THE LEVANT EXCLUSIVE – By Catherine Shakdam – Speaking of recent developments in Yemen, mainly the fall of Amran to the Houthis and the loss of the 310th Armoured Brigade, Abdulrahman Al Rashed, the former Editor in chief of Asharq Al Awsat published an opinion piece in which he argues President Abdo Rabbo Mansour Hadi’s presidential mandate and his ability to stir the impoverished nation through tempestuous waters.
From the very beginning of his Op-Ed Al Rashed outlined what he says is President Hadi’s inherent failure – his lack of leadership. He wrote, “The situation in Yemen requires a leader, not just a president of compromise.”
While many will certainly agree with Al Rashed as Yemen has quite dramatically fallen into the abyss since President Hadi’s 2012 one-man election show propelled him to the highest sphere of power, his supporters have always blamed government’s lagging and lacking on political meddling, wrangling and what not …
Might it be the electricity blackouts or the fuel penury, President Hadi has always assigned blame outside his government, speaking of former President Ali Abdullah Saleh’s lingering nefarious influence, or the alleged meddling of Iran within Yemen’s internal affairs.
Al Rashed argued that regardless of Iran’s influence or even its intervention in Yemen (which has yet it is important to note to be proven), President Hadi should not use such realities to justify his own inability to stir Yemen through what will be remembered as the nation’s most difficult time since the inception of the Republic.
“This [Yemen’s many crises] does not justify the failure of the Yemeni leadership, the defeat of the army, or the way the country has been left to slide to the edge of a cliff,” he wrote.
Quite sharp and direct in his assessment of President Hadi’s failures, Al Rashed blankly suggested he’d quit. “If he cannot face these serious challenges, he has to step down. His leadership has failed to achieve the reconciliation that was the only reason for its existence, and because of this failure, rebel bastions have multiplied across the country.”
He went on noting, “President Hadi cannot blame Iran for all that is happening in Yemen. Rather, he should blame his political team, which has failed to unite rivals and take advantage of the UN envoy’s efforts to minimize disputes. Hadi did not provide realistic solutions, and so he did not succeed in reducing conflicts.”
An embattled president, a tainted president since his past is intricately link to that of former President Saleh, President Hadi enjoys little popularity in Yemen and benefits from even less political traction.
But for all his misgivings and political stumbles, President Hadi’s downfall could be brought about by his children. As Al Rashed wrote, “His failure to convince his allies—never mind his enemies—is not the only problem; his administration and personal reputation have also been heavily criticized. He is also coming under increased fire for allowing his sons to interfere in state affairs.”
Ever so slowly President Hadi appears to be emulating former President Saleh’s nepotistic governing patterns, more pre-occupied with asserting and sealing the power of his house than work at Yemen’s recovery.
There lies a reality which irony will not escape readers.
At this particular juncture in Yemen’s history and giving all that has happened since 2011, Yemenis have said they would much rather see Gen Ahmed Ali Saleh nominated as their next president then spent another term under Hadi’s watch.
Al Rashed actually supports such assessment. He wrote, “If the people were to choose between the former and current presidents’ sons, they would choose Ahead, the elder son of isolated president Ali Abdullah Saleh. Ahmed was known as a respectable man who played a positive role during the transitional phase. But at that time, people did not want anyone from Saleh’s entourage to be their next leader.”
A man known for his can-do attitude, a man known for his military astuteness, a man well-known for his republican inclinations, Gen. Ahmed could be the leader Yemen actually needs.
While Yemenis might not have been ready to welcome his candidacy so far because of the shadow which his father projected onto him, four years of never-ending misery, unrest and hardship might have weaned Yemenis from whatever objections or ill-feelings they may have harboured against Gen. Ahmed on account of his family tree.
As President Hadi slowly loses control over his government and beyond all state institutions, the General, as many affectionately call him might just be the only man capable of pulling Yemen out of its black hole and give this poorest nation of Arabia a new lease on life.