Yemen`s ex-president urges allies to implement UN decisions

SANAA: Former Yemeni president Ali Abdullah Saleh urged on Friday his rebel allies to implement UN Security Council decisions in return for a halt in Saudi-led coalition air strikes.

`I call on Ansarullah (the Houthi rebels) to accept all UN Security Council decisions and to implement them in return for a halt in the coalition forces` aggression,` Mr Saleh said in a statement read out on his behalf on his private television channel Yemen Today.

`I urge them and everyone militias and Al Qaeda as well as militias loyal to (President Abd Rabbu Mansour) Hadi to withdraw from all provinces, especially Aden,` the main southern city where fighting has raged between rival forces.

A UN Security Council resolution this month imposed an arms embargo on the rebel leaders, including Mr Saleh`s own son Ahmed, and demanded that the Houthis withdraw from government institutions they had seized since they overran Sanaa in September.

Mr Saleh, who still holds sway over army units allied with the Houthis, had welcomed the resolution as a way to `stop bloodshed` in Yemen.

Saudi Arabia has led an air war targeting the rebels and their allies since March 26.

The former president, who still heads the influential General People`s Congress party, called for UN-brokered Saudi-Yemeni talks to be held in Geneva.

He also called for a resumption of inter-Yemeni dialogue, urging `reconciliation` and the release of `all prisoners and those kidnapped`.

He proposed that all provinces to be handed over to `the army and security apparatus under the control of local authorities in each province`.

Mr Saleh ruled Yemen for 33 years before being forced to stand down following a year-long Arab Spring-inspired uprising in 2011.

`I call on all parties without exception even political opponents who have been against me since 2011 to talk and show forgiveness. I will forgive everybody in the interests of the nation,` he said.

IRANIAN SHIPS: An Iranian naval convoy suspected of carrying weapons for rebels in Yemen has turned back, US officials said, as Saudi-led warplanes kept up air strikes on anti-government forces.

Yemeni Foreign Minister Riyadh Yassin accused Tehran on Thursday of trying to break a naval blockade on his country.

A US official, however, said the nine-ship Iranian convoy that had been heading for Yemen was `no longer on the same course`.

The USS Theodore Roosevelt aircraft carrier and other American warships have been deployed off Yemen`s coast to track the Iranian flotilla and possibly prevent any arms deliveries to the rebels.

The flotilla included two `armed vessels`, said the US official. It was possible the Iranians `could make a turn to Yemen at any time`, he added.

Iran vehemently denies arming the Houthi rebels and has presented a peace plan to the UN calling for a ceasefire and the formation of a unity government.

Meanwhile, coalition warplanes hit a camp housing rebel forces in third city Taez on Friday, residents said, after a night of clashes and raids throughout the country.

Army units which have remained loyal to Mr Saleh have provided crucial support to the Houthis.

The main southern city of Aden also came under coalition fire as clashes between Hadi supporters and rebels raged until dawn, pro-government militiamen said.

Residents in the eastern province of Marib also reported overnight air strikes.

Air raids also strucl< rebel convoys, including tanks, in the southern Abyan province, leaving several dead and wounded, said proHadi militiamen.

There were also strikes on nearby Daleh, local officials said, adding that coalition warplanes destroyed a bridge linking the central province of Ibb and Shiamajority Dhammar farther north to cut off rebel supplies.-AFP

Published in Dawn