Internationally-recognised President of Yemen Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi (right), and ousted president Ali Abdullah Saleh Image Credit: File

Al Mukalla: The internationally-recognised President of Yemen, Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi, has hailed a military uprising led by ousted president Ali Abdullah Saleh against the Iran-backed Al Houthi militia.

At a meeting with his advisers in Riyadh on Saturday, Hadi said his government would support military activities that lead to the defeat of Al Houthi militants and the foiling of Iranians designs in Yemen.

This came as aircraft from the Saudi-led coalition bombed Al Houthi militia positions in Sana’a overnight on Sunday.

In a statement carried by the state-run Saba news agency, Hadi decried Al Houthis’ “criminal” actions, including storming of houses, mosques and seizure of state facilities.

Al Houthi fighters patrol a street in the Yemeni capital Sanaa on December 3, 2017, during clashes with supporters of Yemeni ex-president Ali Abdullah Saleh. - AFP


Without mentioning Saleh, Hadi said his government was ready to turn a new page with political forces in Al Houthi-held areas provided they abide by the three reference points: the outcomes of the National Dialogue, the GCC initiative and the UN Security Council resolution 2216 that all recognise Hadi as the legitimate leader of Yemen.

Meanwhile, in the capital, fighting raged between Al Houthis and ousted president’s forces on Sunday amid reports that Al Houthis had brought military reinforcements from Sa’ada, their main bastion.

Quoting medical sources, local media reports said on Sunday that dozens of people had been killed in the fighting that spread to almost all districts of the capital.

Al Houthi militants on Saturday stormed Yemen Today TV, the mouthpiece of Saleh’s party, and seized journalists.

To secure the release of journalists, forces loyal to Saleh were sent to the area, setting off heavy clashes with Al Houthis, who have sheltered inside the TV building.

Military experts have warned the coalition and Hadi’s government against underestimating Al Houthis’ power, noting that Saleh would not be able to win without military help from them.

Ebrahim Al Marie, a Saudi colonel and a security analyst, said the Saudi-led coalition should hit Al Houthi targets in Sana’a, and that government forces in Marib and Nehim, just outside Sana’a, should step up attacks to ease pressure on Saleh’s forces in Sana’a.

“It will be a mistake to underestimate Al Houthis’ regrouping abilities,” Al Marie said on his official twitter feed, warning that Al Houthis might regain control of areas that they lost in the last couple of days if the Saudi-led coalition did not intervene in support of Saleh’s forces.

Al Marie said that when Saleh takes control of Sana’a or other provinces, he would have to recognise the UN Security Council-mandated obligation that rebel groups in Yemen hand over cities to Hadi’s government.

The Saudi-led coalition’s military operations in Yemen will continue if he did not allow the legitimate government to return to Sana’a, Al Marie warned.