SANA’A, Yemen: President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi of Yemen has turned over power to a presidential council and dismissed his deputy, as Saudi Arabia moved to strengthen an anti-Houthi alliance in line with efforts led by the United Nations to revive negotiations to end the seven-year war.
After Hadi’s announcement, Riyadh announced $3 billion in financial aid to the Saudi-backed government and called for talks with the Houthis, who ousted Hadi’s government from the capital, Sanaa, in late 2014 and control the country’s north while fighting the Saudi-led coalition.
In a diplomatic breakthrough, Yemen’s warring sides agreed on a two-month truce that began this week, and the agreement eased a coalition blockade on areas held by the Houthis.
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Additionally, Gulf Cooperation Council ministers met this week and expressed their support for the presidential council and negotiations with Iranian-backed Houthis, under UN supervision.
“I irreversibly delegate to the Presidential Leadership Council my full powers, in accordance with the constitution and the Gulf Initiative and its executive mechanism,” Hadi said on state television.
According to analysts, the new council aims to unify anti-Houthi groups, and with Hadi effectively out of the equation and his deputy dismissed, the hope is that the Houthis may also be more likely to negotiate.
Saudi Arabia, which has struggled to exit the Yemeni war, urged the council to negotiate with the Houthis through the UN, “for a final and comprehensive solution.”
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken welcomed the council’s formation, stating Washington “remains committed to helping advance a durable, inclusive resolution to the conflict in Yemen.”
The United Arab Emirates also welcomed the council’s formation.
Gregory Johnsen, a former member of the UN Panel of Experts on Yemen, said on Twitter, “This is an attempt, perhaps a last ditch effort, to reconstitute something resembling unity within the anti-Houthi alliance. The problem is that it is unclear how these various individuals, many of whom have diametrically opposing views, can work together.”
The conflict, widely seen as a proxy war between Saudi Arabia and Iran, has killed tens of thousands, devastated the economy and pushed Yemen to the brink of famine.