The son of former Yemeni president Ali Abdullah Saleh today called for revenge following the assassination of his father of yesterday, Reuters reported.
“I will lead the battle until the last Houthi is thrown out of Yemen…the blood of my father will be hell ringing in the ear of Iran,” Ahmed Ali Saleh said on Saudi’s Al-Ekbariya TV.
Saleh’s killing yesterday has shifted the complex Yemen civil war, much of which now depends on how the remaining Saleh loyalists decide to ally themselves.
In a statement released online today, Ahmed Saleh promised the people of Yemen that he would “confront … the enemies of the homeland and humanity who are trying to obliterate the identity, destroy the achievements and humiliate Yemen and the Yemenis and obliterate their history”. In an apparent reference to the Houthis, however he did not mention the group or Iran.
“I think the Houthis are too militarily strong for him to defeat them,” Aymenn Jawad Al-Tamimi, researcher at the International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation (ICSR), told MEMO.
“Besides the Houthis’ long experience in insurgency warfare, they were also enabled over the past three years by the alliance with Ahmad’s father,” Al-Tamimi continued.
Internationally recognised President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi called on the remaining Saleh loyalists to join his military ranks. “Let us turn a new page and go hand-in-hand to end this vicious criminal gang,” Hadi told the Popular People’s Congress party.
“It is still an open question which side of the conflict Ali Abdullah Saleh’s GPC party will fall on. It is likely that the GPC and Saleh’s patronage network will fracture, if it has not already begun to do so. His son Ahmed may be able to tap into his patronage network to rally support but there is a good chance that any support Ahmed is able to gather will be small,” Maher Farrukh, analyst for the Critical Threats Project at the American Enterprise Institute, told MEMO.
“Saudi Arabia may attempt to have Ahmed take his father’s place, this approach will likely fail to advance any kind of resolution to the war,” Farrukh continued.
“If Ali Abdullah Saleh himself could not rally the tribes to back him against [Abdul-Malik Badreddin Al-]Houthi, it seems impossible to think his son will be able to,” Sami Hamdi, editor-in-chief of the International Interest, told MEMO.
“Ali Abdullah Saleh was the main facilitator of Houthi’s coup and also the only real pragmatic threat to Houthi’s control. The failure to rally the tribes suggests a seismic shift in the political balance and it is difficult to see who really has power left to oust Houthi,” Hamdi continued.
Meanwhile the Houthi armed group’s leader, Abdul-Malik Al-Houthi described the killing of Saleh yesterday as the “the fall of the conspiracy of treachery and betrayal”.
Ahmed Ali was based in the United Arab Emirates where he once served as an ambassador before travelling to Saudi Arabia. Some reports claim that Ahmed Ali was being held under house arrest in Abu Dhabi.
Dozens of checkpoints have been erected across Sana’a by the Houthis, in a bid to tighten security. Houthi forces have also been deployed to the Sana’a airport where fierce clashes erupted between Houthi rebels and pro-Saleh tribesman.
The Houthis continue to execute raids in Sana’a, including on governmental buildings in Sana’a ,and are arresting individuals who form part of Saleh’s force.
The Yemen civil war intensified in March 2015 when the Saudi-led coalition was invited by the internationally backed Hadi to neutralise the threat posed by the Houthi armed group.
Fighting in Sana’a has rescinded since the killing of Saleh, however there are reports that Saudi Arabia executed air strikes overnight in Sana’a following Saleh’s assassination.