Newspaper article International New York Times

Rebel Chief Says Saudis Are Trying to Split Yemen ; Leader Accuses Neighbor of Backing Opponents, Including Ex- President

Newspaper article International New York Times

Rebel Chief Says Saudis Are Trying to Split Yemen ; Leader Accuses Neighbor of Backing Opponents, Including Ex- President

Article excerpt

The leader of the Houthi rebel group accused Saudi Arabia, Yemen's powerful neighbor, of financing armed opponents and trying to split the country.

The leader of the Houthi rebel group here, in an unusually combative speech that reflected frustration by the rebel movement at its deepening isolation, has accused Saudi Arabia, Yemen's powerful neighbor, of financing armed opponents and trying to divide the country.

The Houthis control the capital, Sana, in northern Yemen, and much of the nation's military. Yet their authority faces a sharp challenge from Yemen's former president, Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi, who fled to the southern city of Aden on Saturday and, with the backing of Saudi Arabia and other Gulf monarchies, declared that he was still the country's legitimate leader.

Yemen has been without a government since late January, when Mr. Hadi and his cabinet resigned under pressure from the Houthis. Now the country appears more and more splintered between competing fiefs in the north and south, raising fears that it will suffer the same fate as Libya, riven by increasingly bloody factional fighting between rival governments.

There are also concerns that the power vacuum will benefit Al Qaeda's powerful local affiliate, which has been adept at seizing on political chaos in the capital to capture territory.

As the conflict in Yemen has accelerated, nearly all Western and regional countries, including the United States and Saudi Arabia, have shut down their embassies in the capital, adding to the international pressure on the Houthis to reconcile with their enemies.

Like in Libya, regional powers have been accused of playing a provocative role in Yemen's latest feuds, by supporting opposing armed factions.

The Houthis, northern tribesmen who belong to the minority Zaydi Shiite sect, have received backing from Iran. Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states, which see Iran as a dangerous rival, have been accused of supporting anti-Houthi factions. …

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