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GCC will not take military steps in Yemen: Gulf official
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Yemeni protesters shout slogans against Houthi rebels who have seized power in the capital, Sana'a, as they celebrate the fourth anniversary of the uprising in Taiz, Yemen, on February 11, 2015. (AP Photo/Anees Mahyoub)

Yemeni protesters shout slogans against Houthi rebels who have seized power in the capital, Sana’a, as they celebrate the fourth anniversary of the uprising in Taiz, Yemen, on February 11, 2015. (AP Photo/Anees Mahyoub)

Riyadh, Asharq Al-Awsat—The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) has no plans to take military steps to safeguard its interests in neighboring Yemen following the Houthi takeover of power, a senior Gulf official told Asharq Al-Awsat.

The oil-rich organization strongly condemned what it described as a “blatant coup” by the Houthi rebels against the legitimate government of outgoing president Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi, warning that it undermined the peaceful transition of power and showed a disregard toward national stability.

The Houthi movement has emerged as the de facto ruler of Yemen, forcing Hadi to resign and announcing a controversial “constitutional declaration” last week that dissolved parliament and tightened the Houthis’ grip on power.

The GCC has called on the UN Security Council to act swiftly to put an end to the coup before Yemen descends into further chaos.

Speaking to Asharq Al-Awsat on the condition of anonymity, a senior GCC official said that coordination among the six member states was underway to formulate a firm stance towards the situation in Yemen.

The source, who refused to elaborate on the nature of the stance, said it would be announced on the sidelines of the GCC meeting of foreign ministers, scheduled to take place next Saturday, and will go beyond just recalling diplomatic missions.

“This Houthi coup is a dangerous escalation which we reject and is unacceptable. It totally contradicts the spirit of pluralism and coexistence which Yemen has known,” the GCC said in a statement carried by the state-owned Kuwait News Agency.

The GCC has urged the UN to take measures against the Houthi power grab and restore legitimacy to Hadi’s outgoing government.

The organization warned that the power vacuum in Yemen will pose a threat to regional stability by sucking radical Islamist fighters into the conflict in the impoverished Arabian Peninsula country.

The official said the GCC is aware of Iran’s role in the current turmoil in Yemen, reiterating what has become a common belief over a strong link between the Houthis and Tehran.

Yemen shares a 1,100-mile (1,770-kilometer) border with Saudi Arabia—the world’s largest oil exporter—to the north and with Oman to the east.

The GCC said the Houthi constitutional declaration both contradict “relevant international resolutions in Yemen and the Gulf Initiative, its Executive Mechanism and National Dialogue outcomes.”

A 2012 Gulf-sponsored initiative facilitated a smooth transition of power in Yemen following a public uprising that demanded the departure of former president Ali Abdullah Saleh.

The Gulf-brokered deal saw Saleh step down in favor of his vice president Hadi.

Also on Wednesday, tens of thousands of protesters took to the streets of Sana’a and other cities to decry the Houthi takeover and mark the fourth anniversary of the 2011 uprising that toppled Saleh.

The Houthis responded by sealing off roads, firing live bullets at protesters, and staging anti-Hadi protests.

Speaking to Asharq Al-Awsat Bassam Al-Barq of the Rafd (rejection) movement that organizes anti-Houthi protests said “militants attacked us with bullets and daggers, injuring two and kidnapping ten others.”

Armed members of the movement also tried to attack a protest in which the secretary-general of the Nasserist Unionist People’s Organization, Abdullah Noman, and outgoing culture minister Arwa Othman were participating, local activists told Asharq Al-Awsat.

The Islamist Al-Islah Party reported that three of its members were missing after they participated in an anti-Houthi protest on Wednesday.

In a statement the party accused “Houthi patrols” of kidnapping two of its leaders and an activist.

Arafat Madabish contributed reporting from Sana’a.