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Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 18 September 2018

Tensions between Yemen's rebel allies flare into the open again

Saleh and Houthis trade accusations in public statements

Former Yemeni president Ali Abdullah Saleh waves after a speech to supporters during a rally marking the 35th anniversary of his General People's Congress party, at Sabaeen Square in the capital Sanaa on August 24, 2017. Mohammed Huwais / AFP
Former Yemeni president Ali Abdullah Saleh waves after a speech to supporters during a rally marking the 35th anniversary of his General People's Congress party, at Sabaeen Square in the capital Sanaa on August 24, 2017. Mohammed Huwais / AFP

New signs of tension between Yemen's Houthi rebels and former president Ali Abdullah Saleh emerged on Thursday with a fresh wave of mutual accusations threatening their three-year alliance.

Mr Saleh and the Iran-backed Houthis have jointly controlled the capital Sanaa since September 2014, but tensions have been rising in their ranks since a public dispute between the two in August.

Mr Saleh's General People's Congress (GPC) on Thursday complained of humiliation at the hands of the Houthis, accusing the rebels of waging an "orchestrated campaign" against the former strongman.

In an open letter to Ansarallah, the political party led by rebel chief Abdul Malek Al Houthi, the GPC said its ministers in the unofficial rebel government had been "humiliated" by the Houthis, who "lack the will to maintain partnership".

Ansarallah fired back, accusing the GPC of breaking their pact with the Houthis and accepting funds from the internationally recognised government of the president Abdrabu Mansur Hadi, in a statement by the party's political leader Salah Sammad.

Mr Sammad accused the GPC of "sapping internal unity" and paralysing the rebel government.

Cracks first surfaced between Mr Saleh and Abdul Malek Al Houthi in August when the Houthis accused the former president of treason after he publicly dismissed the rebels as "militias".

For decades sworn enemies, forces loyal to Mr Saleh joined ranks with the Houthis in 2014 to drive the Hadi government out of Sanaa.

The rebel alliance is locked in a war with government forces backed by a Saudi-led Arab military coalition that includes the UAE.

The conflict has destroyed vital infrastructure and pushed the country to the brink of famine. More than 8,600 people have been killed since the coalition joined the Yemen war on Mr Hadi's behalf in 2015, according to UN estimates.

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