The Saudi Decision Regarding Terrorist Groups and its Impact on the Political Situation in Yemen

EPC | 24 Mar 2014

As part of the balance of power related to the tribal construct in the public sphere, and the factors that limit the impact and effectiveness of the roles of Northern Yemeni tribal figures and their political and social positions; the current reality reveals new data and facts. It seems that these data and facts will redesign the formula of tribal balances on bases different from what was prevailing during the last years of former president Ali Abdullah Saleh’s rule. The decision of Saudi Arabia regarding terrorist groups overshadows the political situation in Yemen. But the impact of Riyadh’s decision on the Yemeni landscape will not be dramatic for a number of reasons, notably: • The sensitivity of the transitional situation which Yemen is going through, • The Saudi sponsorship of this transition, • The engagement of the international community in the settlement process because it views the situation in Yemen as a threat to world peace. It does not seem that Riyadh’s decision is a threat to the transitional process, but it remains a possibility. This possibility depends on the reactions of the parties concerned with this decision. The Saudi decision does not affect the existing balance of power, nor the existing alliances except the limits it imposes on the alliance between Saleh and the Houthis and how much it bolsters the MB alliance with the leftist forces. Yemen ties with Saudi Arabia and other countries allied with it against MB are not expected to suffer in the near future at least. Still, the decision will put Yemen under the pressure of regional bickering in an unprecedented way. Because it gives some regional competitors of Saudi Arabia and its allies a bigger chance to cement its penetration of the situation in the country. Iran, Qatar and Turkey are on top of the list of countries that will benefit from the decision to achieve more penetration and influence in Yemen. In view of the size and quality of transformations, which have affected the map of the tribal influence since the events of 2011 until now, observers can conclude that the Bakil tribe, especially its leaders and notables, who descend from families with historical and social status in the tribe, have a golden opportunity to play a role different than the secondary and supplementary role it used to play in the past, which was mostly on the margin allowed by the Hashid power with its three poles – President Saleh, Sheikh al-Ahmar and General Mohsen.

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