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Kuwait Negotiation and the New Houthi’s War

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Dr. Haifa AlMaashi

Director, Geo-strategic Affairs Division

Tag: Geopolitics GCC conflict Geostrategic Affairs Hadramout Middle East Security Yemen Current Affairs
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Like Geneva negotiations 1 and 2, Kuwait negotiations have failed. What is different in this negotiation is that they indicated for sure that the Houthis and their allies are not keen to make any concessions to protect what is left of their power in Sanaa.



Having suffered, since last March, successive defeats and enormous loss of troops, weapons and funds, one wonders who embolden the Houthis and Saleh forces during Kuwait negotiation and purported to them that they are invincible?



Exhausted, after using up their military power, especially in the southern provinces, Houthis and Salih forces begun to develop new tactics. Internally, they started using new political, economical and social cards, to turn the table in their favor. They sought to dismantle the Southern Front, led by military and non-military southern leaders, by questioning the legitimate government security plans, exploiting the recent deportations issue in Aden of citizens from the northern provinces, and disseminating allegations pitting some local southern leaders against coalition forces leaders.



In addition they attempted to undermine the Gulf coalition role in Yemen by raising doubts about the relation between the coalition countries, questioning their unity, and alleged that the Gulf coalition is exploiting ports and recourses of the South. Regionally and internationally, they have been promoting that northern Yemenis are supporting them. This new tactic is giving them some lever to stay in the political scene as a foe to the legitimate government. The Houthis new tactic reveals that they master the new war game, using unconventional war devices. This means, in all cases, that the war still raging on, in Yemen.



Despite the fact that all these tactics depend on the conspiracy theory, the main culprit of which are the GCC countries led by UAE and Saudi Arabia, seemingly the purpose this time is not attacking foreign countries, but rather the inside, in particular southern leaders from Hadramaut, Aden, Lahij and Abyan. Targeted  southern leaders include both new leadership that emerged in the recent fighting of liberating Aden and  Hadramaut, and the former leaders who participated in the 1994 war. Houthis and Salih tactics are seen as a reaction to the recent victories of the Southern figures in their quest to build their front, and overcome divisions and conflicts that halted their progress since 1986. Seemingly, this raised the concerns of the Northern Front led by Houthis, Saleh and elements of some parties that lost their neutrality in the confrontation between the conflicting parties in Yemen. All these elements fear a unified entity on the other side.



On the political and media fronts, Houthis and Saleh have played their cards well. The issue of deporting northern citizens was not the main issue, but it was a pretext played in the media to achieve their goals. The manipulation is still going on. In a systematic propaganda, rebel Media have made some successes in promoting the bullet theory using different issues such as the deportations, igniting social media. This war was played by many players including Saleh himself through his speech on the Facebook, his allies and supporters in the General People's Congress party and joint meeting parties.






Kuwait negotiation was part of the propaganda used by Houthis and their allies. The maneuvers of the Houthis and Saleh confirmed that they are not willing to bring peace. They only want to show off themselves as a rival to the legitimate government. They want to reflect that they have a legitimacy in Sanaa government supported by the public, exactly like Aden government. This means that they are determined to stay in power and are not planning to apply Resolution No.  2216.

Houthis propaganda extended to question the UAE's role in Yemen. A new tone which is played by Houthis and Salleh elements emerge. They now question the UAE military role as well as it is developmental programmes in Yemen. The Gulf Arab coalition must be aware of this. The psychological war played in Aden could be replicated in Mukalla, Abyan and many other Yemeni cities.



Random sporadic ballistic strikes by rebels that fail to achieve their targets demonstrate the military weakness they have suffered recently. The same can be said about the counter-attacks they sometimes carry out either in Nahm, Dali , or Naqil Thara in Laudar and Mukiras road. They are still mobilizing the remains of their weakening armies despite shortage of fuel and ammunition which plays a key role in depletion of military abilities. The current war led by Houthis and Saleh is primarily information and psychological. It should be countered by a counter attack, both from inside Yemen and the Gulf Arab Coalition. This war is not planned in Yemen, but there are planning centers outside Yemen represent official media bodies which showed their tendencies in analysis of many foreign newspapers and international TV channels by their efforts to systematically and accurately influence international public opinion and even turning victories against Al-Qaeda in Muklla into false victories in order to question the role by the Southern Front in Hadrmout and the role by Coalition although they had been using Muklla as the main reason for all problems and conflicts of Yemen. The issue of Al-Qaeda in Muklla may be exploited again following the recent suicide bombings in camps of Fawah and Khalaf in Muklla to challenge and question the Gulf role in combating Al-Qaeda.



Influencing the international community had been clear during Kuwait negotiations when the international representatives led by Ismail Wald Sheikh Ahmed tried to persuade the Huthi-Saleh delegation by offering an alternative plan that was contrary to what had already been agreed of by the parties as it contained a general framework of negotiation. It is a step backwards in an attempt to subdue Houthi-Saleh party and force them to implement the previous Security Council resolutions. Even this alternative plan did not work, instead, it led the rebels and Saleh to demand equal rights and confirm the power-sharing component in the next phase.



It seems that Houthis and their allies have achieved their political purposes in emphasizing their future role in ruling Yemen. It seems that reviewing the international military history has benefited them in exploitation the fabricated war media for their own purposes. As Germany had been portraying its army as the "invincible Reich Army", Houthis and Saleh are trying the same with their forces and to emphasize that they are "invincible" in propaganda directed to local and international public opinion. However, the reality is that they have lost tens of thousands of their fighters and 70% of their military arsenal. It an attempt to use media as an old- fashioned military tool to frighten opponents and win supporters inside and outside Yemen. It seems that they have achieved a short term influence in Kuwait negotiations, albeit their historical review confirms that they have not fully understood the lesson. Houthi-Saleh quest to emphasize their future role in ruling Yemen shows that any potential political settlement may be impossible in the scope of the recent negotiations. This means that it is important to adopt a strategy that is different from the previous one in order to force Houthis and Saleh and their new allies to retreat and admit defeat to reach possible peaceful solutions in Yemen. Continuation of such negotiations may play for the purposes of Houthis and Saleh as it confirms their false victory and prolong war. It more useful to look for other means that clearly monitor the military and political reality away from false Houti threats and the games of media and psychological war which proved failure and forced their players outside the battle field and political life.

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