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Yemen's political factions unite to counter Houthi takeover

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Yemen's political factions united Saturday to form the National Salvation Bloc, which aims to restore the state's authority and oppose the Houthi Shiite militia that seized control of the capital Sanaa in February.

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Yemeni political forces who oppose the Shiite militia that has seized control of Sanaa formed an alliance against it Saturday, saying they want to restore state authority and rebuild weakened security forces.

Yemen descended into chaos after the militia, known as Huthis, seized Sanaa in September and then began a push to spread their influence further afield.

The Huthis dissolved the government and parliament in February, forming a presidential council, after Western- and Gulf-backed President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi submitted his resignation.

But Hadi slipped through a Huthi siege of his Sanaa home and fled to Aden, where he rescinded his resignation and declared the southern port city to be Yemen's new capital.

The newly formed National Salvation Bloc groups Sunni Muslim and secular parties, as well youth groups, tribal alliances and members of the Southern Movement, which seeks greater autonomy for the formerly independent south.

It also includes dissident southern members of the General People's Congress, the party of former president Ali Abdullah Saleh, who is suspected of backing the Huthis.

It aims to restore state authority and "prevent the collapse of the army and security forces and rebuild them," said a statement after a formational meeting in Sanaa.

And it criticised "illegitimate" measures taken by the Huthis and rejected the state being controlled by militias.

The challenges threatening Yemen led them to unite in face of what they called the "destructive" consequences of the latest developments in the impoverished and deeply tribal country.

The bloc includes such major political parties as Muslim Brotherhood-linked Al-Islah, hardline Sunni Islamist Al-Rashad and the Nasserist Unionist People's party.

In other developments Saturday, Huthi gunmen attacked the Sanaa office of local human rights advocacy group Siraj Development, said a Siraj official.

Najla al-Zamari told AFP they destroyed computers and accused staff of "collaborating with foreign countries, of "immoral activity" and allowing men and women to mix.

Yemen, which lies next to oil-rich Saudi Arabia on a key shipping route, is also home to Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) which, along with Sunni tribes and Al-Islah supporters, has battled Huthi attempts to expand further south.

Yemen's mostly Sunni Gulf neighbours, led by Saudi Arabia, are deeply suspicious of the Huthis, fearing they will take Yemen into the orbit of Shiite Iran.

(AFP)

 

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