The Muslim Brotherhood has been working hard to get to the rule of Yemen since its founding at the hands of Hassan al-Banna in the 1920s. Yemen is especially important in the Brotherhood strategy, given its strategic location.
Yemeni capital Sana’a was the stage of the first Brotherhood attempt to take power in Yemen in 1948, when the Islamist group deposed then-Yemeni ruler Muhammad bin Yahya Hamid ad-Din and installed Abdullah bin al-Wazir instead of him.
This conspiracy failed, however, after a few days when Yemeni tribes overran Sana’a and killed the coup leaders.
The event rang the alarm in a number of Arab capitals and gave Arab rulers an insight into the plans of the Muslim Brotherhood at the time.
The Brotherhood reemerged as an influential force in Yemen yet again in the 1960s, when its members started taking up important positions in Yemeni institutions upon instructions from the mother organization in Egypt.
Egypt tightened the noose around the Brotherhood at the time, which was why the Islamist organization found in Yemen a good refuge where it could implement its own agenda.
Yemeni Congregation for Reform
When Ali Abdullah Saleh took over in Yemen, the Brotherhood started making overtures to him. They backed Saleh in his war against the communists in southern Yemen, helping him to reunite Yemen in 1990.
Saleh gave the Brotherhood space on the Yemeni political stage and allowed them to open schools and universities. The Brotherhood then founded the Yemeni Congregation for Reform, known in Yemen as (Al-Islah), to be their political arm in the country. The party was headed by Abdullah bin Hussein al-Ahmar, the chieftain of Hashid tribe.
Soon, however, Saleh and the Brotherhood became enemies, which was why the Brotherhood hammered out an alliance with the communists. In 2003, both groups formed what came to be known as the Joint Gathering.
The Brotherhood participated in the Yemeni revolution of 2011 which led to the overthrow of the Saleh regime. When Yemeni vice-president Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi took over, the Brotherhood seized the chance of the political change happening in Yemen by working to take up positions of power. This was, however, nullified as a move when the Iran-backed Houthi militia overran Yemeni cities and controlled the whole of Yemen on September 21, 2014.
Top Brotherhood figures
Mohamed Abdullah al-Yadomi
Al-Yadomi was born in the southwestern Yemeni city of Taiz in 1947. He worked as a security officer and then moved to Yemeni intelligence. He was promoted to colonel. He studied history at the University of Sana’a. In 1985, al-Yadomi quit police and founded the al-Sahwa newspaper, which became the mouthpiece of Yemen’s Brotherhood. He became the editor-in-chief of the newspaper in 1994.
Abdul Majeed al-Zindani
Al-Zindani is viewed by many as the godfather of the Muslim Brotherhood in Yemen. He headed the Consultative Council of the Yemeni Congregation for Reform. He was included in a list of wanted figures by the United States on charges of backing terrorism.
Abdo Mohamed al-Mekhlafi
Al-Mekhlafi is one of the historical figures of the Brotherhood in Yemen. He studied in Mecca for five years and contributed articles to Saudi newspapers. He then travelled to Port Said in Egypt and then to Cairo where he joined al-Azhar. He was, however, arrested on charges of joining the Brotherhood.
In Egypt, al-Mekhlafi met a number of Brotherhood figures, including Sayed Sabeq, Mohamed Qotb and Salah Abu Ismail.
He then returned to Yemen where he joined the Islamic Center in Taiz. He also worked as a teacher at one of the schools of the southwestern Yemeni city.