions concerning Ali Mohsen Saleh and Ahmed Ali Abdullah Saleh.

Continue reading this article by registering at no cost and get unlimited access to:
  • Al-Monitor Archives
  • The Week in Review
  • Exclusive Events
  • Invitation-only Briefings

More from  Adnan al-Rajhi