When Saleh and family, including nephew Tareq Mohammad, appeared to recover control of #Yemen capital last Friday, his admirers, apologists immediately revived old praise for Saleh as a “smart” political survivor. This was most common view of Saleh in 1990s and 2000s. /1
But only in a country with dismally low standards of national politics would a leader like Saleh be praised as “smart.” In reality, Saleh practiced divide and rule politics that ruined any chance of unity in 1990s, while keeping Yemen mired in poverty. /2
Saleh always blamed poverty on someone else, rather than take responsibility himself. His record over the past six years, since 2011 Arab Spring, proved that he failed at every turn. Thus, there is no cause for admiring & apologizing for him. /3
The past six years are best understood as two 3-year cycles, 2011-2014 & 2014-2017, when Sanaa was turned upside down, as the “Old South” of country broke away and the “Old North” was destroyed by internal war, external bombs, and famine and disease. /4
In the first 3-year period, Saleh fought everyone in Sanaa and other #Yemen cities; nearly died in June’11 bombing; was forced to resign at end of year after convalescing in KSA. Then in ’12-’13, he focused on obstructing the national transition & dialogue. /5
In second 3-year period, Saleh assisted Huthi coup in ’14, after decades scheming how to use Huthi against his enemies. Once “transition/dialogue” ended in Jan’15, and GCC bombs began falling in Mar’15, Saleh fought beside Huthi from ’15 to ‘17. /6
Now in Dec’17, after the entire infrastructure of Old North Yemen is destroyed, while enduring the world’s worst humanitarian crisis, Saleh died after deciding to fight Huthi for control in Sanaa. How is this a sign of a “smart” political survivor? /7
Unfortunately, the darkest days of #Sanaa and far north of “Old North” are in the weeks and months ahead. The only possible bright spot is that there is greater chance for #Taiz and much of #Tihama to break the grip of Houthi forces. /8
The humanitarian disaster in #Yemen could only have been avoided if Saleh, along with UN, US, EU, had not enabled 2014 Huthi coup. Too many people rationalized Huthi’s role in 2011-14 transition as leverage against AQAP, Islah, Salafists. /9
The only thing the UN, US, EU did by enabling the Huthi was to destroy an already difficult transition process, revive old sectarian divisions inside the country, anger the Saudis outside the country, and unleash the current mess. /10

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