Saleh denies good relations with Houthis

Saleh denies good relations with Houthis
Yemen's former president has denied close relations with the Houthis, as both sides advance against President Hadi in the south of the country.
3 min read
01 April, 2015
Saleh stepped down as president in February 2012 [AFP]
Analysts believe that during his 33 years as Yemen's president, Ali Abdullah Saleh mastered under-the-table techniques and approaches, but it was different when it came to dealing with crises in public.

His efforts to control the south of the country using the Houthis, his loyalists he continues to appear weak, evasive and opportunistic in public.

Saleh has not openly attacked the countries leading the military operation against him and the Houthis. Instead, he continues to be evasive and act as if he is not the target.

In a televised statement made at the Arab Summit in the Egyptian resort city of Sharm al-Sheikh, Saleh said he would "support any presidential candidate coming to power through elections".

Analysts, however consider this to be one of his evasive attempts to deceive others, by pretending to act weak and make compromises.

     Saleh's attempt to sneak into the gap between Riyadh and Abu Dhabi has been described as "pathetic".

Saleh pledged that neither he nor his relatives would run for president, however he continued to criticise the country's legitimate president.

"According to the Gulf Initiative, his presidential term has ended," he said, referring to Yemeni President Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi.

Saudi Arabian political analyst Khaled al-Maeena, former editor-in-chief of Arab News, told al-Araby al-Jadeed Saleh's address to the Arab summit was incoherent.

Maeena described Saleh attempt to sneak into the gap between Riyadh and Abu Dhabi as "pathetic".

Discussing Gulf support to Saleh, Maeena said Gulf countries had provided Saleh with more than $21bn to help him regain power and rebuild Yemen, adding that their relations with him had taught them a lesson.

"Only pay to build a country, and not for individuals becaue they can turn against you any moment," he said.

Last week, Saleh loyalists circulated leaks in the media stating that his party had sent a delegation to the Houthi stronghold in Saada province to urge their leader to stop his militias invading the south.

However, other media sources said the delegation was aiming to discuss how to respond to the Saudi-led air strikes against them.

     Saleh knows his army is growing weaker and his social network is collapsing.

Yemeni political analyst and writer Marwan al-Ghafouri told al-Araby al-Jadeed: "Saleh still lives in 1978 – the year he came to power – in complete denial of reality."

Ghafouri said Saleh knows his army is growing weaker and his social network is collapsing, however he continues to deny the crisis.

While Saleh's opponents have accused him of being behind all Yemen's crisis, Nabil al-Soufi, a Yemeni journalist with close ties to his regime said: "Saleh is being more realistic than all the other parties involved, this includes those who commended the airstrikes as a clear victory, or those who believed they herald the end for Saudi Arabia."

Soufi described Saleh as "a former president who is well aware of the risks of these wars, whether or not Saudi Arabia achieves its goals".

The UN penal committee's report showed Saleh's wealth exceeds $60bn, which is five times Yemen's annual budget.

Many analysts believe Saleh's relation with the Houthis "will become clearer over the next few days", depending on their response to Operation Decisive Storm.

Saleh has continued to circulate leaks showing he is preparing to "travel to Eritrea or Oman". According to analysts, this shows he is "playing games and trying to draw attention to himself", while his army and Houthis continue to carry out massacres in the south and try to control it.

This article is an edited translation from our Arabic edition.

Opinions expressed in this article remain those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of al-Araby al-Jadeed, its editorial board or staff.