(GPA) Sana’a, Yemen – The Houthis and their allies announced this week the formation and swearing-in of a new government in the capital city of Sana’a. The National Salvation Government immediately came under criticism from the United Nations as a “new and unnecessary obstacle” to peace. But is it?
The new National Salvation Government was announced on Tuesday– the 49th anniversary of Yemen’s independence from Britain– and will replace the previous Supreme Political Council. For many Yemenis, this signifies a step towards peace, unity, as well as an end to Saudi aggression and foreign influence.
But the United Nations doesn’t see things this way. In fact the UN Special Envoy for Yemen says this new government will only further divide the country along partisan lines and hinder the road to peace. “Yemen is at a critical juncture. The actions recently taken by Ansarullah and the General People’s Congress will only complicate the search for a peaceful solution. The parties must hold Yemen’s national interests above narrow partisan ambitions and take immediate steps to end political divisions and address the country’s security, humanitarian and economic challenges,” UN Special Envoy for Yemen Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed said in a response statement.
But is this true? While the Houthis haven’t directly responded to this specific statement, they have been participating in peace talks. On Tuesday, leader of the revolutionary movement, Saleh al-Sammad Houthi, called on the Yemeni people to rally behind the new government in order to push-out foreign influence and end Saudi-led aggression. “The president renewed his call to all Yemeni political parties to sit on the dialogue table to reach a just and comprehensive solution for all sides and triumph for the sake of the nation,” the Houthis’ news agency states.
“The step of forming the government stressed the giant importance of reinforcing our domestic position and serving our people, despite the difficult economic situation imposed by the aggression coalition,” Saleh al-Sammad Houthi said. Indeed, Yemen is the poorest country in the Middle East and this has only been exasperated by US sanctions and a Saudi air blockade which restricts travel and ultimately humanitarian aid.
The West has somewhat demonized the Houthi movement as being a puppet government for Iran. While there is evidence of Iran sending supplies to Houthi rebels, there isn’t evidence to support the idea that the government is working on behalf of Iran. Yes, they share common ideologies and common enemies (Saudi Arabia and the West). But that does not mean they are a puppet government. In fact, as recently leaked documents show, the current internationally-recognized Hadi government has turned out to be the one supported by foreigners including the United States and their Gulf allies.
You can read more about the conflict in Yemen here.
The new National Salvation Government’s cabinet was sworn in on Tuesday. Minsters plan to discuss and address policy immediately: economics (including the blockade), political differences, resources, and of course, Saudi-led aggression.