Yemen's Saleh Calls for 'New Page' in Relations with Saudi-led Coalition

03 December, 2017, 00:25 | Author: Brenda Erickson
  • Smoke billows behind a building in the Yemeni capital Sanaa on Sunday during clashes between Houthi rebels and supporters of Yemeni ex-president Ali Abdullah Saleh

Tensions between the Houthi and Saleh's party rose Wednesday after Saleh's supporters refused access of the Houthis to the Saleh Mosque in the south of Sanaa to secure a religious ceremony to commemorate birthday of Prophet Muhammad.

In a televised address, Saleh called for new relations with the Saudi-led coalition, which he and the Houthis have been battling for nearly three years (since March 2015).

"I call on our brothers in neighbouring countries ... to stop their aggression and lift the blockade ... and we will turn the page", Mr Saleh said in a televised speech on Saturday, according to Agence France-Presse.

Rajah Badie, spokesman for the internationally recognized Yemeni government in exile in Riyadh, told Saudi-owned al-Arabiya TV that his forces "call on all Yemenis to support the uprising (being led by Saleh)", and that the uprising "spells the end of Iranian meddling in the country".

"We vow to our brothers and neighbours that, after a ceasefire is in place and the blockade is lifted. we will hold dialogue directly through the legitimate authority represented by our parliament".

Former president Saleh and the Yemeni military fought the Houthi rebels five times from 2005 to 2014, before becoming allies after the Saudi-led coalition took military action in March 2015 to restore President Hadi to power, who had been ousted and imprisoned by the Houthis.

"We will deal with them in a positive way and what happened to Yemen is enough", he added.

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The Houthi chief also accused Saleh of secret collaboration with the leaders of the coalition.

"Disagreements (between the two sides) can be settled through negotiation, and invaders and enemies will get the most out of the sedition", he said, urging Saleh to abandon such "irresponsible" and "suspicious" moves.

Residents of Sanaa described heavy fighting on the streets of Hadda, a southern residential district of the Yemeni capital where many of Saleh's relatives, including his nephew Tareq, live, early on Saturday, with sounds of explosions and gunfire heard all over the area. There has been no official word on casualties but the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said that dozens were killed and hundreds were wounded in the fighting.

Abdel-Malek al-Houthi, the leader of the rebels, called on Saleh to "show more wisdom and maturity" in a separate statement.

It also called on supporters, including tribal fighters, to "defend themselves, their country, their revolution and their republic".

Saudi Arabia has been locked in a fight with the Houthi rebels since it joined the Yemen war in 2015.

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