Turkey freezes assets of Yemeni ex-president Saleh

Turkey freezes assets of Yemeni ex-president Saleh

Turkey freezes assets of Yemeni ex-president Saleh

Supporters of Yemen's former President Ali Abdullah Saleh climb pillars of the Unknown Soldier Monument during a rally marking one year of Saudi-led air strikes in Yemen's capital Sanaa March 26, 2016 -REUTERS photo

Turkey freezes assets of Yemeni ex-president Ali Abdullah Saleh, while the U.N.-backed peace talks to solve the armed clashes in Yemen, which were scheduled to start on April 21 after an initial postponement, was postponed once again. 

Turkey has frozen the assets of former Saleh, in line with a decision by the U.N. Security Council, the government said in its Official Gazette on April 21. 

All of Saleh’s assets in Turkish banks and other financial institutions were frozen, it said. It did not say how much money Saleh was believed to hold in Turkey. 

U.N.-appointed investigators have told the Security Council they suspect Saleh of amassing as much as $60 billion, equivalent to Yemen’s annual GDP, during his long rule, and colluding in a takeover by the Houthi militia in 2014. 

Most of this wealth was believed to have been transferred abroad under false names or the names of others holding the assets on his behalf, the investigators have said. 

The assets were in the form of property, cash, shares, gold and other valuable commodities, and were believed to spread across at least 20 countries. 

Saleh, who is head of Yemen’s largest party, the General People’s Congress, enjoys the loyalty of sections of the armed forces despite having stepped down from office nearly four years ago after months of protests. He later emerged as ally of the Iran-backed Houthi Shiite fighters. 

Majority Sunni Turkey is allied with Saudi Arabia in Yemen, where forces loyal to Yemen’s Saudi-backed president are fighting the Houthis.

Meanwhile, peace talks between Yemen’s warring factions were on hold pending the arrival of rebel representatives to the U.N.-backed negotiations in Kuwait, diplomats told AFP on April 21.

The talks were initially scheduled to start on April 18, and any further delay could dash hopes of ending Yemen’s war after the government delegation threatened to pull out if meetings did not begin immediately.

“According to the latest information, the rebel delegation should arrive in Kuwait by the end of the day,” said one diplomat close to the talks.

“As a result, the talks could be delayed further until April 22,” another diplomat said.

On April 20, U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric said negotiations would begin in Kuwait on April 21.

The rebels only agreed to join the talks after they said they received assurances from the United Nations that pro-government forces would respect a ceasefire which has been violated by warring parties since it came into effect on April 11.