Mohammed al-Yadomi, the head of an influential Yemeni party, was attending a summit on Jerusalem in Istanbul on Wednesday when he was summoned to the Saudi capital for an unprecedented meeting with two of the Arab world’s most powerful leaders.
A private Saudi plane flew al-Yadomi to Riyadh for talks with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed, the crown prince of the U.A.E.’s capital, Abu Dhabi, according to the deputy chief of Islah’s media department, Adnan al-Odaini. Little detail has emerged from the discussions. But the fact that the meeting took place at all may signal the beginning of new realignments in Yemen’s nearly three-year civil war, which has drawn in the Saudi and U.A.E. militaries and degenerated into a humanitarian catastrophe.
Al-Yadomi is chairman of the Islamist Islah party, which is affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood, a group the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia have banned. While Saudi Arabia has put aside its reservations over Islah’s affiliations to welcome its leaders as part of the internationally recognized government of Yemeni President Abdurabuh Mansur Hadi, the U.A.E. has had no public contacts with the party.
The U.A.E. classifies the Muslim Brotherhood as terrorists, putting it on the same spectrum as extremist groups such as Islamic State. It’s jailed members of a local franchise on charges of conspiring to overthrow the government, and in Egypt, backed the overthrow of elected Islamist leader Mohamed Mursi in 2013.
The Muslim Brotherhood, established in Egypt in the 1920s, seeks power via the ballot box, a model of political activity that Gulf autocratic monarchies view as a threat.
Al-Odaini said Prince Mohammed “made a big effort, an effort that such a meeting clearly needed” to happen. “It looks like it’s meant to remove more obstacles facing the coalition and the legitimate Yemeni government in the fight” against Houthi rebels, he said in an interview from Riyadh on Thursday.
Read full article by Donna Abu-Nasr and Mohammed Hatem on Bloomberg Politics, December 14, 2017.