Sana’a, Asharq Al-Awsat—Yemen’s President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi on Saturday renewed accusations of coordination between Iran, former president Ali Abdullah Saleh, and the Shi’ite Houthi movement currently in de facto control of Yemen, revealing new details of their involvement in an attempt “occupy” the country.
Informed sources told Asharq Al-Awsat that during a meeting in Aden on Saturday with the leaders of Yemeni civil society organizations, Hadi said the Houthis were seeking to remodel the country’s military and security establishments in accordance with the “Iranian experiment.”
According to the source, who requested anonymity, Hadi said the Houthis previously approached him to issue a presidential decree to allow 60,000 members of the movement’s militias to join the country’s army and security cadres
Their command structure would then be modeled “along similar lines to that of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps,” the source quoted Hadi as saying.
Hadi also reiterated accusations against former president Ali Abdullah Saleh, who many in the country and outside it allege mediated between the Houthis and his aides in the military and security apparatuses to ease the Shi’ite movement’s takeover of Sana’a in September of 2014.
Hadi said Saleh was in regular contact with the Iranians and had requested Tehran pressure the Houthis “to meet and coordinate with him to plan the occupation of Sana’a,” the source added.
However, Hadi’s request was rejected after consultations between Tehran and Hassan Nasrallah, the leader of the Lebanese Shi’ite movement Hezbollah.
Last Monday Hadi accused Saleh, Iran, and the Houthis of coordinating on the Houthi power-grab, which began when the group took over the capital Sana’a occupying government and military buildings and installations last September.
The movement then announced in February it would be forming the country’s new parliament and government and appointing an interim presidential committee to oversee the country’s affairs following the resignations of Hadi and former premier Khaled Bahah, effectively putting it in control of the country.
Hadi was held under house arrest by the Houthis on January 22 when armed members of the movement surrounded his home in Sana’a. However, he managed to escape to Aden after one month, appearing in a statement to retract his resignation when he signed it as “the president of the Yemeni Republic.”
The source also reflected comments by a previous source speaking to Asharq Al-Awsat that the president considered Aden the new capital of Yemen after the Houthi takeover of Sana’a.
An informed source from the city, speaking to Asharq Al-Awsat on condition of anonymity, said: “Aden is now the de facto capital of Yemen due to the current circumstances. But Hadi’s declaring it a city under occupation now makes it obligatory for him to take a clear stand on liberating the city from the militias currently occupying it.”
“This in turn obligates him to seek to call on all countries as well as regional and international institutions to take . . . steps to move [international] embassies from Sana’a to Yemen,” he added.
The US and UK as well as several Gulf states announced in recent weeks they were moving their own diplomatic missions to the southern city following Hadi’s reappearance in Sana’a.
Western countries consider Hadi an ally in Yemen, where Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), considered the deadliest branch of Al-Qaeda, currently operates from northern regions.