Yemen’s Houthi leader accuses Saudi Arabia of seeking to invade

‘It’s the right of our people to resist the aggression,’ says Abdel-Malek al-Houthi

The leader of Yemen's Iranian-allied Houthi militia has accused Saudi Arabia of plotting to seize the country, in a fiery speech suggesting he was in no mood to compromise despite more than three weeks of Saudi-led bombing.

Saudi Arabia’s goal is “the invasion of this country, its occupation and placing this country again under its feet and hegemony”, Abdel-Malek al-Houthi said.

“It’s the right of our people to resist the aggression and face the aggressor by any means,” he added.

The air campaign has mostly failed to reverse recent gains by Houthi guerrillas fighting alongside Yemeni army allies.


However, in a blow to the Houthis, a Yemeni commander of a vast military district covering half the country's border with Saudi Arabia has pledged support to exiled President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, local officials said.

The announcement puts at least 15,000 troops in the desert and mountain border area on the same side as Saudi Arabia, which hosts the embattled Yemeni president in its capital, Riyadh.

“Brig Gen Abdulrahman al-Halily of the First Military District announced today his support for constitutional legitimacy as represented by President Hadi,” one of the officials said.

Most of Yemen's military is loyal to powerful ex-president Ali Abdullah Saleh, whose forces are fighting alongside the Shia Muslim Houthi militia in battles stretching across Yemen's south and east.

But the latest defection brings to about 10 the number of divisions that have switched sides. It may point to a growing sense in the military that momentum favours Hadi.

Beginning last week, most of the army divisions along Yemen’s eastern Arabian Sea coast evacuated their posts and handed security of their bases and Yemen’s Masila oil fields, the country’s largest, to armed Sunni tribes.

Other powerful tribes followed suit within the First Military District, announcing after a huge gathering that they supported Hadi and the Saudi-led military operation, in a move which likely encouraged the commander’s decision.

– (Reuters)