Hadi's foreign minister speaks to Al Jazeera

Last weekend, the foreign minister of President Hadi's government-in-exile, Riyadh Yasin, gave an interview on the current situation in Yemen to Al Jazeera English. The whole interview is worth watching (it's just over 20 minutes), but there are a few important points I'd like to highlight.  First, when asked about the current state of the Yemeni state military, FM Yasin claims that about one third of the military is still loyal to President Hadi, and is fighting against the pro-Houthi/pro-Saleh forces. He also claims that about half of the military units and assets controlled by former president 'Ali 'Abdullah Saleh have been destroyed already. Yasin also points out that many soldiers have simply deserted since the start of the war.

Yasin also refuses to admit that Yemen's conflict is, in fact, a civil war. Instead, he says it should be viewed as simply a coup by Saleh and the Houthi militia.

I think the idea that 1/3 of the army is still fighting for Hadi is beyond optimistic. There are definitely some segments of the regular military fighting against the Houthi/Saleh forces, particularly in Ta‘iz, but I think it's a relatively small number.

When asked about the humanitarian situation in Yemen, Yasin makes a claim that defies common sense and decency. He claims that the Saudi-led airstrikes and fighting on the ground haven't had as disastrous effect on the country as the foreign media thinks, and that Yemenis are used to living in very difficult conditions. Basically, he says that all of the current suffering is Saleh's fault for not building a better infrastructure during his 33-year-reign.

FM Yasin, who is based in Saudi Arabia, deserves some credit for openly criticizing the GCC initiative, which eased Saleh out of power in late 2011. He says that allowing Saleh to remain in Yemen was a "mistake," and that the GCC states are to blame for that mistake.

Yasin warns that if the Saudis and their coalition don't help Hadi's government regain control of the south soon, AQAP will likely move in and "become heroes of the people" by opposing the Houthis. This is, I think, a pretty good point.

Toward the end of the interview, Yasin says one more thing that's worth paying attention to. He says that Yemen is now "part of the Gulf states," and that the GCC members will be involved in "restructuring" Yemen once the conflict is over. The Saudi leadership has also talked recently about pushing through GCC membership for Yemen, something that has long been denied to the country in the past.

You can (and should) watch the full interview at this link.