Collapse of rebel alliance leads to ‘street war’ in Yemeni capital

by WorldTribune Staff, December 3, 2017

Three years after joining forces to drive out the internationally recognized government in Yemen, the alliance between Iran-backed Houthi rebels and forces loyal to ex-president Ali Abdullah Saleh has collapsed.

Smoke rises during the battle between former Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh’s supporters and Houthi rebels in Sanaa on Dec. 2. / Reuters

Gun battles between the Houthis and Saleh loyalists erupted in the capital Sanaa on Dec. 3 as residents reported a “street war” between the former allies. Security forces reported at least 60 dead in the fighting.

“Sanaa is becoming like a ghost town. There is a street war and people are holed up in their houses,” according to an activist who works with the International Organization for Migration in Sanaa. “If the confrontation continues, many families will be cut off” and stranded in their homes.

Analysts say the alliance fell apart after Saleh reached out to the Saudi-led coalition fighting the Houthis. Saleh ruled Yemen as president for 33 years after the 1990 unification of north and south Yemen.

The Houthis’ political office on Dec. 2 accused Saleh of staging a “coup” against “an alliance he never believed in.”

Sanaa residents barricaded themselves in their homes to avoid snipers and shelling as the two sides battled around key ministries in Sanaa after having worked together just days before.

The education ministry canceled classes on Dec. 3, normally the start of the school week, and witnesses said some bodies of those killed in previous clashes were still lying in the streets, AFP reported.

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