Socialist Worker

Gunfights and killing as Yemen rebels split

by Nick Clark
Issue No. 2583

President Saleh was forced to resign by mass protests

President Saleh was forced to resign by mass protests (Pic: Kremlin/Creative Commons)


Former Yemeni president Ali Abdullah Saleh was killed on Monday after appealing to Saudi Arabia for a deal to end Yemen’s brutal civil war.

Video footage circulating on Monday appeared to show Saleh lying lifeless on the ground with a serious head wound.

It came after a shaky alliance between Houthi rebels and forces loyal to Saleh against Yemen’s current government broke down into fighting on the streets.

Saleh appealed to regional giant Saudi Arabia—which has waged a bloody war against the Yemeni rebels—for a peace deal on Sunday.

Saudi Arabia entered the civil war in Yemen against the Houthi movement, which it says is backed by its regional rival Iran.

The Houthi rebels denounced Saleh’s promise to make peace with Saudi Arabia as a “coup”.

The Houthi-controlled interior ministry said in a statement that the “treasonous leader had been killed along with a number of his supporters”.

While president he faced attempts by Houthi rebels to overthrow him.

His resignation involved a handover of power to his vice president Abd Rabbuh Mansur al-Hadi as the new Western-backed leader.

But Hadi’s regime faced a continuing rebellion which descended into civil war. Saleh opportunistically joined forces with his former enemies the Houthis in the hope that it would return him to power.

Killed

That alliance broke down into gun battles on the streets of Yemeni capital Sana’a last week, and now Saleh is dead.

More than 10,000 people have been killed in Yemen’s civil war since it began in 2015—including many thousands of civilians.

The charity Human Rights Watch says most of those were killed in airstrikes led by Saudi Arabia, which is heavily armed by Britain.

The horror is fuelled by the regional competition between Saudi Arabia and Iran, which has grown more intense in the wake of the wars in Syria and Iraq.

Iran has extended its influence throughout the Middle East, with military forces now in Iraq and Syria. Now Saudi Arabia and other states in the Middle East are trying to force Iran back.

Israel—which is working closely with Saudi Arabia against Iran—reportedly carried out a missile strike against Iranian and Syrian forces in Syria on Saturday.

Both Israel and Saudi Arabia are backed by the US and Britain—and are dangerously close to spreading yet more carnage across the Middle East.


Click here to subscribe to our daily morning email newsletter 'Breakfast in red'

Mobile users! Don't forget to add Socialist Worker to your home screen.