Extremism must not prevail

Death of Yemen’s Sheikh Rawi shows why the war against extremism must continue

ISIL and Al Qaeda are both expanding their presence in Yemen, to the obvious, demonstrable detriment of Yemenis and Yemeni society. EPA
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The murder of Yemen’s leading Salafi cleric Samahan Abdel Aziz, also known as Sheikh Rawi, after he delivered a sermon denouncing Al Qaeda and ISIL highlights, yet again, the danger of these extremist groups. They attack free speech, allowing no discussion or view outside their own twisted vision.

It also highlights how badly the Houthi rebels and their nefarious alliance with ex-president Ali Abdullah Saleh have affected the country.

It was precisely to stop this sort of collapse that the Saudi-led coalition went to Yemen. The chaos that the Houthi rebels have sown has ensured that the central government cannot control large parts of the country – and certainly cannot focus on anything other than restoring stability.

This is the real crime of the Houthis. Seeking power for themselves and their Iranian backers, they have happily allowed a situation where the worst elements of radicalism can flourish. Al Qaeda and ISIL are both expanding their presence in the country, to the obvious, demonstrable detriment of Yemenis and Yemeni society.

The mission is far from over, neither in the country nor in Aden itself. Even though government forces and Emirati troops seized Aden from Houthi rebels last July, Al Qaeda and ISIL continue to carry out bombings and assassinations in the city and endanger the lives of civilians.

The war in Yemen will have to continue until the country is free and secure from terrorism. The Yemeni people are currently in the crossfire between Al Qaeda and ISIL in one hand and the Iran-backed Houthis, who, in addition to their serious violations of international humanitarian law, have been even accused by Human Rights Watch of confiscating humanitarian aid intended to help civilians in the besieged city of Taez. This is clear proof of their ruthless approach and their disregard of the lives of civilians. A look at the tortured body of Sheikh Rawi should provide an answer to the question: what type of Yemen do the Houthis want?