Sat. Mar 2nd, 2024

Yemen’s internationally recognised government has appointed Foreign Minister Ahmed Awad bin Mubarak as the new prime minister, succeeding Maeen Abdulmalik Saeed.

This decision comes at a critical juncture for the nation, grappling with escalating tensions fueled by recent Red Sea attacks by Houthi rebels on ships, triggering retaliatory strikes from the United States and the United Kingdom.

A decree issued on Monday by Yemen’s Presidential Leadership Council, as conveyed by the official Saba news agency, formally announced Bin Mubarak’s elevation to the position of premier. Simultaneously, the outgoing prime minister was reassigned to the role of presidential adviser, although the decree did not provide explicit reasons for the reshuffling.

Bin Mubarak, a former Yemeni ambassador to the US, gained prominence in 2015 when he was abducted by Houthi rebels during a power struggle with then-President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi. This incident contributed to a political crisis, leading to clashes between the Houthis and Hadi’s presidential guards, ultimately resulting in the resignation of the president and the government. Bin Mubarak further served as Yemen’s envoy to the United Nations in 2018.

Widely regarded as a staunch adversary of the Houthi rebels, Bin Mubarak is seen as one of the key figures behind the Saudi-led coalition’s intervention in 2015, aimed at supporting Yemen’s internationally recognised government. Mohammed Al-Basha, a Yemen expert from the US-based Navanti research group, notes that this appointment is likely to heighten tensions between the Houthis and the government, given Bin Mubarak’s longstanding opposition to the rebel group.

The Houthi rebels, part of the “axis of resistance,” have been targeting Red Sea shipping for months, prompting US and British reprisal attacks. With over 30 attacks on commercial and naval vessels since November 19, these actions have disrupted global maritime trade, leading some shipping companies to reroute around Southern Africa.

Bin Mubarak, in response, has urged the European Union to designate the Houthis as a “terrorist group” and has advocated for increased military support to government forces in light of the Red Sea attacks.

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