Arab Coalition Joins Saleh in Call Against Houthis in Yemen

Updated on
  • Saleh said Yemeni people must “defend their republic”
  • Former Yemeni president asked Saudis to stop air strikes

The Saudi-led Arab coalition has backed calls by former Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh to rise against Shiite Houthi rebels.

The coalition urged all Yemenis, including members of Saleh’s General People’s Congress party, to unite to defeat the Houthis, according to a statement on the state-run Saudi Press Agency.

Ali Abdullah Saleh

Photographer: Mohammed Huwais/AFP via Getty Images

“Restoring initiative by the members of the General People’s Congress party and their alliance with Yemeni people will allow Yemen to get rid of the evils of the sectarian Iranian terrorist militias,” the coalition said in the statement.

This follows a speech by Saleh earlier on Saturday in which he said Yemeni people must “defend their republic” against the Houthis, who control parts of the country in a coalition with him. He urged the Saudis, who back the former government, to stop their air strikes and lift all blockades.

A breakup of Saleh’s alliance with the Houthis would be a blow to the Iran-backed Shiite rebels and benefit the Saudi Arabia-led coalition in its attempts to reinstate the government of ousted elected President Abdurabu Mansur Hadi.

Fighting between Saleh’s supporters and Houthi rebels intensified over the past three days as both sides exchanged accusations of aggression. Houthi rebel leader Abdulmalik al-Houthi described Saleh’s call as “treason to the country and a stab in the back” in a speech broadcast on al-Masirah TV on Saturday.

Saudi Arabia intercepted a ballistic missile fired from Yemen Friday, which it said was a threat to regional and international security.

Escalating violence could drive Yemen, a nation only reunited in 1990, to completely disintegrate, becoming a failed state perched south of the world’s biggest oil exporter and a major maritime artery.

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