Houthis: Ahmed Saleh offer to fight us proves there is no alliance

Published on 30 March 2015 in News
Bassam Al-Khameri (author)

Bassam Al-Khameri


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SANA’A, March 29—The Houthis, also known as Ansar Allah, have used leaks by Saudi officials to refute claims that there is any alliance between the Houthis and former President Ali Abdullah Saleh. A Saudi official told Al-Arabiya on Saturday that Saleh’s son, Ahmed, offered to fight the Houthis.

Saudi Defense Minister Prince Mohammed Bin Salman told the Saudi owned Al-Arabiya that Ahmed Ali offered to fight the Houthis in exchange for a number of concessions two days prior to the launch of airstrikes in the country.

A source in Ahmed Saleh’s office, who declined to speak on the record, denied that Saleh has done any traveling to Riyadh since returning to Sana’a in January.

Al-Arabiya said that Saudi Arabia refused all demands and offers. The military offensive, known as Decisive Storm, started in the early hours of Wednesday morning, two days after Saleh’s alleged offer. News about the offer was leaked about an hour after Saleh made a speech aired via the Saleh-owned Yemen Today channel on Saturday. During that speech, the former president called on Saudi Arabia and other countries to stop their air raids on Yemen.  

With the leak, Saudi Arabia has been accused of attempting to foment division between the Houthis and Saleh. Saleh, whose troops have been fighting alongside the Houthis as they make their way to the south of the country, is accused of helping the rebel group come to Sana’a and take power.    

Ahmed Ali Abdullah Saleh presented two files to Saudi Arabia, according to Al-Arabiya, one file contained demands and the other an offer. The demands included the lifting of sanctions imposed on his father by the UN Security Council as well as the continuation of immunity first granted to him and his father by the GCC Initiative. In return, the younger Saleh and his father would lead a coup against the Houthis, Salman told Al-Arabiya.   

“Ahmed Ali demanded an end to the media campaign being waged against his father and pledged to overthrow the Houthis by preparing 5000 soldiers of the Special Security Forces and 100,000 troops from the Republican Guards to fight the Houthis,” according to Al-Arabiya.

If Ahmed Saleh did indeed make the offer, it is unclear if soldiers would follow his commands. He was the commander of the now-dissolved Republican Guards, before being dismissed in April 2012, following a restructuring of the military. The guards were redistributed to other units in an effort to lessen the Saleh family’s grip on the military. Saleh’s nephew, Yahya, was chief of staff of the now-dissolved Cental Security Forces.

Qasim Mujahid Naseer, a current soldier of the Reserve Forces who was a member of the Republican Guards, claims that he and thousands of soldiers are willing to fight the Houthis if Ahmed Saleh asks them to.

“Most of the Republican Guards troops love Ahmed Ali because he had their best interests at heart during his term as commander of the Republican Guards,” Nasser said. “We are ready to fight under his command. The military was weakened and humiliated after the military restructure implemented by Hadi.”

Mohammed Al-Bukhaiti, a member of the Houthi Political Office, told the Yemen Times that the offer by Ahmed Saleh proves that there is no alliance between Saleh and the Houthis.  

“If [the news is] true [regarding an offer], Ahmed Ali is not able to command the military. His efforts will fail,” Al-Bukhaiti said.   

Al-Bukhaiti said he does not believe Yemeni soldiers will agree to implement the agendas of the countries who are shelling the country.

“The military is targeted by Decisive Storm, it will not follow the orders of outside countries bombing them,” he added.