US Insists Hadi Is Only Legitimate Government in Yemen

Officials say Houthis must be 'dealt with'

Yemen’s Arab Spring uprisings culminated in a bizarre election endorsed by the US and the UN. The February 2012 “election,” such as it was, saw Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi running uncontested in a vote for a 2-year term in office. The vote only allowed a “yes” answer, and unsurprisingly Hadi claimed 100% support.

Not exactly a free election, but this is the sole basis on which Hadi can claim a political mandate. When his two-year term failed to pass an election law, he unilaterally extended his term another year, and so on. A decade later, Hadi still claims to be president, even though he’s never run for election again.

This is what the Yemen War is based upon, with Houthis and others rejecting Hadi’s right to extend his rule, and the Saudis invading explicitly to reinstall Hadi as the “UN-recognized” government.

The US has broadly accepted this narrative, which makes sense because they endorsed installing Hadi in the first place. The US continues to maintain that Hadi can be the only legitimate government, based on a shady election and a long-expired term in office.

The US went on to recognize the Houthis as ‘real political actors” who need to be dealt with. They did not necessarily give support to any of the Houthis’ demands, like free elections, which the Hadi government have long rejected.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is senior editor of