Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 21 September 2020

What’s behind a recent escalation by Muslim Brotherhood factions in Yemen?

A recent trination meeting may provide the answer

War-torn Yemen could be set for more trouble in the near future. EPA
War-torn Yemen could be set for more trouble in the near future. EPA

Yemen observers have noticed an escalation in activity by Islamist group Al Islah in the Shabwah and Abyan governorates of the country and the reason for this uptick might have its roots in a tripartite meeting in South-East Asia last month.

Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Turkey’s president, met his Iranian counterpart Hassan Rouhani and Qatar’s emir Sheikh Tamim on the sidelines of last month’s Islamic Summit in Kuala Lumpur.

It is claimed the trio agreed at this meeting to "heat up" matters in Yemen by bringing Muslim Brotherhood or Al Islah factions closer to the Iran-backed Houthi rebel group, with the aim of exhausting coalition forces in the country.

An Al Islah delegation is also understood to have visited Turkey immediately after the summit, where Yemenis and Brotherhood representatives are reported to have met senior figures from the ruling AKP.

The apparent goal of the three nations is to push the Houthis to carry out further military operations in Yemen that weaken the Arab coalition’s will and discourage it from acting elsewhere, principally in Libya.

This new and increased Qatar-Turkey-Iran coordination is likely to take the following track:

Firstly, the Houthis and Al Islah will target secessionist Southern Transitional Council factions. The Brotherhood will also share information on the movements and whereabouts of the STC elite with the Houthis.

Secondly, the Houthis will resume missile and drone attacks against Saudi and Gulf targets. Playing the Houthi card is considered by Tehran to be the best way to counter America’s campaign of "maximum pressure".

By pursuing this course, the trio also believe they will stymie any chance of progress in indirect mediation between the Houthis and Saudi Arabia.

The three will seek to create cracks in the relationship between the legitimate government led by President Abdrabu Mansur Hadi and the Arab coalition.

They also plan to undermine the Riyadh power-sharing agreement, claiming that it has not achieved any progress.

They aim to drive wedges between the UAE and Saudi Arabia by claiming that Abu Dhabi has its own agenda in Yemen.

Al Jazeera and Iranian media channels in the Arab countries will push this narrative as well as one that implies convergence between Iran and Yemenis is real and, indeed, that reconciliation with the Houthis is possible.

They will argue that the best hope for the future lies with Yemeni factions rather than with external parties, such as Saudi Arabia and the UAE.

Finally, the trio will hinder all international peace efforts.

So, expect more activity – not less. Training may be offered to Brotherhood elements by Turkish forces and an invite will probably be extended to tribal leaders from Ankara, as the trio seeks to pit Yemenis against the coalition.

Mohamed AlHammadi is editor-in-chief of Alroeya

Updated: January 7, 2020 02:48 PM

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