Khairallah Khairallah is a Lebanese writer.

  • Everyone in Yemen is in a state of denial, On: Sun, 13 Aug 2017

  • Can Qatar pay the price of escalation?, On: Sun, 16 Jul 2017

  • Slogans are the quickest way to defeat Lebanon, On: Sun, 02 Jul 2017

  • Saudi Arabia recovers its initiative-taking spirit, On: Sun, 25 Jun 2017

  • Doha’s miscalculations at the core of Gulf crisis, On: Sun, 18 Jun 2017

  • Qatar needs to realise there is a new game in town , On: Sun, 11 Jun 2017

  • Iran’s missile comedy, On: Sun, 04 Jun 2017

  • When will Iran become a normal state? , On: Sun, 28 May 2017

  • Searching for a new formula in Yemen, On: Sun, 21 May 2017

  • Not the time for jokes in Yemen, On: Sun, 14 May 2017

  • Hamas will never learn from its mistakes. , On: Sun, 07 May 2017

  • Bashar Assad is in no position to criticise Jordan, On: Sun, 30 Apr 2017

  • Palestinians must rise to the challenge, On: Sun, 30 Apr 2017

  • Looking for a political solution in Yemen, On: Sun, 23 Apr 2017

  • The Muslim Brotherhood cannot deny the facts in Yemen , On: Sun, 09 Apr 2017

  • The other side of the Emirati intervention in Yemen, On: Sun, 26 Mar 2017

  • Resolution 1701, a weapon in the hands of Lebanon, On: Sun, 19 Mar 2017

  • Profiteering from the Palestinian cause, On: Sun, 05 Mar 2017

  • The two-state solution is the minimum required , On: Sun, 26 Feb 2017

  • Finally, someone is asking about what Iran is doing in Iraq , On: Sun, 12 Feb 2017

  • Lots of unknowns as Trump takes over Obama’s failures , On: Sun, 22 Jan 2017

  • The Somalisation of Yemen , On: Sun, 08 Jan 2017

  • The lessons of Gebran Tueni’s assassination, On: Sun, 18 Dec 2016

  • Is France going to the dogs? , On: Sun, 11 Dec 2016

  • The new Fatah has nothing to do with the old one, On: Sun, 04 Dec 2016

  • Iran’s attack on Lebanon , On: Sun, 20 Nov 2016

  • A new reign in Lebanon ushers in new challenges , On: Sun, 06 Nov 2016

  • Hezbollah, Michel Aoun and Lebanon’s presidential drama, On: Sun, 30 Oct 2016

  • The biggest winner in Morocco’s elections, On: Sun, 16 Oct 2016

  • Who really was Shimon Peres? , On: Sun, 09 Oct 2016

  • What do Iraq, Syria and Lebanon have in common? , On: Sun, 18 Sep 2016

  • Why there is little cause for hope in Yemen , On: Sun, 11 Sep 2016

  • Russia, Iran and Syrian legitimacy , On: Sun, 28 Aug 2016

  • US uncertainties trigger power game in Syria , On: Sun, 21 Aug 2016

  • Putin’s miscalculations in the battle for Aleppo , On: Sun, 14 Aug 2016

  • The life or death battle for Aleppo , On: Sun, 07 Aug 2016

  • Clinton better for the Palestinians than Bernie Sanders, On: Sun, 03 Jul 2016

  • The only certainty in Yemen , On: Sun, 26 Jun 2016

  • The target is Lebanon , On: Sun, 19 Jun 2016

  • Everyone in Yemen is in a state of denial

    Placing Al Hudaydah port under the control of a neutral side can logically be a starting point for a more comprehensive political settlement in Yemen.

    2017/08/13 Issue: 119 Page: 6

    Political deadlock pre­vails in Yemen and is likely to continue as none of the warring parties seem to have realised that a military solution to the conflict is virtually impossible. All previous power equations in Yemen have shifted and, what is worse, most Yemenis live in the fantasy world of old times.

    Why is a political solution virtually impossible in Yemen and what makes the prevailing situation very likely to continue?

    First, the Houthis do not seem to be willing to make concessions and accept that they are just one of the political forces on the scene. Houthi members appar­ently believe that they are the strongest and that they enjoy a revolutionary form of legitimacy in Yemen.

    This kind of legitimacy, how­ever, is pure fantasy. Starting from Saada in 2014, the Houthis expanded their control to neighbouring districts. In Amran, they kicked out the al-Ahmar clan with ease while Yemen’s interim President Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi watched. From there, they marched on Sana’a and took it after defeating the Yemen Army’s Brigade 310.

