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Yemen rebel leader Ali Abdullah Saleh seeks dialogue amid escalating violence

Yemen rebel leader Ali Abdullah Saleh seeks dialogue amid escalating violence

Rajah Badie, spokesman for the internationally recognized Yemeni government in exile in Riyadh, told Saudi-owned al-Arabiya TV that his forces "call on all Yemenis to support the uprising (being led by Saleh)", and that the uprising "spells the end of Iranian meddling in the country".

The clash between Saleh's supporters and the Houthis underscores the complex situation in Yemen, one of the poorest countries in the Middle East, where war between Houthis and the Saudi-backed Hadi has caused one of the worst humanitarian catastrophes in recent times.

Yemen's former president Ali Abdullah Saleh has declared this Saturday ready to negotiate with Saudi Arabia-led coalition against which his forces have been fighting for two and a half years.

The United Nations has warned that the country faces mass starvation unless the Saudi-led coalition allows more food aid to enter the impoverished country.

The fighting subsided by the afternoon as Saleh supporters secured control.

"I call on our brothers in neighboring countries.to stop their aggression and lift the blockade. and we will turn the page", the former president said in a televised speech.

"It's been like a street war", they said, adding that ambulances have been ferrying the wounded to hospitals.

There was no immediate word on casualties.

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The attack took place just hours after the rebels threatened to retaliate over a crippling blockade on Yemen imposed by Saudi Arabia.

The Houthis accused Saleh of betrayal, and vowed to keep up the fight against the Saudi-led coalition.

The coalition accuses Saleh of having betrayed his Arab neighbours by joining the Houthi-led forces they say are aligned with non-Arab Iran.

"It is not odd or surprising that Saleh turns back on a partnership he never believed in", the group's political bureau said in a statement.

Saleh's GPC party accused the Houthis of failing to honor the truce and claimed in a statement on its website that the Houthis bear responsibility for dragging the country into a civil war.

"I appeal to the leader Saleh to show more wisdom and maturity. not to heed incitement calls, and help restore security to the country through cooperation", al-Houthi further said.

However, in a statement, Saleh's party, the GPC, ordered their supporters to defy Houthi's orders and to "defend their homeland, their revolution, and their unity".

Stressing that Yemen's interests lie in avoiding sedition, the Houthi leader called on citizens and tribal fighters to focus on the battle against the invading Saudi regime and stay away from any provocative acts.


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