Saudi Arabia has barred Yemen’s president, along with his sons, ministers and military officials, from returning home for months, Yemeni officials tell The Associated Press, a sign of how much the leader-in-exile has been deeply weakened in a war fought in his name by the Saudi-led coalition against rebels in his country.
The officials said the ban was prompted by the bitter enmity between President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi and the United Arab Emirates [bold mine-DL], which is part of the coalition and has come to dominate southern Yemen, the portion of the country not under rebel control. Hadi and much of his government have been in the Saudi capital Riyadh for most of the war.
Saudi Arabia and the UAE are the two main pillars of the coalition, which is ostensibly defending Hadi’s government and is battling the Shiite rebels known as Houthis.
Hostility between the UAE and Hadi’s government has been out in the open for many months. Hadi has virtually no support inside Yemen thanks in large part to his backing of the atrocious coalition bombing campaign and blockade, and the UAE has aligned itself with local political actors in the south that have real influence. Nonetheless, restoring Hadi to power has been the very slender reed on which the coalition has based its intervention for the last two and a half years. Insisting that Hadi leads the “legitimate” government was the fig leaf the coalition was hiding behind. By barring Hadi and his officials from going back to their own country while claiming to be fighting on behalf of his restoration, the coalition has confirmed publicly that they were simply using the “legitimate” president as a puppet and now no longer find him useful. The Saudi-led intervention has been indefensible all along, and now there is no pretense that it is anything other than a war of aggression against a weaker neighbor.