The embattled president of Yemen, Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, has ordered the dismissal of the Yemeni ambassador to the United Arab Emirates, who is also the son of the previous president Ali Abdullah Saleh, Zee News reports via the news service Reuters today.
Hadi, who fled the country for Saudi Arabia via the port of Aden this week, was unseated in a rebellion led by rebels known as the Houthis, Yemeni Shi’as said to be supported by Iran. The Houthis have already taken control of the capital Sana’a and other major cities and have placed a bounty on Hadi’s head.
A Yemeni official told the news agency Reuters that the UAE ambassador was fired, although the exact date of his expulsion from the post is not known. There are concerns that the removal of the powerful predecessor’s son from his diplomatic position could further escalate the power struggle in Yemen. Several neighbouring countries including Saudi Arabia, Qatar, the UAE, and countries further afield such as Egypt and Pakistan have contributed military air support to repel the advance of the Houthis and their allies.
The military alliance of nations fears that the Houthis are a proxy force for Iran. Many of the Gulf Coast countries are deeply suspicious of the Islamic Republic’s motives and accuse it of using Shi’a rebels as a backdoor means of increasing its influence in the region. Numerous air strikes have rocked Sana’a as well as towns near the border with Saudi Arabia to neutralise the Houthis. Several civilians have already been killed in the attacks. The Houthis have in turn threatened suicide attacks on Saudi soil if the Saudi air force continues its offensive or attempts a ground invasion.
The sacking of the Emirates ambassador, Ahmed Ali Saleh, may well embolden the rebels. Supporters of ex-president Saleh are among those fighting alongside the Houthis. Both father and son wield considerable influence in the army units fighting with the rebels, who have so far weathered three days of Saudi-led air strikes and continue to push towards Aden, Zee News reports.
President Hadi departed on Thursday from his last base in the southern Yemeni port of Aden, which is under siege by the Houthis and Saleh army loyalists, and is currently in Saudi Arabia. The Houthis have taken control of the presidential palace and government buildings in Sana’a.
Ahmed Ali Saleh is the eldest son of the previous president and before becoming the UAE’s ambassador in May 2013 he was a commander of the prestigious Republican Guard in Yemen’s armed forces. He was in charge of around 80,000 troops. Saleh has not yet commented on his dismissal.