Split in Rebel Yemeni Coalition, as Ex President Saleh Seeks Peace with Saudis

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Yemen’s Ansarullah movement has accused former President Ali Abdullah Salih of staging a coup, after he said he was open to talks with Saudi Arabia.

Former Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh
Former Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh said on Saturday he was ready for a “new page” in relations with the Saudi-led coalition fighting in Yemen if it stopped attacks on his country. (Photo: © Khaled Abdullah / Reuters)


Amid a growing problem of malnutrition and cholera outbreaks caused by the Saudi-led war on Yemen, the two branches of the northern Yemeni government have split and are fighting one another.

Former president Ali Abdullah Saleh, who was forced to resign as a result of a year-long set of protests 2011-2012, had allied with the Houthis as a way of regaining some of his lost authority.

However, ex President Saleh spoke on Saturday in a live TV address to slam the Houthi militia amid fierce battles between his loyalists and the Iran-backed militia that could affect the course of the civil war.

Saleh called for a joint ceasefire to be agreed on by his loyalists and the Houthi militia.

But his call fell on deaf ears as clashes entered fourth day and streets of the capital Sanna littered with bodies and burned out military vehicles.

The clashes between Saleh’s supporters and the Houthis underscore the complex situation in Yemen, where a proxy war between the Iran-aligned Houthis and the Saudi-backed Hadi has caused one of the worst humanitarian catastrophes in recent times.

“The people have revolted against Houthi aggression,” he said.

Saleh urged an end to “militia rule on Yemeni land,” adding that Houthis had continued their “provocative acts against Yemeni citizens.”

He also demanded that armed Yemeni forces refrain from taking any orders from the Houthi militia, and called for “opening a new page with neighboring countries.”

“I call upon the brothers in neighboring states and the alliance to stop their aggression, lift the siege, open the airports and allow food aid and the saving of the wounded and we will turn a new page by virtue of our neighborliness,” Saleh said in a televised speech.

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

Earlier, Saleh’s General People’s Congress (GPC) party, accused the Houthis of failing to honor the truce and said in a statement on its website that the Houthis bear responsibility for dragging the country into a civil war.

It also called on supporters, including tribal fighters, to “defend themselves, their country, their revolution and their republic…”

The GPC appealed to the army and security forces to remain neutral in the conflict.

The Houthis’ Ansarullah group, in a statement issued on its Twitter account, described the clashes as “regrettable.”

“It is happening in coordination with it,” referring to the Saudi-led coalition.

The fighting began on Wednesday when Saleh’s GPC party accused the Houthis of breaking into the city’s main mosque complex and firing RPGs and grenades.

* Al Arabia and Reuters contributed to the story.