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Rebel leader threatens Yemeni president

January 20, 2015

The leader of the Shiite rebels in Yemen has warned that "all options are open" against President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi. Al-Houthi also said that the president has refused to send the army to fight al Qaeda.

Schwere Kämpfe um Präsidentenpalast im Jemen 19.01.2015
Image: picture-alliance/ZUMAPRESS.com

The head of Yemen's powerful Houthi rebel group, Abdel-Malek al-Houthi, has claimed that the embattled president has not make a serious effort to implement a peace deal he signed with the Houthis in September, which was brokered by the UN.

Al-Houthi also warned Tuesday in a televised speech that all "options are open" in action against Yemeni President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi, just hours after Houthi fighters took over the presidential palace and battled guards at Hadi's residence.

"No one, the president or anyone else, will be above our measures if they stand to implement a conspiracy against this country," he warned.

The rebel commander also said that the UN Security Council will not benefit from "any measures" they wish to take.

"We are ready to face the consequences, regardless of what they are," he said.

UN Security Council backs Hadi

In response, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said he was "gravely concerned", and called for an immediate halt to the fighting. He also condemned the kidnapping of Hadi's chief of staff, Ahmed Awad bin Mubarak, and called for his release.

The UN Security Council held an emergency meeting concerning the crisis in Yemen on Tuesday. The council condemned an attack by Houthi rebels on Yemen's presidential palace and voiced strong support for the President Hadi.

In a statement adopted by the 15 members, the council said Hadi "is the legitimate authority" and that "all parties and political actors in Yemen must stand with President Hadi, Prime Minister [Khaled] Bahah, and Yemen's cabinet to keep the country on track to stability and security."

UN envoy to restore stability

UN envoy Jamal Benomar told the council that the Shiite militia, known as the Houthis, had launched a "massive attack using heavy weapons" on the palace, a diplomat present at the closed meeting told the AFP news agency.

The envoy, who briefed the Security Council from Doha by video link, said he would travel to Yemen's capital Sanaa immediately to try to help restore stability.

Hadi's government has been a crucial ally of the United States in its fight against al Qaeda terrorists. Yemen's branch of al Qaeda is believed to be especially dangerous; recently, it claimed responsibility for the Charlie Hebdo attacks in Paris which left 17 dead.

Rebel leader al-Houthi, however, has that linking "what happened [in Paris] with Yemen and al Qaeda is a foreign plot" against his country, and condemned "affronts to Islam," apparently referring to the Charlie Hebdo cartoons.

dj/cmk (AFP, dpa, Reuters)

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