Yemen's President Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi (C) meets with government officials in the country's southern port city of Aden. Image Credit: REUTERS

Al Mukalla: Yemen president Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi on Wednesday accused ousted president Ali Abdullah Saleh of plotting to assassinate him four times, facilitating Al Houthis’ rapid expansion, handing over cities to Al Qaida and being behind the Daesh attacks in the country.

In an exclusive interview with the Saudi Okaz daily on Wendesday, Hadi said Saleh used his influence on 27 army brigades throughout Yemen to set the stage for the Al Houthi take over.

He said he had long warned Gulf leaders that Iran had plans to expand its influence into Yemen. In the interview, he said Iran continued to arm Al Houthi militants in the country.

Touching on his past dealings with Saleh, Hadi said the former Yemeni leader masterminded four plots to kill him over the years.

“In 1999, I was planning to attend a ceremony in Shabwa. Saleh called me and asked me to take with me some soldiers whom he named. As we arrived the airport an hour later, the explosion occurred,” he said.

It was then that Hadi realised Saleh had plans to get rid of him.

Saleh has been repeatedly accused of inciting violence in Yemen to disrupt the transitional process in order to make a political comeback.

He was overthrown by popular protests in the country during the “Arab Spring” uprisings that swept the region in 2011.

Before Saleh was removed in the 2011 uprising, he had suggested bombing protester camp sites, Hadi revealed.

When Hadi refused, Saleh warned him that “he would regret it”.

Later, Saleh handed over Hadi’s hometown of Abyan to Al Qaida, apparently a revenge move for Hadi’s dissonance.

“Two days later he came up to me laughing. He said: Do you know Abyan fell to Al Qaida?” Hadi told the paper.

Hadi denied the presence of Daesh in Yemen, saying those who carry out attacks in their name were actually stooges of Saleh.

Saleh, who still has influence with Yemenis who served in the army, has purposely sabatoged attempts to broker peace in Yemen, following the entry of a Saudi-led Arab coalition last year which aimed at restoring Hadi’s legitimate government.

“He ordered eight of his brigades in Saada (an Al Houthi stronghold) to receive commands from (Al Houthi leader) Abdul Malek Al Houthi,” Hadi said.

Saleh, now allied with the Iran-backed Al Houthis, fought six wars against the rebel group in the past.

However, Hadi said, Saleh was not serious in his war on Al Houthis.

“He used to send ten trucks of ammunition to Ali Mohsen [Al Ahmar] and 12 others to the Al Houthis. He calls for ending fighting when he sees either side would be defeated,” he said.

The Yemeni president, who recently appointed former army general Ali Mohsen Al Ahmar, as deputy chief commander of the armed forces said that Al Ahmar “understands his people”.

Hadi also said that Saudi King Salman Bin Abdul Aziz intends to back Yemen’s proposal to join the Gulf Cooperation Council, but after purging Saleh and Al Houthis from the country.