The Blog / December 2017

Le Beck analysts write in The Cairo Review about the conflict in Yemen

Regional Security Analyst (RSA) Team Lead Miriam Eps and RSA Intern Kierat Ranautta-Sambhi wrote about Yemen in the aftermath of former President Saleh’s death for The Cairo Review of Global Affairs.

“It is not clear, however, whether his death was a turning point. This still largely depends on Saleh’s former allies—the Houthis—and how they perceive their strategic and tactical position. On the one hand,  the collapse of the alliance impacted Houthi military capabilities and their upperhand position while Saleh’s assassination created an additional enemy from many of his supporters who are adhering to the alliance’s break. On the other hand, the Houthis are not without friends and they continue to receive external backing from Iran.

With Russia, one of the last diplomatic holdouts in Sanaa, recently moving its embassy to Riyadh due to the “deteriorating security situation” and Saleh’s son promising to destroy the Houthis, the needle seems to point more toward continued conflict than finding a political solution. However, because conflicts are tricky—and Yemen’s is particularly so—it is not impossible that Saleh’s death will, in fact, be a turning point that will help lead to a resolution rather than represent just another reason for the fighting to continue. So what happens next?

The worst case scenario will be to continue pursuing the military option. This will likely result in increased violence and an intensified campaign against the Houthis instead of a politically navigated path forward.”

Read the full oped here

The Iranian talks to Le Beck about Saleh’s death

It’s important to remember that Saleh dissolved the alliance with the Houthis days before his demise, with some suggesting the plan had been in play for months. Furthermore, Saleh’s son, Ahmed, although a somewhat divisive choice of potential successor, was reportedly involved in discussions of a deal with Saudi, which means that there is still a potential for such an agreement.

Given that the Houthis are faced with a significant loss of military might and, consequently, a vital bargaining chip, they may come to realise that negotiations are the way forward regardless. Nevertheless, they are likely to look even more to Iran should the conflict continue due to the loss of their Yemen-based ally and, potentially, in order to improve their bargaining power by, for example, solidifying their control over the capital.

Read the full article here

Bloomberg talks to Le Beck about Saleh’s death

“The big question related to Saleh’s death is who will take his place. A clear successor, with many pointing to his son Ahmed as a potential candidate, could allow for the continuity of Saleh’s position, including vis-a-vis any attempts at resolving the conflict,” said Miriam Eps, regional security analyst at Manama-based risk management consultancy Le Beck International.

In the short term, his death is likely to increase violence in Sana’a as Saleh forces will be looking to retaliate and the Houthis might attempt to retake areas of the capital lost in recent days, she said. Ultimately, the dissolution of the Houthis’ alliance with Saleh undermines their military might and their negotiating position, she said.

“Saleh’s death, therefore, is a major blow because it removes a key influencer, but the real question is how the Houthis intend to move forward,” she said. “Continued conflict is certainly an option, and they could turn to Iran for increased support, but they may also realize that the dissolution of their alliance means they have to negotiate.”

Read the full article here

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