The Muslim Brotherhood linked Al-Islah Party is on the rise in Yemen. Al-Islah is taking advantage of the instability to amass as much political control as possible. The party has positioned themselves as an important player in the war forming its own militias and playing a dominate role in the so called “Popular Resistance.”
Its strength has been growing in cities such as Taiz, Aden, Beihan, Ab Dali and Marib. Taiz in particular is now under effective occupation by Al-Islah’s Islamist militias. The Aden based government of President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi has been unable or unwilling to effectively respond to the danger posed by Al-Islah. Hadi seems set on attempting to appease the group to garner its cooperation. He even recently handed over the governorship of Taiz to Ali al-Maamari a move that was emphatically welcomed by Al-Islah supporters.
Hadi is desperate for manpower and seems more often than not to be delegating power to Al-Islah and counting on them to bolster his forces. One of Al-Islah’s leading figures Major General Ali Mohsen al Ahmar has emerged as one of Hadi’s top field commanders.
Hadi’s government has also announced this week that they will start incorporating Al-Islah fighters into their official army. This will surely give Al-Islah even further legitimacy and leverage within Hadi’s government. In addition to its growing influence within Yemen, Al-Islah’s regional support is expanding. Qatar and Turkey see the party as their ideological partner and are assisting the groups actives.
The Saudis are providing aid and coordinating their air operations with the party. Saudi Arabia’s deceased King Abdullah had been distrustful of the Muslim Brotherhood but the new ruler Salman appears to have warmed up to them. Even Egypt seems to be coming around as its recently deployed troops to Yemen and are now fighting side by side with the organization.
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el Sisi, who is vehemently anti-Brotherhood at home, has been under increased pressure from Saudi Arabia to make peace with the Brotherhood, Turkey and Al-Islah. This situation leaves Hadi in an even more isolated position with his supporters in Yemen and his external backers looking elsewhere. He is in danger of becoming nothing more than a figure head of Al-Islah. A day may even come when Al-Islah decides to make a power grab for themselves and simply remove Hadi. This is extremely worrying given the groups connections to Al-Qaeda and extremist figures such as Abdul al-Zindani. A takeover by Al-Islah and the Muslim Brotherhood could be disastrous for not only the people of Yemen but the region as a whole.
Joseph Wembly contributed this article.