The Houthi rebels and the Yemeni Islah party have brought their contacts into the open, as part of arrangements between the two sides aimed at preempting a comprehensive solution to the Yemeni crisis, led by the United Nations and regional countries in an attempt to end the Houthi coup.
Observers see the public display of the Islah party as a leap in the air, hoping to get closer to the seat of power.
Recently, the Houthi militias and the Islah party conducted several meetings, with the most prominent ones taking place over the past two days. These meetings included the prominent Houthi leader Ali al-Qhoum, a member of the political office of the Houthi militias, as well as Fathi Al-Azab, a member of the General Secretariat of the Islah party, and Mansour Al-Zindani, a member of the party’s parliamentary bloc, which represents the political umbrella of the Muslim Brotherhood.
According to Houthi leader Al-Qhoum, the meeting with the Islah party aimed at “building relations” and “continuous coordination” to strengthen what he called the “internal front” and “partnership” in order to preserve “independence and unity.”
The Houthi-Islah meetings reveal the hidden partnership between the two parties, which aims to disrupt the security of liberated areas, especially in the south, led by the Southern Transitional Council, as they pose an obstacle to the return of the Houthis and the Islah party to the legitimate scene, according to Yemeni politicians.
Mansour Saleh, the Deputy Head of the Media Department at the Southern Transitional Council, was not surprised by the Houthi-Islah meetings, as he considered them ongoing and continuous since the militias were in their main stronghold in Saada.
At that time, according to Saleh, the Secretary-General of the Islah Party, Abdulwahab Al-Ansi, met with Houthi leader Abdul-Malik Al-Houthi to reach an understanding before the Houthis entered Sanaa. They agreed not to confront each other with the first armored brigade and the tribes loyal to the Muslim Brotherhood, in exchange for the Muslim Brotherhood leaders staying in Sanaa and investing in it.
The Southern leader pointed to the “ongoing flirtation” of some Muslim Brotherhood leaders, especially those residing abroad, with the Houthis. They continuously attack the coalition, praise the militias, and emphasize that they are a Yemeni component that must be accepted.
In regards to whether the meeting between the Muslim Brotherhood and the Houthis targets the project of the Southern Transitional Council, Saleh confirmed that “no matter how different and divergent the Muslim Brotherhood and the Houthis may be, they unite in their hostility towards the South, its cause, and its leaders. The more they sense that the South is moving towards determining its future, the more they freeze their disagreements to focus on the South.”
Saleh cited the Muslim Brotherhood‘s decision to halt their “fragile” military confrontation with the Houthi militias and their shift towards fighting in the South, claiming that the road to Sanaa passes through Aden, after ensuring control over it and preventing what the group calls “secession.”
He added that “beyond these announced meetings, there have been previous meetings and a prior state of secret communication between the two organizations, as well as a unified media discourse against the South and a hostile language that appears to emanate from the same source targeting the South and the Southern Transitional Council.”
Regarding the Yemeni Muslim Brotherhood‘s search for a new partnership with the Houthis in the coup government that the militias plan to form, Saleh said, “The Muslim Brotherhood does not object to forming a partnership with the Houthi militias and has previously signed a peace and partnership agreement with them after their takeover of Sanaa. They entered into unfinished agreements in 2014 regarding the closure of the file of the former President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi and power-sharing.”
As long as the group kept a “thread of connection” and did not sever it, and did not seriously confront the militias militarily, hoping to remain in power, according to the Southern leader.
He added, “The Muslim Brotherhood is ready today to reach a political understanding with the militias after failing militarily to form a partnership that both parties need. The Houthis want to show the world that they are open to everyone and silence the voices of opposition, while the Muslim Brotherhood wants to return to power because that is a fundamental goal for them.”
Timing and implications
The Muslim Brotherhood and the Houthis took advantage of the Yemeni people’s preoccupation with events in Gaza and used their recent meeting announcement in Sanaa as a step that carries numerous political messages and implications, according to observers.
Saleh Ali Al-Dwila Baras, a Yemeni writer and political analyst, believes that “the meetings at this timing are ideal for both the Houthis and the Muslim Brotherhood, given the public’s focus on the events in Gaza.”
He pointed out that the Muslim Brotherhood views the Saudi-Iranian agreement as a key to resolving the crisis in Yemen and seeks a position in the future, especially since these meetings are not the first and will not be the last.
He noted that the Houthi-Muslim Brotherhood rapprochement aims at countering the Southern Transitional Council’s project and targeting some factions of the General People’s Congress party in northern Yemen.
Wadhah bin Attiyah: The Main Goal of the Houthi is to Starve the Yemeni People, and We Will Not Stand Idly By
He said, “Certainly, the Houthi-Muslim Brotherhood meetings target the Southern Transitional Council project in the south, where the Muslim Brotherhood will explain to the Houthis the importance of their partisan inroads in the southern arena, where they attract southern segments through religious discourse, something that the Houthi sectarian discourse cannot achieve in the south.”
Regarding the Muslim Brotherhood‘s quest for a new partnership with the Houthis, the political analyst confirmed that “the Muslim Brotherhood‘s strategy is primarily based on forming an alliance with the authority or staying close to it, and anyone who follows the organization’s history finds that they do so even if the authority is repressive and in conflict with them, as is the case with the Houthi militias.”
Observers believe that the Houthi-Muslim Brotherhood meetings come in the midst of changes on the ground in the southern arena, which prompted the Houthi militias and the Muslim Brotherhood to announce their meetings, which had remained secret and hidden for a long time before coming to light in the past two days.