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Ali Saleh’s Political Return to Sana’a

While the Yemeni national dialogue is coming to its conclusion, the main benefit achieved from this encouraging development may not necessarily be reaching a national reconciliation.  Rather, it could serve to reveal to each participant the real positions of all the others and to emphasize that despite differences, talks are still possible.

Parallel to the noisy meetings of the national conference, some game changing cards were being played. One important event was the announcement of a formation of a “youth organization” to promote Ahmed Ali Abdullah Saleh, the son of the former president and current ambassador of Yemen to the UAE, to run for president.

Another significant development was the clear signal sent by Saleh’s Popular Congress Party (PCP) to the Southern Al Herak that the PCP wants to form a new alliance to confront the Islamist Al Islah.   Up until now, Al Islah has never known what to do about the shadow of the former president that seems to permeate every corner of post-revolution Yemen.

The PCP idea is to form a new alliance of PCP and Al Herak to confront both the local adversaries, that is Al Islah and its allies, and those who are perceived to represent Iran, that is the Houthi  Sh’ites and some political organizations based in South Yemen

Southern president Ali Salem Al Beid, who recently opened a TV station in Beirut was accused of receiving financial backing from both the Lebanese Hezbullah and from Tehran. While the accusations against Al Beid may be questionable, they are less so in the case of Ansar Allah.

Neighboring countries are concerned about the situation in Yemen insofar as it influences their own security—and it does in many ways. Al Qaeda is very active in Yemen, and Iran has its Ansar Allah.

Questions about the continuation of security cooperation between Saudi Arabia and the United States in confronting Al Qaeda will not be an issue as that cooperation is going on as usual, despite the recent chill between the two countries.   Other questions about the stability of the political process in Sana’a however, must be examined in light of the current regional polarization. And the one central remaining question is whether Ali Saleh will get back to Yemen, supported by some neighbors, in the role of father of the next president and of the country, as some of his supporters nowadays call him.

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