Yemen's rebel alliance appeared to completely unravel yesterday, the fifth day of clashes in the capital, Sanaa, where the Shiite rebels are facing off with former president's fighters in deadly street fighting that has forced residents to hunker indoors. Clashes between fighters loyal to ex-President Ali Abdullah Saleh and the Iran-allied rebels known as Houthis first erupted last week. The two were allies in the war against a Saudi-led coalition seeking to restore Yemen's internationally recognized President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi to power and dislodge the rebel alliance from Sanaa.
Meanwhile, Hadi, who is in Saudi Arabia in self-imposed exile, appeared to extend an offer of reconciliation to his predecessor, Saleh. In a statement from Riyadh, Hadi said his side will support "any party confronting Houthi terrorist gangs."
The offer followed a televised statement Saturday by Saleh in which he announced that he and his party, the People's General Congress, were open to dialogue and willing to turn a "new page" in dealings with the Saudi-led coalition.
Apparently confirming his break with the Shite Houthis and aligning himself with Saudi Arabia, Saleh told the Kuwait al-Rai daily that "the era of the militias is over and there is no coexistence after today between a state and a quasi-state."
"Our natural orbit as Yemenis, is the Gulf orbit," he added, referring to Gulf Arab states. "Whatever differences we have with the Gulf countries, we will cooperate and agree." Relations between the Houthis and Saleh's forces deteriorated over the past week amid accusations from the rebels that Saleh was opening a back channel with the coalition, specifically the United Arab Emirates, a coalition member, to turn against the Houthis.