Yemeni ex-president killed after switching sides in civil war

Katrina Barker
December 5, 2017

Yemen's ex-president Ali Abdullah Saleh was killed by Huthi rebels on Monday, December 4, as he fled heavy fighting in Sanaa after the collapse of his alliance with the Iran-backed insurgents.

Sources in Mr Saleh's party confirmed he died in an attack on his convoy.

The call came as his supporters battled Houthi fighters for a fourth day in the capital Sanaa while both sides traded blame for a widening rift between allies that could affect the course of the civil war.

Saleh was killed by Houthis in a rocket-propelled grenade (RPG) and shooting attack on his vehicle at a checkpoint outside Sana'a, according to Al Jazeera. He continued to be a leader despite being forced to resign as a result of the people's protests.Moreover, after an attempt to assassinate him in Al-Nahdeen Mosque, everyone thought Saleh was done, but he spent months receiving treatment for his burns at Riyadh Military Hospital and surprised everyone with his return to continue to rule Sanaa and lead political and military battles.

In a speech on Saturday the 75-year-old abandoned Iran-aligned Houthi allies in favour of a Saudi-led coalition, saying he was ready for a "new page" in ties with the coalition and called the Houthis a "coup militia", leading them to accuse him of betrayal.

Earlier on Monday, a Sanaa-based activist said that the Houthis had gained control of most of Sanaa from Saleh's forces.

Analysts said Mr Saleh's death would be a huge moral boost for the Houthis and serious blow to the Saudi-led coalition that intervened in the conflict to try to restore the internationally recognised President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi's Government. The assassination of Saleh aims to thwart the reconciliation project.As long as we realize that Saleh's assassination aimed to thwart reconciliation, we must work toward making it succeed.What Saleh did in the last four days before his assassination is the most important event since the war erupted three years ago.

"You can not say this is the end of his political movement, but it's a very big blow", he said.

"This will not bring Yemen any closer to an end in fighting", said al-Masmari. "But this is far from over - Saleh was an icon in Yemen for millions, and so his death will not go slowly or unanswered".

Former U.S. Diplomat David Mack, now with the Middle East Institute, told VOA Saleh was "one of the smartest political operatives in the Arab world", and the former president believed he had been unjustly driven from office by countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council, in accord with the United States. "Before there were two leaderships, two different agendas, two different ways how to win the war".

Other reports by AllAboutTopnews

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