Saudi says keen to see Yemen free of Houthis
Saudi Arabia, in its first official comment after former Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh’s death, said on Dec. 5 it is keen for its neighbour to return to its Arab fold, state news agency SPA reported citing a cabinet statement.
The cabinet statement did not mention Saleh by name, but said Saudi Arabia hoped that the armed move he made against the Iran-aligned Houthis would “help rid sisterly Yemen of repression, death threats, ... explosions and seizure of private and public property”.
Saleh, who ruled Yemen for 33 years, was for decades an ally of Saudi Arabia before joining ranks with the Shiite Huthis in 2014.
Saleh’s ties to the rebels, strained for months, were dealt a major blow on Dec. 2 when he announced he was again open to talks with Saudi Arabia and its allies, who had been fighting the Saleh-Huthi camp for nearly three years.
Iran -- which Riyadh accuses of arming the Huthis -- yesterday also said Yemen would fight back against “aggressors,” a jab at Saudi Arabia.
Meanwhile, the son of Saleh has called for revenge against the Houthi movement, Saudi-owned al-Ekbariya TV reported yesterday.
The intervention by the exiled Ahmed Ali Saleh, if confirmed, could shift the balance of power yet again after a dramatic week.
Yemen’s war, pitting the Iran-allied Houthis who control Sanaa against a Saudi-led military alliance backing a government based in the south, has led to what the United Nations calls the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.
Yemen’s capital Sanaa was quiet yesterday after five days of fighting and 25 air strikes overnight, and U.N. and Red Cross aid flights had landed at the airport, U.N. humanitarian coordinator in Yemen Jamie McGoldrick said.
The Red Cross said more than 230 people were killed and hundreds wounded in the week’s fighting in Sanaa.