Yemen: A presidency under reconstruction

Yemen: A presidency under reconstruction
Comment: Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi needs to rebuild his image to reassert his presidency, or face joining the list of deposed and humiliated Arab presidents.
3 min read
24 Feb, 2015
Houthis ransack Hadi's home in Sanaa after he fled to Aden [Anadolu]
Yemeni President Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi's escape, or more accurately the decision to smuggle him out of his house in the capital, Sanaa, to the southern city of Aden by cover of night, is a new episode in the drama that has shattered the image of Arab leaders.

Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali began this episode begging Tunisians for calm the night he fled the country. Gaddafi then threatened to chase Libyan rebels from alleyway to alleyway, before he was later killed and his body displayed in a degrading public spectacle.

After the Iraq war, a bald US army officer was seen examining Saddam Hussein's mouth and unruly hair after he was captured. This contrasted sharply with Hussein's presidency when an uncountable number of statues were put up around Baghdad depicting him as a brave hero.

     Hadi can save his image by showing his departure from Sanaa was part of a carefully laid out plan.

There were also the images of former Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh suffering from burns after a rocket attack in June 2011.

Then, finally, leaked conversations between Abdel Fattah al-Sisi vulgarly jabbering with his office aides did very little to embellish his strongman image in Egypt.

Cameras failed to capture the semi-resigned Hadi's moonlit flit, however the siege and house arrest imposed on him by the Houthis paints a desperate and pathetic picture of a president mocked by Yemenis over the past few months for being weak.

Ironically, however, Hadi's escape from Sanaa provides an opportunity for him to restore both his shattered image and the situation in Yemen, if only he can re-establish authority.

Hadi can save his image by showing his departure from Sanaa was part of a carefully laid out plan. This will enable him to avoid being categorised alongside other deposed former and current Arab presidents.

Therefore, he escaped from his house in Sanaa, which was subsequently plundered, to Aden to resume his role as president.

Gulf states, especially Saudi Arabia, appear enthusiastic about Hadi's future if only he can play his cards right. If Hadi can harness the support of the wide-ranging civil society movement in Sanaa and other cities, and win a tribal support base it will enhance his chances of success.

In addition, if Saudi Arabia begins cooperating with the Yemeni Congregation for Reform (al-Islah), it will send a message to Iran that it miscalculated over events in Yemen.

If this can happen quickly it will avoid the image of Hadi being smuggled out of his house in the dark of night becoming another scene in the drama of the shattered image of Arab presidents.

Opinions expressed in this article remain those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of al-Araby al-Jadeed, its editorial board or staff.

This article is an edited translation from our Arabic edition.