In Brief

Yemen’s ex-president Saleh reported dead in Sanaa fighting

Broadcaster Al Jazeera says death has been confirmed by former leader’s political party

Yemen’s former president Ali Abdullah Saleh has reportedly been killed in fighting with the Iran-aligned Houthi militia in the capital Sanaa, a development expected to unite Yemenis and to have major implications for the poverty-stricken Arab country.

Al Jazeera says Saleh’s death was confirmed by his political party, the General People’s Congress (GPC). A source told al-Arabiya television that he was killed by sniper bullets.

A pro-Houthi television channel aired a video that appeared to show Saleh lying dead on a blanket, with a wound in his head, surrounded by Houthi militias celebrating his death. Houthi rebels claim to have killed Saleh as he fled the capital, the Financial Times reports. There were also reports of an explosion in Saleh’s home in Saana.

Hakim Almasmari, editor-in-chief of the Yemen Post, told Al Jazeera that while the death would not be the end of Saleh's political movement, “but it’s a very big blow”.

Saleh ruled Yemen for more than three decades and remained a key behind-the-scenes player. Until last week, Saleh’s supporters were fighting alongside the Houthis in a war against Yemen’s president, Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi. 

“But longstanding political tensions and a dispute over control of the main mosque in the rebel-controlled capital, Sanaa, triggered fierce clashes that have left more than 125 people dead and 238 wounded since Wednesday night,” the BBC says.

On Saturday, Saleh offered to turn a new page, with the Saudi-led coalition backing Hadi. But, the BBC says, Houthis accused Saleh of staging a “coup” against “an alliance he never believed in”.

Almasmari said that while the death would not bring Yemen closer to an end in fighting, it would unite Yemenis under one leadership.

“Before there were two leaderships, two different agendas, two different ways how to win the war,” he added.

The Yemeni conflict is essentially a proxy war between Saudi Arabia, the region’s Sunni powerhouse, and Shia Iran, reports the FT. 

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