Yemen Houthi leaders divided over Riyadh talks

Houthi followers shout slogans during a demonstration to show support to the movement, and rejecting foreign interference in Yemen's internal affairs, in Sanaa March 13, 2015. (Reuters)

Houthi leaders are divided over transferring the Yemeni national dialogue to the Saudi capital Riyadh, Yemeni sources revealed to Al Arabiya News Channel.

While the majority of Houthi rebels object to Houthi participation in the Riyadh talks and reject any change in venue for the talks, a moderate group of Houthi leaders is open to taking part in the talks.

Attending the meeting in Riyadh would enable the Houthis to gain regional and international recognition, and would drop their name from the terrorist organizations list that Saudi Arabia released in 2013, some in the Houthi political council suggested to top leader Abdelmalik al-Houthi, according to sources.

President Abderabbo Mansour Hadi, who has resumed power from second city Aden in the south after escaping from house arrest in Sanaa last month, has proposed the talks move to neighboring Saudi Arabia.

The six Sunni-dominated Gulf Cooperation Council members agreed to that request last Monday but have not set a date for the meeting.

A former Houthi leader, Ali al-Beikheiti, warned the Houthis against facing the fate that of late Iraqi president Saddam Hussein.

“Saddam Hussein was made to believe that his army was the third or fourth strongest army in the world. Today, the Houthis became arrogant….and began to throw threats here and there,” said al-Bekheiti.

“Their threats are no longer targeting their opponents inside only, but extended to include some Gulf states; with Saudi Arabia on top of the list,” he added.

Thousands of Houthi fighters held military exercises near the border with top oil exporter and Sunni power Saudi Arabia on Thursday.

Al-Bekheiti warned against escalating the situation with Saudi Arabia and Gulf states, which are demonstrating “flexibility” in dealing with the Houthis.

“This escalation is not logical and does not fit with the self-defense politics the movement claims to work with,” he said.

This escalation, if continued, would be interpreted as a plan targeting the gulf states, and mainly Saudi Arabia, and backed by another player, al-Bekheiti added.

“This will prove the accusations made against Ansarullah concerning the Houthis Iran’s right arm in Yemen.”

In another sign of turmoil spreading on Thursday, three people were killed in a gunfight between militiamen loyal to Western-backed President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi and a rival camp in the southern port city of Aden

Elsewhere in the south, Houthis opened fire on hundreds of people protesting at their presence in the city of al-Bayda on, killing one and wounding eight others, local officials and medical sources said.

Western and regional powers are particularly concerned about the security situation in Yemen because of its proximity to
Saudi Arabia and the presence of one of al Qaeda’s most active wings.

Saudi Arabia, which says the Houthis are controlled by rival Shi’ite power Iran and has attacked their forces before, did not comment on news of the military drill. Tehran denies any such support.

Qatari Foreign Minister Khaled al-Attiya, speaking after a GCC meeting in Riyadh, said the members of the organization had “enough capability to protect its territories and sovereignty”.

“A move here and there would not affect the GCC states,” Attiya told a news conference.

The drill in the al-Buqa region in the Houthis’ home province of Saada included heavy weapons acquired from the Yemeni army, local tribal and Houthi sources said.

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Last Update: Wednesday, 20 May 2020 KSA 09:46 - GMT 06:46
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