Abdul-Malik al-Houthi

Seven challenges ahead of Yemen’s Ansarullah for government building

Alwaght- Yemen’s Ansarullah movement during the year-long developments of the country has displayed in a best possible way its power to mobilize people and also make best use of its popular support.

Six rounds of war during six years with the government of the former Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh between 2004 and 2010, as well as strategic political and doctrinal thinking during these years have added to the movement’s experience in terms of politics and governing in the country.

Many of the international affairs analysts consider Ansarullah as the most significant, most essential, and most organized player in Yemen’s political scene at the present time.

Without doubt, the popular movement would have a key role in the prospective process of government building. The analysts also suggest that in no way would Ansarullah return to the pre-2011 conditions, and would not be pushed to the sidelines in the upcoming political settlement.

Nevertheless, to run the government building process, and for the next step of leading the government in Yemen, Ansarullah is facing domestic and external challenges as follows:

– Failure to reach a nationwide consensus

Yemen is the only country among the Arab states that while the tribes are playing the major factor in its political structure it is not suffering from the pitfalls of government building. In fact, unlike many of the Arab countries, the Yemeni national identity is not artificial, rather, it is historically-developed and deep-rooted. This makes Ansarullah have no difficulty building the upcoming government in the country. However, it has in front of it the large-scale problems of non-convergence, disunity, and lack of national-level consensus, because the present Yemen was earlier a Northern and Southern Yemen. The two splits reunited in May 22, 1990. This comes while in the government building process the societal convergence as part of the concept of a united nation is of high significance.

Insecurity and instability in Yemen

Despite the fact that the governments in the past rose out of wars, in today’s world, a successful and strong government could not emerge out of the civil war in a country. Even the major powers are not able to form a strong and successful government through winning the war over the opposite side.

Actually, the successful government building happens when the power struggle ends in a specific country, and the state experiences a relative stability, especially political stability. Should the political stability is not achieved in a favorable way in a country, one of the basic and integral requirements for leading the power would go faulty.

The political stability as one of the factors of government building could be brought in spotlight through the perspective of the progress the political institutions of the country make. These political institutions in their most blatant and tangible types could be seen in the army and the military power status as well as the advances in use of power in defense of the nation. Moreover, they could be examined through democracy progresses, and development of the democratic standards like increase in political participation, meritocracy, and the citizenship equality.

Looking at it from these two aspects, it could be maintained that Yemen has no stability. Due to poverty in the country, and structural collapse which comes as a result of frequent commanders changes and the recent five years insecurity, the Yemeni army is not enjoying a minimum level of stability.

In the current crisis that started with the Saudi Arabian aggression against Yemen, if it was not the role of the pro-Ansarullah popular forces, the Yemeni armed forces could not withstand the strikes by Al Saud’s fully-equipped army.

On the other hand, in terms of politics, the current Yemen lacks the experiences on civility, democracy, meritocracy, and civil society building. To build a successful government, Ansarullah needs to restructure the army, strengthen it, and also establish a real democracy in the country. But it would not be a short-term process as Yemen is grappling with poverty and accumulated economic troubles, rather, it could take a long-term process. The initial condition for moving in this course is end of the current war, because as long as the country is involved in a devastating war, and on the other side the hostile Saudi forces are carrying out their attacks on a daily basis at different regions across Yemen, no opportunity and prospects of reforms could be seen in Yemen.

Weak Yemeni economy

Any successful government building would require at least a relative degree of economic stability. But Yemen not only has no relatively healthy economy but also it is considered as the poorest Arab country. The 2011 crisis led to an increase in the country’s poor population from 42 percent in 2009 to 52.4 percent in 2012. Furthermore, Yemen has one of the highest levels of population growth rates. Roughly 45 percent of the Yemeni population are facing food insecurity. These tough economic conditions make the process of building the government face a slew of difficulties because people expect the government to address their basic demands in the short run, and so on the other side want the heads of state to prioritize their demands over other cases. To put it another way, the people in poor countries lack the patience in the transitional period to see completion of government building process, rather, in first steps they want recovery of their living conditions.

Distrust in alliances and agreements

Yemen is recognized as the country of transient alliances. It means that the coalitions and deals between the groups and movements in Yemen have no implementation guarantee, and so any time they could collapse. The historical record in such alliances in Yemen is an appropriate substantiation for this issue. While Ansarullah cannot form a government in association with other groups and movements in the country, it needs to bolster its power as a united entity, and set no hope on the other parties of Yemen’s crisis.

– Yemen’s weak political and social establishments

None of the Yemeni figures and tribes in the course of history of the country have been able to rule the country alone, except for the government of Imams of Yemen which ruled the country just before establishment of the modern-day Yemen Arab Republic. Even the former President Ali Abdullah Saleh who held the power for the longest period of 34 years in Yemen could not rule the country solely, although he had foreign supports, and most importantly the internal support.

In such conditions even if Ansarullah movement wants to use force to get into the government, the other parties would refrain from partnership with it, and it would be isolated. Other than General People’s Congress which for its own interests is working with Ansarullah, other parties in Yemen would not necessarily side with resistant movement.

Lack of experience, influential figures, and a board of political experts

The lack of influential political figures, enough experience, and people with political expertise for the governing work are another hurdle ahead of Ansarullah in realization of nation-state making scenario. The members of the novel political branch of Ansarullah are the enthusiastic youths who are unable to take over crucial political tasks, and are majorly have expertise in military matters. This comes while formation of government and managing the country urge an experienced and skilled board of politicians. Additionally, one of other requirements of Ansarullah for forming the government is to add to its practical experience in Yemen official politics, and especially make efforts to enter into coalition making process with other forces and political parties in a bid to make its objectives possible.

Misrecognition by other countries

For a successful government building process, Ansarullah faces a variety of external challenges. The most important international-level principle for building a government is being recognized by the other countries, and if there is no such a recognition, the formed government could not have any influence out of its territories and in the International scene.  Ansarullah is facing the challenge of misrecognition by some of the regional and international powers. Without doubt, the possible government formed by Ansarullah would draw uncompromising opposition of such countries as Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and even Egypt in regional level, and the US as well as the Western countries in international level. As they made it clear during the past six months, the powers would not accede to Ansarullah-formed government in Yemen in the future. Therefore, these countries put high on their agenda all-out pressures on Ansarullah which actually meant on the Yemeni people, as during the Saudi-led war against the country, the kingdom did its best to paint Ansarullah’s behavior and measures as responsible for spark of war, and so tried instigate people against the resistant movement.

All in all, the challenges ahead of Ansarullah could be broken in two internal and external factors. The challenges at home are digestible due to the critical political and economic conditions. Yemen’s political scene is highly complicated, and although leading role of Ansarullah in the future of the country is almost secured, the vulnerability of this leadership in the future is also highly possible, because the alliances of Yemeni tribes are largely unpredictable and so no hopes could be set on them. Therefore, it must be noted that Yemen’s troubles are so wide-ranging and intricate that neither Ansarullah nor any other party in Yemen could take the duties in a bid to address the popular political and economic demands. In such a situation, it is necessary for all of the parties including Ansarullah to show commitment to the democratic political and military principles, and so pursue together building a state so that the country gets the opportunity to move out of the current crisis towards the government building process.

By Al Waght