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Former Yemen rebel ally Saleh calls for talks with Saudi Arabia

Tension between Saleh and the Houthis has been rising in recent months [Getty]

Date of publication: 2 December, 2017

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Former Yemen dictator Ali Abdullah Saleh has announced he is open to talks with the Saudi-led coalition fighting rebels, as his alliance with the Houthi insurgents appears to be crumbling.

Former Yemen dictator Ali Abdullah Saleh has announced he is open to talks with the Saudi-led coalition fighting rebels, as his alliance with the Houthi insurgents appears to have crumbled.

Saleh made the announcement on Saturday on Yemen Today TV as clashes continued in the capital Sanaa between forces loyal to the former president Saleh and Houthi rebels.

"I call on our brothers in neighbouring countries ... to stop their aggression and lift the blockade... and we will turn the page," Saleh said.

"We vow to our brothers and neighbours that, after a ceasefire is in place and the blockade is lifted... we will hold dialogue directly through the legitimate authority represented by our parliament."

He also called on armed forces to refrain from taking any orders from the rebels, adding that "citizens have revolted against Houthi aggression".

The Saudi-led coalition responded to Saleh's statement saying that it recognised the efforts of his General People's Congress (GPC) political party to rid Yemen of the evils of "sectarian terrorist militias", Saudi state media reported.

The Houthi rebels also responded, accusing the ex-president of staging a "coup" against their fragile alliance.

"Saleh's speech is a coup against our alliance and partnership... and exposed the deception of those who claim to stand against aggression," a Houthi spokesman said in a statement carried by the rebels' al-Masirah TV.

Violence in Sanaa has left at least 40 fighters dead or wounded since Wednesday, rebel chief Abdul Malik al-Houthi said, as Saleh loyalists and rebel fighters continued to clash on Saturday afternoon.

Residents in the capital told The New Arab that clashes continued Friday evening around the city.

Tension between Saleh and the Houthis has been rising in recent months. Saleh has accused the Houthis of seeking to monopolise power and the rebels have accused the strongman of treason over his suspected contacts with Saudi Arabia.

The Saudi-led coalition - which has fought Saleh and the Houthi rebels since 2015 - last month imposed a total blockade on the impoverished country after a rebel missile was shot down near Riyadh.

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