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Yemen rebel rift opens door to Saudi-brokered peace: ICG

Saleh and Al Houthi accuse each other of treason as alliance stands on shaky ground

Gulf News

Dubai: A rift in Yemen’s rebel camp has opened the door for Saudi Arabia to mediate in a conflict that has claimed thousands of lives, the International Crisis Group said on Wednesday.

In a report, ICG said Saudi Arabia and its allies — including the US and Britain — should move fast to “capitalise on a division that they have encouraged”.

It said they should turn the political rift between Yemeni strongman Ali Abdullah Saleh and his Al Houthi allies into a ceasefire and ensure the rebels cut all ties with Iran.

“The timing is ripe but the opportunity easily could slip away,” ICG said.

In May, cracks in the awkward Al Houthi-Saleh alliance started to show.

Saleh asked the media loyal to him to discredit Al Houthi militia leader Abdul Malek Al Houthi and expose him, reports Saudi Press Agency (SPA).

In August, street clashes emerged between Saleh and Al Houthi loyalists in an unprecedented escalation of violence between the allies.

A colonel loyal to Saleh and two rebels were killed in the fighting.

The two leaders accused each other of treason, with Saleh hinting his allies were merely “a militia” and the rebels warning the former president he would “bear the consequences” of the insult.

Al Houthis reportedly suspect Saleh has been negotiating with a Saudi-led military coalition that supports the Yemeni government.

Saleh, meanwhile, is said to be displeased with Al Houthis’ newfound power in the capital, where they run a number of key offices.