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Saudi Arabia calls for restraint in Yemen as Houthis continue advance - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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A Houthi Shi'ite rebel mans a machine gun mounted on a military truck in Sana'a, Yemen, on October 20, 2014. (AP Photo/Hani Mohammed)

A Houthi Shi’ite rebel mans a machine gun mounted on a military truck in Sana’a, Yemen, on October 20, 2014. (AP Photo/Hani Mohammed)

Jeddah and Sana’a, Asharq Al-Awsat—Saudi Arabia’s Council of Ministers on Monday urged Yemen’s warring factions to work towards reconciliation, as the Shi’ite Houthi movement continued its push across the country, taking control of Hajjah Governorate on the Saudi-Yemeni border.

In a cabinet meeting on Monday chaired by Saudi Crown Prince Salman Bin Abdulaziz, Riyadh expressed its concerns about the deteriorating situation in Yemen. The Saudi cabinet urged “our brothers in Yemen of all political and religious stripes to give priority to national interest over narrow factional interests,” according to the Saudi Press Agency (SPA).

The Houthi movement continues to sweep across the country as Shi’ite militants loyal to Abdel Malik Al-Houthi tightened their grip on the city of Hajjah, the capital of a key province that shares a border with Saudi Arabia, Yemeni sources speaking on the condition of anonymity told Asharq Al-Awsat.

The sources claimed that the Houthi fighters faced little to no resistance from government forces.

Eyewitnesses informed Asharq Al-Awsat that militants were deployed across key areas in the city of Hajjah, adding that Houthi fighters had been present in other parts of the city for over a year.

Elsewhere, at least 30 Houthi fighters were reported killed after militants from the Al-Qaeda-linked Ansar Al-Shari’a group shelled and targeted their bases on the outskirts of the city of Rida’ in the central province of Baydah.

On the political front, Yemeni PM-designate Khaled Bahah met on Monday with the country’s political parties to discuss the formation of a new government.

Bahah urged political sides to nominate “technocrats rather than partisan figures or those from insurgent armed groups,” a source close to Bahah, who spoke to Asharq Al-Awsat on the condition of anonymity, said.

President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi also held a meeting on Monday with his board of advisers, attended by the PM-designate, to discuss ministerial candidates. Candidates from the Houthi movement and the Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated Al-Islah party were among those discussed, the source said.

The meeting “agreed in principle to accelerate the formation of the national partnership government, based on standards of integrity and competence and complete the tasks of the transitional period and the required procedures for the implementing the outcomes of the National Dialogue Conference,” the source added.

During the meeting, Hadi stressed the “necessity of the accurate and swift implementation of the terms stipulated by the peace and national partnership deal,” warning that the country could slide into civil war.

Speaking to Asharq Al-Awsat, Yemeni presidential adviser Dr. Faris Al-Saqqaf said Hadi has every right to lay out “red-lines” for the forthcoming phase of Yemen’s political transition.

“Civil war will be imminent unless the peace and partnership deal the government and Houthis signed on September 21 is implemented,” he added.