Making it less and less clear what Saudi Arabia’s ultimate intentions in the Yemen War are at this point, reports out of Riyadh say that the “Saudi-backed” Yemeni government is effectively under house arrest within the Saudi capital, and being actively prevented from returning to southern Yemen.
Saudi Arabia invaded Yemen in 2015, vowing to reinstall President Hadi, who had previously resigned, and whose term in office had long since run out. After Saudi forces captured the southern coast of Yemen, they made a big show of sending Hadi and other officials from his “government-in-exile” to the port city of Aden, making it a “temporary capital” of Yemen.
Hadi’s been falling out of favor, however, particularly with Saudi allies in the United Arab Emirate, who don’t like how many of his political allies are linked with the Muslim Brotherhood. UAE forces have taken over a growing number of places in the south, though to what end isn’t totally clear.
Either way, Hadi came back to Saudi Arabia for meetings in February, and he’s not been allowed to go back to Yemen since. Though the Saudis never officially detained him, in August he went to the airport intent on buying a ticket to fly back to Aden, and was rebuffed. The rest of his family, and all cabinet members within Riyadh, are similarly being kept from flying back to Yemen.
Saudi officials say they aren’t confident Hadi would be safe in southern Yemen, but this has apparently been the case for nearly an entire year now, and it’s increasingly doubtful they intend on ever letting him back into Yemen, raising questions of what Yemen is going to look like in the long term, especially if the Saudis continue to maintain it will be “ruled” by Hadi.