Yemen: the Supreme Political Council (SPC) tries to build its legitimacy

Saleh al-Sammad, the head of Yemen’s Supreme Political Council

The Supreme Political Council (SPC) — the executive body formed in July 2016 by the Huthis and the General People’s Congress (GPC) — presents itself as Yemen’s legitimate government, even though no single country has recognised it. Saleh al-Samad, who has had his term as the rotating head of the SPC extended for four months, issues decrees, the cabinet meets, and ministers issue orders. Underneath, however, the SPC seems just as dysfunctional as the President Hadi’s internationally recognised government. The ministries lack resources and Huthi representatives often interfere with the work of some of them.

The formation of the SPC has improved relations between former president Ali Abdullah Saleh and the Huthis, although rumours of tension between them continue. Saleh’s power has been increasing in the last three months as was shown by his appointment of his nephew Yahya Mohamed Abdullah Saleh (b.1965) — the former chief of Staff of the Central Security Forces — to the ruling committee of the GPC. Saleh has also recently been more visible and has again made it clear that he regards the 2011 transition process as over, along with the concept of a federal state. He insists that any peace talks must be with the SPC and not directly with the Huthis.