Turkey’s growing presence in Yemen, particularly in the resting southern region, is fueling region-wide concern about security in the Aden Gulf and Bab el-Mandeb.
These issues are further compounded by allegations that Qatar is funding and promoting Turkey ‘s agenda in Yemen through some Yemeni political and tribal figures associated with the Muslim Brotherhood. They are suspected to aim at blackmailing the Arab-led coalition by establishing a Turkish challenge in the world and forming a new alliance including both Qatar and Oman.
Turkey has been walking carefully in Yemen so far, apparently waiting for a good moment to intervene and hoping for more support from Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi’s Yemeni government before moving on the ground.
According to anonymous sources in the country, cautious and virtually concealed, Turkish activity in Yemen is currently concentrated in three Yemeni coastal areas: Shabwa, Socotra and Al-Mukha district in the governorate of Taiz.
In previous news, The Arab Weekly highlighted the existence of Turkish intelligence elements in the Shabwa governorate under the cover of the Turkish Humanitarian Relief Organization (IHH), which has been operating in the province since it came under Muslim Brotherhood rule in August.
Muslim brotherhood in Yemen
The growing influence of the Muslim Brotherhood on Shabwa coincided with increased hostility to the Arab-led coalition in south-western Yemen’s Al Al Alam area, which has recently been the target of repeated mortar attacks. It is believed that the attacks seek to cut off food and medical services, ultimately pushing multinational forces deployed there to flee.
Once the area of Al Al Alam is under control, the Muslim Brotherhood hopes to reach the strategic port of Balhaf, gain leverage over critical gas exports and much-needed access to the coast that overlooks the Arab Sea. A key gateway to any potential Turkish intervention and the shipment of crucial supplies from Turkish military bases in nearby Somalia.
In addition to suspicious activity in Taiz and Shabwa, with the help of Socotra Governor Ramzi Mahrous, reports point to Turkish efforts to raise tensions. Following Mahrous’ return from a secret visit to Istanbul. During which he met with Turkish and Qatari intelligence officers and Muslim Brotherhood leaders. Tensions have reportedly escalated.
The developments mean that Turkey has taken on a greater political role in southern Yemen through the local Muslim Brotherhood branch of the country. It is helping Turkish charities gain influence.
“The party of Islah (Reform) is instrumental in giving access to Yemeni cities to Turkish institutions and the Turkish government. All masquerading as charities”. Yemeni political analyst Mahmud al-Tahir stated.
“Turkey has an interest in encouraging and giving the Muslim Brotherhood more power on the Yemeni stage.”
Iran is also in the picture
The Reform Party, the local branch of the Muslim Brotherhood, appeared in 1990. It has played an important role in the political scene of the region. In recent years, the party has gained more power. It’s filling a political vacuum left by the February 2012 downfall of the
Ali Abdullah Saleh regime, and then by a March 2015 coup staged by the Iran-backed Houthi militia against Hadi.
Prime Minister Maeen Abdulmalik Saeed ‘s government, which is based in Aden’s south-eastern port city, represents the Party.
Brotherhood associated officials and ministers have made trips to Ankara. To lobby officials with the Justice and Development Party (AKP) of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. In order to be more involved in Yemen. Especially by investing in the country’s transportation sectors and ports. Turkey ‘s deputy interior minister, Ismail Catakli, visited Aden in mid-January and held talks with Saeed. He announced Erdogan had requested an aid team to prepare a report on humanitarian needs in Yemen.
That came two months after former Yemeni Minister of Transport Saleh al-Jabwani, a member of the Reform Party. He visited Turkey to discuss collaboration in maintaining Yemeni ports.
Turkey wants El-Mandeb
Turkey’s efforts to increase its presence near the Bab El-Mandeb Strait. Through which Gulf oil is moving before it reaches the Suez Canal. They will threaten the security of Arab Gulf states.
Unlike Turkey, Qatar and somehow Iran, Some countries are trying to counter this. To ensure the return of stability to the region. The US, for example, has been doing a noticeable effort. It’s trying to bring back the gulf countries to the negotiating table. UAE and Egypt on the other hand, are trying to stop the terrorist groups located in Yemen, Syria and Somalia. To ensure peace in the middle east.
Turkey’s efforts to increase its presence near the Bab El-Mandeb Strait are part of a wider campaign. To strengthen its influence at the Red Sea ‘s southern entrance.
Ankara is working hard to become a power in the Red Sea with a naval base in Djibouti. Persistent attempts to establish a foothold in Somalia and the Sudanese Red Sea island of Suakin.