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Ahmed Awad bin Mubarak: The previous foreign minister is considered a sharp critic of the Houthi militia

Photo: Jalal Morchidi / EPA

A surprising development in Yemen: The internationally recognized government appointed the previous Foreign Minister Ahmed Awad bin Mubarak as the new Prime Minister on Monday.

Bin Mubarak replaces Maeen Abdulmalik Saeed. He was appointed presidential advisor, as the official Saba news agency reported with reference to the Yemeni Presidential Council. A reason for the move was not given.

The change comes against the backdrop of increasing tensions in the poorest country on the Arabian Peninsula. Following attacks by the Iranian-backed Houthi militia on merchant ships in the Red Sea, the US and Britain have carried out several retaliatory attacks in Yemen in recent days.

Since November, the Houthis have attacked numerous ships in the Gulf of Aden

Bin Mubarak, who was formerly Yemen's ambassador to the United States, is considered an opponent of the Houthi militia and was kidnapped by the militants in 2015 and held captive for several days. In 2018, the diplomat was appointed Yemen's ambassador to the UN.

According to Yemen expert Mohammed Al-Basha, Mubarak is considered one of the "architects of the Saudi-led coalition" that took action against the Houthis in 2015 to support the internationally recognized government - a year after the militia captured the capital Sanaa .

"It is unlikely that the Houthis will welcome the appointment of bin Mubarak," said the expert from the US-based research group Navanti. The change will "likely further exacerbate tensions between the Houthis and the internationally recognized government," he added.

Since mid-November, the Houthis in Yemen have attacked numerous ships in the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden that they accuse of having ties to Israel. The militia sees itself as part of the self-proclaimed “Axis of Resistance” directed against Israel, to which the radical Islamic Hamas in the Gaza Strip also belongs. In response to the attacks, the US and Britain attacked Houthi positions in Yemen.