by Compiled from Wire Services
Oct 04, 2016 12:00 am
Iran-backed Shiite Houthis rebels in Yemen said Sunday they will establish their own government of "national salvation" to rival the internationally recognized administration of Yemeni President Abd Rabbuh Mansour Hadi in the south.
The move was decided by a "supreme political council" created in July by the Iran-backed rebels and forces allied to Yemen's former president Ali Abdullah Saleh. In early August, UN-backed peace talks in Kuwait between Yemen's warring parties were suspended.
On Sunday, Saleh al-Sammad, head of the supreme political council, appointed Abdel Aziz Ben Habtoor to form a government of national salvation, the rebels announced on their website sabanews.net.
Ben Habtoor is a former governor of the southern port city of Aden and a member of the political bureau of Saleh's General People's Congress.
The rebel announcement of a rival government is likely to further complicate the prospects of a political settlement in Yemen.
Meanwhile, Arab coalition forces have launched operations against militia boats of Yemen's Houthi group that struck a civilian logistics ship on a humanitarian voyage in a strategic Red Sea shipping lane, the Saudi-led alliance said. The vessel, an Australian-built high-speed logistics catamaran under lease to the United Arab Emirates military, was attacked by Houthi fighters near the Bab al-Mandab strait off Yemen's southern coast on Saturday. The coalition rescued its civilian passengers. No crew was hurt.
Houthi rebels and forces allied with ousted President Ali Abdullah Saleh seized the capital Sanaa in September 2014, forcing the internationally recognized government to flee the country. A Saudi-led, U.S.-backed coalition has conducted an extensive air campaign against the Houthis since March 2015, pushing them out of southern Yemen, but failing so far to dislodge them from the capital Sanaa and the rest of the north. The United Nations says the conflict has killed more than 6,600 people and displaced at least three million. Since then, the Houthis rebels have been pushed out of much of Yemen's south, but they still control nearly the country's entire Red Sea coast as well as swathes of territory around the capital Sanaa.
Yemen plays a significant role for Saudi Arabia against Iran's influence over the violence-hit Middle East region. The advance of the Iranian-backed Shiite Houthi group raises fears of the possible disintegration of the country. Yemen is of crucial importance for the U.S., as the country is home to one of their worst enemies, al-Qaida's deadliest franchise, al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), which has orchestrated numerous high-profile terrorist attacks, including claiming responsibility for the Charlie Hebdo massacre in Paris. Since 2002, the U.S. has been conducting counterterror strikes and operations against radical militants as part of U.S. national security policy. The U.S's "targeted-killing policy" and practices by the Obama administration have raised serious laws-of-war concerns regarding the human cost of U.S security policy in Yemen.