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UAE-ordered arrests of Islamists point to widening rift in Yemen coalition

Saudi Arabia and UAE, despite fighting together in Yemen, back rival sides in Aden [AFP]

Date of publication: 12 October, 2017

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Yemeni Islamists say forces backed by the United Arab Emirates have arrested 10 members of a local Muslim Brotherhood affiliate in the southern city of Aden.
Yemeni Islamists say forces backed by the United Arab Emirates have arrested 10 members of a local Muslim Brotherhood affiliate in the southern city of Aden.

The Islah Party said in a statement on Wednesday that those arrested include prominent party member Mohammed Abdel-Malak, whose house was raided. It called for the release of all those detained.

The arrests point to heightened tensions within the Saudi-led coalition battling Houthi rebels, who control Yemen’s capital and much of the north.

Islah is allied with Yemen’s internationally recognised President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi, but the UAE, a key member of the coalition, views it as a threat because of its links to the pan-Arab Muslim Brotherhood.

The arrest followed a roadside bombing that killed a cleric with ties to the United Arab Emirates.

Imam Yassin al-Adani, a Yemeni cleric who serves as spiritual adviser to UAE troops allied with the government in Yemen's war, was killed when a roadside bomb struck his car near the Zayed mosque in the southern city of Aden on Tuesday.

The cleric's 12-year-old son was also injured in the attack, the sources said.

The Yemeni government has not officially named suspects behind the bombing.

Yemen's complex war pits a government alliance, backed by Saudi Arabia and the UAE, against a rebel camp with ties to Iran. Extremist groups, including the Yemen branch of al-Qaeda, have also flourished in the chaos of war, primarily in the southern governorates.

Foreign diplomats in the Gulf say the UAE's goals in the Yemen war include gaining control of Arabian Sea ports and driving al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) out of the south.

The United States also regularly conducts drone strikes aimed at targets identified as affiliated with AQAP.

More than 10,000 people have been killed since Saudi Arabia and its allies joined the Yemen war in 2015, according to the World Health Organisation. Many of the casualties are children who died in Arab coalition airstrikes.

The UN has also warned of mass starvation in Yemen, the poorest country in the Arab world, amid an ongoing cholera outbreak that is expected to infect over a million people, the worst in history.

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