With Iran-funded Al Houthis running amok, a resolution to the conflict is not in sight
The assassination of Ali Abdullah Saleh has struck a death blow to the sliver of hope for peace in Yemen. When the former president announced last week his intention to turn a new page in ties with the Saudi-led coalition, it held out the prospect of peace. That has been snuffed out by the Al Houthis who gunned down Saleh in Sana’a on Monday. The killing certainly bodes ill for Yemen.
Saleh, who ruled Yemen for 33 years before being forced to step down by an Arab Spring uprising in 2011, was one of the wiliest politicians in the region.
Ruling Yemen is like dancing on the heads of snakes, he used to say. The 75-year-old seemed to have a premonition, predicting his killing in an interview that was published in a Kuwaiti daily a day before his assassination. He had survived an attempt on his life in 2011, and recovered from his injuries in Saudi Arabia.
When the Saudi Arabia-led coalition moved to restore the internationally-recognised government of President Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi, after the Al Houthis overran the country, Saleh aligned with the Iran-backed rebel militia. He had recently switched sides after falling out with Al Houthis — a move that gave hope of a possible end to the conflict.
Saleh’s death came at an inopportune time in Yemeni history. He was an influential figure, who enjoyed the backing of several prominent tribes. Without his leadership, the General People’s Congress — the largest party in the country — will be rudderless and may even break up. With Al Houthis running amok, the assassination of Saleh will only thrust Yemen deeper into the abyss of violence. Peace for Yemenis continues to be a mirage.
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