As Saudi Arabia and Qatar continue to feud over the now infamous Muslim Brotherhood and its alleged link to radical Islam, countries such as Yemen have found themselves caught in a complicated net of allegiances and alliances.
Such intra-regional political tensions could not have come at a worse time for Yemen. Keen to rally as much financial and political support as it can possibly master as it undergoes its institutional overall, Yemen coalition government needs not to antagonize any potential partner, especially not one of the likes of Qatar or Saudi Arabia.
But while Yemen might not want to play pig in the middle, political realities have nevertheless landed the country in a rather peculiar and difficult position.
According to media, both within and without Yemen, state officials are risking alienating their powerful Saudi neighbours over their insistence not to sever all ties with the Brotherhood. If Egypt has completely wiped out the Muslim Brotherhood off its political map, having gone as far as associating its members with terror radicals, Yemen President Abdo Rabbo Mansour Hadi has been less inclined to shun al-Ekhwan, only too aware of the storm such belligerent attitude would ignite in the country.
Unlike other countries in the Middle East where the Muslim Brotherhood has played a limited political role, Yemen’s Islamists are part of the inner centrum of power. Al-Islah, which acts an umbrella for several Sunni political and tribal factions such as the Muslim Brotherhood, is after all one of Yemen’s political heavy-weights. For decades al-Islah has been the main party of the opposition, the only faction which ever could act a counter-power to former President Ali Abdullah Saleh.
Moreover, should President Hadi decide to shun Islamists he would risk prompting Qatar’s ire, a major financial patron. In needs of both Qatar and Saudi Arabia, Yemen simply does not want to choose, it cannot choose.
According to western diplomatic sources, Saudi Arabia and the UAE which have both allied forces against the Muslim Brotherhood and thus Qatar for its refusal to comply with the new GCC policy, have called on President Hadi to exclude Islamists from all key positions: military, politics and security.
But even though President Hadi has no interest what so ever in opposing his powerful regional partners’ will, he cannot possibly comply with such demands, not a time when Yemen requires absolute political cooperation and national unity.
So what is President Hadi to do?
For now he has deliberately chosen to do nothing; at least nothing which could be perceived as partisan by either of his opposing partners. It is such political inertia which according to al-Quds al-Arabi, a pan-Arab newspaper, has generated a rift in between Riyadh and Sana’a, so much so, that Saudi and UAE officials have been rumoured to have threatened Yemen with financial sanctions through the non-disbursement of aid packages.
While such claims are purely speculative, Saudi Arabia/Qatar’s feud has undeniably reverberated onto Yemen.
Al Quds al-Arabi theorized that Saudi Arabia seeks by calling on President Hadi to ostracize Islamists from Yemen’s political life to limit his influence and allow former President Saleh’s political star to shine brighter again. It wrote, “Saudi Arabia seeks to skew the process of political settlement in Yemen and reduce the validity of President Hadi to advance the influence of former President Ali Abdullah Saleh.”
But not all analysts agree with such views. While many observers agree that the Arabian Peninsula is undergoing change within the parameters of the GCC crisis of opinions, they do not feel Yemen will become a proxy, not since so much of the region stability rides on Yemen’s ability to re-address its political rod.