The Muslim Brotherhood is an opportunist political Islamist organization, that has a proven exceptional talent in manipulating security chaos to flourish on the ruins of the falling nation-states. One apparent example of this argument is the rise of the Muslim Brotherhood factions, during the past decade, to fill in the power vacuums created by the fall of dictator regimes in Arab Spring countries. Another recent example is the current attempts of the Muslim Brotherhood’s affiliated parties and politicians, in Yemen, to replace the Houthi after being crashed by the Arab Coalition Forces. If successful, this will be a kiss of life that re-awakens the already dying international organization of the Muslim Brotherhood.
In Arab Spring countries, like Tunisia and Egypt, where engaging in the political game was the only path available to climbing the ladder of power, the Muslim Brotherhood had to go with the flow. But soon after, when they were kicked out of power, they showed their ugly face and returned to the old trick of instigating security chaos that divides the society and allows them to conquer their way back to the top. Unfortunately, this scheme succeeded in the Arab Spring countries, where tribal and ethnic bigotry found a space to appear after shaking the iron fist of the authoritarian regimes that kept them buried for a very long time. Yemen is the most extreme Arab Spring case, in this regard.
In Yemen, the Muslim Brotherhood is historically, more powerful than the Iran-backed Houthi militia. The Houthi started to appear as an influential political power, in 2012, following the Arab Spring revolution that ousted Ali Abdullah Saleh's regime from power. As soon as the Houthis got empowered by the Iranian funds and armament, they turned against the Muslim Brotherhood and tried in vain to marginalize them.
When the Houthis started to invade and seize main cities in the northern territories of Yemen, in 2014, the Muslim Brotherhood leaders approached them and offered help on the condition of dividing power with them. However, the Houthis refused and launched a few harmless attacks on strategic areas dominated by the Muslim Brotherhood to deter them. For decades before that, the Houthi worked as a low-profile Shiite movement, with the name “Ansarullah,” under the consent and protection of the Sunni Muslim Brotherhood, which effectively controlled the political, social, and military agendas of Yemen.
Politically, the famous Al-Islah Party (formally known as The Yemeni Congregation for Reform) has always been referred to as the political platform of the Muslim Brotherhood. However, in 2016, for political manipulation, the leaders of Al-Islah claimed that they were “not linked to the international organization of the Muslim Brotherhood.” The purpose of this manipulation was to loosen the tensions with the United Arab Emirates (UAE), after the Saudi-led initiative to bring Al-Islah and UAE’s visions closer. Saudi Arabia has always been a strong supporter of the Al-Islah Party, in Yemen, even during its involvement, with UAE, Egypt, and Bahrain, in the post-Arab-Spring campaign to fight against the Muslim Brotherhood expansion in the Middle East region.
Socially, the Muslim Brotherhood brainwashed generations of the Yemeni youth, since the 1960s, through their widely spread religious schools and institutes. Sheikh Abdul Majeed Al-Zindani, the founder and the spiritual leader of the Yemeni Muslim Brotherhood, is the one who led this mission since he returned from Egypt, wherein he was recruited by the Muslim Brotherhood while completing his university education. Al-Zindani’s religious schools were laboratories for producing and recruiting terrorists, who traveled to support Taliban and Al-Qaeda in Afghanistan and elsewhere, in the 1990s and beyond. In 2004, the United States Treasury designated Al-Zindani "as a person who commits threatens to commit, or supports terrorism."
Military-wise, the Yemeni military was led for decades by General Ali Mohsen Al-Ahmar, a close loyalist to the Muslim Brotherhood and Al-Islah Party since he was a young officer. He encouraged the implementation of the extremist Islamist rhetoric inside the military. At a certain point, he was reportedly helping Abdul Majeed Al-Zindani with training Yemeni youth to travel for jihad, in the ranks of Al-Qaeda, in Afghanistan. Also, he is the creator and de facto commander of the militia affiliated with the Al-Islah Party.
Under Ali Abdullah Saleh's regime, Al-Ahmer led crackdown campaigns on the Yemeni people in the southern governorates, especially the youth, who were greatly influenced by the Nasserist/communist rhetoric of the former Egyptian president, Gamal Abdel Nasser. In the 1990s, the Saleh regime issued a fatwa (religious advice) that described the citizens of the south as blasphemous and thus endorsed social and government-led violence against them.
Ironically, Ali Mohsen Al-Ahmar is still active in politics and is ambitiously waiting to be seated as the president of Yemen, whenever the opportunity allows. Despite his criminal history against the Yemeni southern citizens and his declared bias toward political Islamist rhetoric, he got recruited as the Vice President in the government of President Ali Mansour Hadi, who took office in 2012. Hadi’s government is the legitimate government, recognized by the United Nations, the international community, and the regional neighbors of Yemen.
In a recent TV interview, the President of the Southern Transitional Council, Aidrus Al-Zubaidy, condemned the fact that Al-Ahmar is serving as the second man in the legitimate government despite his linkage to the Muslim Brotherhood. Al-Islah Party, immediately, launched a fierce media campaign against Al-Zubaidy, in defense of Ali Mohsen Al-Ahmar. Al-Islah's exaggerated reactions defy Al-Ahmar’s claims that he is not affiliated with Al-Islah and also defies Al-Islah’s claims that they are not affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood.
Apparently, Ali Mohsen Al-Ahmar's chances to seize the presidential seat are increasing as the Arab Coalition Forces, led by Saudi Arabia and UAE, are ruthlessly determined to finish the Houthis, in retaliation to their drone attacks on Abu Dhabi, on the morning of January 17th. On the next day of the attack on Abu Dhabi, the Coalition Forces returned to launching air raids on Houthi-affiliated targets in Sana’a, and other northern governorates. Meanwhile, the UAE has been employing all its diplomatic resources to mobilize the United States and the international community to designate the Houthi as a terrorist organization and endorse the legitimacy of the Coalition Forces war in Yemen.
Most of the neighbors of Yemen, not only Saudi Arabia and UAE, are threatened by the Iran-backed Houthi militia and thus would like to see the end of the Houthi in Yemen, sooner than later. However, the current political equation in Yemen increases the potential of the Muslim Brotherhood to seize political power, as soon as the Houthi crashed. Inevitably, the Coalition Forces' intervention will simply replace the Shiite threat with an equally dangerous Sunni threat. Therefore, it is crucial for the Coalition Forces to think beyond finishing the Houthi, and keep a clear vision and plan of action for what should proceed afterward.
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