Saudi Arabia blacklists Yemeni groups

Published on 13 March 2014 in News
Ali Ibrahim Al-Moshki (author)

Ali Ibrahim Al-Moshki


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SANA’A, March 10—The release on Friday of Saudi Arabia’s terrorist blacklist, which includes two Yemeni groups, has elicited a mixed response from regional parties. The Houthis and the Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated Islah Party have been placed on the list.

The Yemeni government has not yet commented on the Saudi move.  

The Yemen Times contacted leading Islah and Houthi figures, but they declined to give official statements on the Saudi decree. However, a leading Islah member, speaking on condition of anonymity, told the Yemen Times that “Saudi Arabia will change its decree soon because the situation in the Arab World is already conflicted and can’t afford more disagreement.”

“We prefer not to comment on the decree and others also should not comment because there are millions of Yemenis in Saudi Arabia and they may be affected by such a thing,” he added.

The source said that Islah should not have been slapped with a blacklisting because the organization has a legal and constitutional background.

The Islah Party, established on Sept. 13, 1990 by the late tribal sheikh Abdulla Bin Hussein Al-Ahmar, is the second largest political party in Yemen after the General People’s Congress (GPC). Mohammed Abdulla Al-Yadomi became head of the party following Al-Ahmar’s death on Dec. 28, 2007.

Ali Al-Bukhaiti, a journalist associated with the Houthis, said “the Houthis do not pose any threat to Saudi Arabia or the Gulf countries to warrant being blacklisted.”

“The Saudi regime has internal problems and is trying to deflect problems to external powers,” Al-Bukhaiti said.

The political-wing of the Houthis, Ansar Allah, is a political and religious movement positioned mainly in Sa’ada. It was founded by Hussein Badr Al-Deen Al-Houthi who was killed by the military in 2004.

Local media have given varied responses to the Saudi blacklist. Al-Ola and Al-Sharia, two newspapers associated with former President Ali Abdulla Saleh, published photos of several Islah figures who they claim are now considered terrorists by Sauidi Arabia.

 But the Islah-aligned Al-Sahwa newspaper claimed that Islah is not blacklisted as it was not specifically named. The blacklist includes the Muslim Brotherhood but does not specify Islah, which is widely seen to be the Yemeni branch of the Brotherhood.

GPC spokesperson Abdo Al-Janadi said in a Sunday statement published in the Kuwait-based Al-Seyasya newspaper that Sana’a should follow the steps taken by Riyadh and Cairo and declare Yemen’s Muslim Brotherhood a “terror group.”

Saudi Arabia also blacklisted Al-Qaeda, Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), Al-Qaeda in Yemen, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, the Hezbollah Party in Saudi Arabia, Al-Nusra Front, the Muslim Brotherhood and Al-Houthi, as well as organizations linked to or espousing the ideologies of the aforementioned groups.

Saudi Arabia gave a 15-day grace period for Saudi citizens associated with the outlawed groups to renounce their affiliation to the groups and return to Saudi Arabia.

Saudi residents involved in armed conflicts outside the kingdom are liable to 3-20 years imprisonment, according to a royal decree issued by the Saudi authorities on Feb. 3.

The same penalty applies to whoever supports or adopts the ideology and beliefs of these groups or even expresses sympathy for them, according to the decree.