12/05/2017, 09.59
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Former president Ali Abdallah Saleh, 'man of many contradictions', is killed

A few days earlier he was still allied with the Houthi; then he decided to ally himself with Saudi Arabia, hoping to return to being president of Yemen. In the past he had fought against the Houthi, demanding Riyadh’s intervention.

Sanaa (AsiaNews) - Former Yemeni president Ali Abdallah Saleh was killed yesterday afternoon in a clash between his supporters and his former allies, the Houthi rebels. Just yesterday morning, the Saudi newspapers had applauded him for breaking his alliance with the Houthi and trying to restore ties with Saudi Arabia. A few days before, on November 30, still allied with the Houthi, he had publicly denied that Yemen received weapons and missiles from Iran (the accusation made by Riyadh). The day after Saleh in another public speech, said that the war against the Arab alliance (Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Egypt and Bahrain)  was useless stating that it was necessary to "combat the Houthi".

Yesterday afternoon, the leader of the Ansar Allah, Abdelmalik Al Houthi appeared on State TV immediately after the announcement of the death of the former president to announce that  "a plot hatched by the enemies of Yemen using Ali Abdallah Saleh and his militia" had been foiled and advising foreign investors not to go to Saudi Arabia or the United Arab Emirates because these countries would no longer be safe from Yemeni retaliation. Instead he advised them to go and invest in countries such as "the Sultanate of Oman, Kuwait, Iraq, or Syria where security has returned".

Ali Abdallah Saleh, 77, a former pastor who grew up in a modest family, entered the military as a mere soldier but went on to become the sixth president of the Republic of Yemen. "The man of many contradictions", as he was defined, remained in office as president of Yemen from 1978 until 25 February 2012, when he was removed on a wave of "Arab Spring" protests in Yemen. He tried to ally himself with the Saudis against the Houthi, but Riyadh preferred Abd Rabbu Mansur Hadi in Aden. Disappointed by the Saudis, he invited all his loyalists to fight alongside the Houthi against the Arab invaders, the coalition led by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. In 2015 he emerged unscathed from a fatal attack. Under his 34-year presidential term, Yemen discovered oil, but also corruption; the unity of the country in 1990, but also, later, the division and exclusion of the South. Under his mandate the borders with Saudi Arabia were also fixed and he always opened the frontier to Saudi Arabian troops, seeking their help in his war against the Houthi from 2004 to 2010, in six successive campaigns, only to later become allied with the rebels and finally betray them in the past few days.

"We knew that sooner or later he would betray us," a senior member of Ansar Allah said yesterday, "but we did not know when." The Ansar Allah spokesman, Mohammad Abdel Salam wrote that it is the "United Arab Emirates who brought the traitor Ali Abdallah Saleh to this end", and added that their "air force supported the Battle of Saleh sparking a terrible civil war that has failed with over 50 air raids "

After three years of Arab invasion led mainly by Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates and the failure to enter and take the capital Sanaa, the United Arab Emirates played the card of former president Saleh secretly enlisting him and preparing the coup in silence. The television footage in Saleh's house in Sanaa, after his killing, reveals enormous quantities of weapons, perhaps smuggled by the Emirates, and a series of lists with names and signatures of people close to Saleh, with receipts of regular payments in money from the Emirates United Arab Emirates.

Four days ago Saleh began his internal anti-Houthi uprising, but this time he found himself alone deserted even members of his party the National General Congress, who refused to fight. The only remaining men were mercenaries paid by the Emirates, enlisted and trained in Aden under the control of the Emirates and Saudi Arabia.

Saleh’s latest change of colours even disgusted the tribes allied to him, who this time fought against him. Faced with the heavy clashes without escape for Saleh, the Houthi offered a cease-fire and immunity on condition that he withdraw permanently from political life. Saleh's refusal led to three days of intense fighting. Yesterday, in order to avoid encirclement, he decided to flee in the direction of Maarab to the northeast of Sanaa, an area protected by the UAE's jets. Ali Abdallah Saleh was supposed to join them and open a front in Khulan to march with the United Arab Emirates forces on Sanaa and finally take the capital. On the escape route, there was perhaps still the dream of being appointed president once the war was won. But Ali Abdallah Saleh was trapped in an ambush and died in the shootout along with his heir-designate Yasser Al Awadi, a leading member of his party the National General Congress.

To help Saleh take control of the city, the Saudi military air force and the Emirates had intensified air raids against the Houthi positions in Sanaa. The bombings have further aggravated the acute humanitarian crisis faced by civilians. And despite the spread of the news of the death of Ali Abdallah Saleh, the Saudi bombings have not stopped. This latest turn of events is yet another Saudi and Emirati defeat in Yemen. In Washington, Congress has begun to increasingly demand the interruption of US backing for the war in Yemen and support for Riyadh and Abu Dhabi. (PB)

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