    The defeat of Brigade 310 was abominable for the Muslim Brotherhood in Yemen. The latter had considered that unit and the 1st Brigade as symbols of their military might in Yemen. Briga­dier-General Hameed al- Qushaibi, commander of Brigade 310, was loyal to the Muslim Brotherhood. He was hunted down and killed by the Houthis.

    Backed by Iran, the Houthis could have accepted a settlement by surrendering control of the port of Al Hudaydah to a neutral party. That port is crucial to supplying the Houthis. They refused to give up control because they do not accept the idea that they are just one element of the political map in Yemen and that they can be represented in any future government. They apparently believe they can spread their control to other areas in Yemen despite their daily losses.

    The Houthis in Sana’a are living in a fantasy reality of their own. They could not care less about Yemen or Yemenis. Their only concern is Iran’s expansionist plan. They cling to slogans such as “Death to America,” “Death to Israel,” “Damnation to the Jews.” Even Iran abandoned these slogans but the Houthis find them useful to maintain their grip on Sana’a’s inhabitants.

    What is really unfortunate is that the Houthis are gaining strength in Sana’a. The counter­balancing presence in Sana’a is Ali Abdullah Saleh’s camp. He draws his strength from a network of relations with forces from Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps and tribal leaders. A lack of funds, however, has weakened that network.

    Time is not on the side of a political settlement in Yemen, unless there is a miraculous military victory leading to the fall of Sana’a. In the immediate future, this eventuality is impossible.

    The Arab coalition involved in Operation Decisive Storm said it has achieved its first objective of eliminating Iran’s expansionist scheme in the region but the situation remains complex and desperate because there are no figures with enough credibility and “legitimacy” to play a unifying role in Yemen. Southern Yemen has split and the situation in Taiz and central Yemen is stagnating.

    Will Yemen remain hostage of the Houthis, a fanatical group with no political project for Yemen? Will it remain hostage of a legitimate group that can’t even protect itself in Aden? Will it remain hostage of southern leaders who do not believe in unification?

    Placing Al Hudaydah port under the control of a neutral side can logically be a starting point for a more comprehensive political settlement in Yemen. Logic, however, is the missing ingredient in the Yemeni stew.

    Everyone refuses to admit that the old Yemen is gone. The Houthis say they have a divine mission to go back to the era of Imamat — divine appointment — while supporters of the legitimate government say they can go back to the experiment started by Saleh that was irrevo­cably stopped by the Muslim Brotherhood.

    There are even those who envisage a Yemeni federation of some micro states. The piece missing from the picture is a unified Yemen. Is there anyone in Yemen ready to accept reality?

    Editors' Picks

    The Arab Weekly Newspaper reaches Western & Arabic audience that are influential as well as being affluent.

    From Europe to the Middle East,and North America, The Arab Weekly talks to opinion formers and influential figures, providing insight and comment on national, international and regional news through the focus of Arabic countries and community.

    Published by Al Arab Publishing House

    Publisher and Group Executive Editor: Haitham El-Zobaidi, PhD

    Editor-in-Chief: Oussama Romdhani

    Managing Editor: Iman Zayat

    Deputy Managing Editor and Online Editor: Mamoon Alabbasi

    Senior Editor: John Hendel

    Chief Copy Editor: Richard Pretorius

    Copy Editor: Stephen Quillen

    Analysis Section Editor: Ed Blanche

    East/West Section Editor: Mark Habeeb

    Gulf Section Editor: Mohammed Alkhereiji

    Society and Travel Sections Editor: Samar Kadi

    Syria and Lebanon Sections Editor: Simon Speakman Cordall

    Contributing Editor: Rashmee Roshan Lall

    Senior Correspondents: Mahmud el-Shafey (London) & Lamine Ghanmi (Tunis)

    Regular Columnists

    Claude Salhani

    Yavuz Baydar


    Saad Guerraoui (Casablanca)

    Dunia El-Zobaidi (London)

    Roua Khlifi (Tunis)

    Thomas Seibert (Washington)

    Chief Designer: Marwen Hmedi


    Ibrahim Ben Bechir

    Hanen Jebali

    Published by Al Arab Publishing House

    Contact editor

    Subscription & Advertising:

    Tel 020 3667 7249

    Mohamed Al Mufti

    Marketing & Advertising Manager

    Tel (Main) +44 20 6702 3999

    Direct: +44 20 8742 9262

    Al Arab Publishing House

    Kensington Centre

    177-179 Hammersmith Road

    London W6 8BS , UK

    Tel: (+44) 20 7602 3999

    Fax: (+44) 20 7602 8778

    Follow Us
    © The Arab Weekly, All rights reserved