SANA’A – Despite the official “alliance” between the regime of former Yemeni president Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi and the Saudi kingdom, Riyadh has not hesitated to put severe pressure on its Yemeni “allies” to help solve internal and domestic Saudi trouble.
According to officials in the Hadi regime in Saudi Arabia, the Saudi government has pressured the former president into accepting a deal that would see 30,000 stateless inhabitants of Saudi Arabia, the so-called Bedoon population granted Yemeni citizenship and nationality.
The Bedoon are nomad people who have roamed the deserts and oases of the Arab peninsula for centuries, but have often stayed on the fringes of modern society. When modern Arab states were, often very artificially, formed in the course of the 20th century, they often fell out of the boat when it came to officialising citizenship and nationality. As many of their ancestors fail to register nationality in the newly created Arab states such as Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait, their descendants are still often without papers, registration documents or even officially licensed identities.
This has led to severe discrimination in all official fields of life, forcing the Bedoon into a role of outcasts in their own land, often without possibility to receive official education, housing, necessary licenses and even healthcare. The government of the United Arab Emirates has even resorted to purchasing passports from the island nation of the Comoros, just to avoid granting them equal rights. It is estimated that Saudi Arabia counts as many as 70,000 Bedoon inhabitants, but the government has shown no intention of changing its policy towards them.
Instead, officials in Hadi’s ruling clique say that Riyadh is planning to “export” the issue to Yemen, with Saudi foreign ministry officials, represented by Abdul Malik al-Makhlafi, handing over more than 30,000 Yemeni passports to the displaced Bedoon tribes in Saudi Arabia. The ministry allegedly declared that henceforth these Bedoon would be registered as Yemeni citizens, whether or not they would actually move there.
Sources also indicate a lot of unease amongst Hadi supporters regarding the move, as well as fears that Saudi Arabia would have similar designs for the remaining 40,000 Bedoon. The question haunting many, even amongst Hadi’s inner circle, is this: to what extent will the Saudi kingdom keep using Yemen as an easy way to solve its own problems?