Yemen foes square off as fears of war, Saudi-Iran rivalry grow

Anti-Houthi protesters demonstrate in Yemen’s southwestern city of Taiz March 23, 2015. REUTERS/Anees Mahyoub

(Reuters) – Yemen’s top factions are squaring off for battle after months of skirmishes, turning respectively to neighboring Saudi Arabia and its regional rival Iran for help in what may become all-out war.

With President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi seeking a comeback from the port city of Aden while the Shi’ite Houthi movement controls the capital Sanaa, rival administrations are trading bellicose rhetoric as fighting intensifies and factions commandeer airfields for the next stage of the struggle.

Somewhat on the sidelines, al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) and Islamic State are waiting to exploit what some fear could become Yemen’s worst conflict since a 1994 civil war.

“For years Yemen has defied all the odds and proved wrong those who said it was on the brink of civil war and about to collapse,” Farea al-Muslimi, a researcher with the Carnegie Middle East Center said. “But we may have run out of miracles.”

Yemeni Foreign Minister Riyadh Yaseen called on Monday for Gulf Arab help to prevent the Houthis’ getting air control…


Related: Background, here and here.

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Pro-Houthi police troopers use tear gas to disperse anti-Houthi protesters in Yemen's southwestern city of TaizPro-Houthi police troopers use tear gas to disperse anti-Houthi protesters in Yemen’s southwestern city of Taiz March 23, 2015. REUTERS/Anees Mahyoub

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