Ali Abdullah Saleh Image Credit: AP

Al Mukalla: Succumbing to pressure from Al Houthi militants, Yemen’s ousted president, Ali Abdullah Saleh, vehemently attacked Saudi Arabia, the internationally-recognised president, and international resolutions. He said he would continue to obstruct the return of his successor, Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi.

Saleh said in a recorded speech broadcast on his TV station on Monday night that he does not acknowledge the UN Security Council Resolution, the outcomes of the National Dialogue Conference that divided the country into semi-autonomous regions, and parts of the GCC initiative. “We declare for the third and forth times that we will not abide by the Security Council Resolution 2216. It is a war resolution,” Saleh said.

In April 2015, the Security Council adopted a resolution imposing sanctions on Saleh, his elder son, and the leader of the Al Houthi movement. It accused them of derailing peace efforts in Yemen.

The ousted president’s statements come almost a week after he sent conciliatory messages to Saudi Arabia, describing it as “the elder sister”, and urging the Saudis to engage in talks with him.

Analysts in Yemen link the shift in Saleh’s tone to the influence of his allies, the Iran-backed Al Houthis. “Saleh is at the mercy of Al Houthis at the moment,” Yasser Al Yafae, a political analyst based in the southern city of Aden, told Gulf News on Wednesday. “In the past, Saleh used to offer ideas for peace or gestures of goodwill to Saudi Arabia. Now he knows such remarks would irritate Al Houthis, who might storm his residence and kill him,” Al Yafae said.

Al Houthis and Saleh traded accusations and briefly engaged in clashes in Sana’a last month, when Al Houthi militants killed a senior military officer close to Saleh.

Massive Arab Spring-inspired protests that swept Yemen in 2011 unseated Saleh and his powerful relatives after 32 years in office.

Despite agreeing to leave office, Saleh used his leverage on some units of the army to smooth the way for Al Houthis’ capture of Sana’a in September 2014.

Thanks to massive military support from the Saudi-led coalition, Yemeni government forces have managed to halt Al Houthi gains, and pushed them from more than 80 per cent of the territory.

Meanwhile, on the ground, Yemen’s ministry of defence said on Wednesday dozens of Al Houthi militants were killed in fierce fighting with government forces in Sa’ada province, the rebel heartland.