Shabwah Fighting: A Test the Presidential Leadership Council Failed

The PLC, seen as the best bet to ensure the continuity of Yemen’s unity, was unable to stem the outbreak of fighting last month that reached the highest levels since last February.

The Republican flag has fallen in Shabwah Governorate in Yemen, and with it come many expectations that the Presidential Leadership Council (PLC) might be able to fully control the various components of the Yemeni government military. The PLC, seen as the best bet to ensure the continuity of Yemen’s unity, was unable to stem the outbreak of fighting last month that reached the highest levels since last February.

Parties to the fighting in Yemen are the army’s second brigade, which adheres to the Yemeni Islah (Muslim Brotherhood) party, and forces affiliated with Shabwah governor Awadh al-Awlaqi, which are loyal to the forces of the Transitional Council of the South (STC) and to the forces of the South. Giants Brigades, a pro-government Yemeni militia.

Shabwah on the roadmap of the United Arab Emirates

Victims ; injuries; accusations of violating national sovereignty and cooperating with Ansar Allah (the Houthi movement), the de facto authority in northern Yemen; insulting the symbols of Yemen’s unity; and dramatic shifts in the agenda of recently appointed PLC Chairman Rashad al-Alimi – these are just some of the challenges al-Alimi faces to pull the PLC out of the storm it has been thrown into by members who implement the agenda of external parties.

Journalist and political analyst Saddam Muhammad told The Media Line that Governor Awadh al-Awlaqi recently sacked Islah party leaders who control the Transitional Council over events, while forces loyal to Islah fear STC forces. and the movement of the Giants Brigades towards the governorate of Hadramout. and the port of Al-Wadeah, under the control of the second brigade.

“The clashes in Shabwah will not end yet, and the warring parties are still looking to push towards this governorate,” Muhammad said. He described the fighting as a “bone breaking phase” between the forces on the ground. “Even though the picture is unclear to many about the reality of events in the oil-rich Shabwah governorate, the UAE has begun to draw its own roadmap in Yemen,” he said.

“The UAE has started, in numerous incidents, transporting and smuggling oil from the governorate [Shabwah] in unknown places,” Muhammad added. “Shabwah comes after Aden and Socotra on the list of UAE interests. It is a governorate of great importance for the Emirates, and it is not easy for them to give up a governorate of such importance.

His conclusion is that the CLP has failed this time and that the recent fighting has created a rift between the members of the CLP. “The events were a real test for the PLC in uniting ranks and efforts to confront the Houthis, build the country and usher in a phase of lasting peace, but the PLC failed its first test.

The PLC Cake

Imad Hassan, a member of the second brigade in Shabwah governorate, spoke to Media Line about the origin of the current crisis. He argues that members of the internationally recognized government began to share the cake, while the Islah party controlled parts of the gas-rich governorate of Ma’rib and tried to control the oil-rich governorate of Shabwah, through some of his followers. military leaders and by the former governor of Shabwah.

“The STC, which sees the Muslim Brotherhood as an enemy on the ground, sensed the danger of the Islah party controlling the governorate,” Hassan said. Thanks to pressure from the United Arab Emirates, the Saudi ally of the coalition, a governor loyal to the STC was appointed, and so a campaign began against the Muslim Brotherhood in the governorate.

“The Brotherhood won’t give up the case so easily,” Hassan said. “Heads are turned towards the east, in particular towards the governorate of Hadhramaut, which is controlled by the Islah party, including the land port of Wadi’a with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (Saudi Arabia). These governorates generate huge revenues for the Islah party, which contributes to its survival and finances its war against the de facto authority. [the Houthis].

“Even though the military clashes have subsided, clashes between the parties to the conflict will continue and the pressure on the PLC will mount,” Hassan added. “The Islah party has threatened to withdraw from the PLC if such clashes continue. The PLC parties are settling their accounts and obtaining satisfactory shares to ensure the political future of Yemen.

Agenda unknown

According to Mohammed Namish, a staff member of the Shabwah governor’s office, divisions persist within the PLC over the Shabwah events, with “the sackings of security officials, bombings and assassination attempts”. that took place [last] Thursday and Friday against leaders loyal to Governor Awadh al-Awlaqi. As this conflict continues, its results reverberate among citizens, who have been afraid to leave their homes and live normal lives. »

Ammar al-Awlaqi, a Yemeni citizen who owns a shop in Ataq, the capital of Shabwah governorate, told The Media Line: “The situation is scary. Most residents fear this will continue, and it has already destroyed homes and businesses. »

He added that locals are accused of being loyal to either side in the war, which could lead to arrest or even death.

Namish also noted that the Governor of Shabwah and Governorate leaders summoned forces from Abyan Governorate and other forces affiliated with the Giants Brigades to join the Shabwah in fighting against the Second Brigade. In turn, the Islah Party itself summoned forces from Marib Governorate to join the fight.

Namish told The Media Line that, contrary to what has been circulating in the media, the clashes were not aimed at suppressing a rebellion by certain military leaders, but rather between the main factions and members of the PLC. The PLC called on the warring parties to stand down but the request was denied. Following this, the governor decided to purge security officials loyal to the Islah party.

The Media Line contacted leaders of the Second Brigade, Giants Brigades and Shabwah Governor’s Office for comment on the Shabwah events, but received no response.

Yemeni media circulated a video showing gunmen firing a barrage of bullets at the Yemeni flag. Some observers have described these events as the beginning of Yemen’s unity. The UAE-backed STC seized control of southern governorates, particularly oil-rich ones, in what some saw as armed clashes aimed at eliminating Yemen’s Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated Islah party.

The PLC is divided into several political components that differ in terms of ideologies and interests and is in a transitional phase that began in early April when former Yemeni President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi abdicated power.

Kevin E. Boling