Nov 7, 2014 12:53 PM
Thousands rally against US in Yemeni capital
The Associated Press
ADEN, Yemen (AP) Thousands of supporters of Yemen's ousted president Ali Abdullah Saleh and Shiite rebels who have overrun the country's capital rallied in Sanaa on Friday, denouncing the United States over its push for sanctions against Saleh and rebel leaders.
The U.S. is seeking United Nations sanctions against the former president and two leaders of the Houthi rebels, accusing them for acting as "spoilers" causing Yemen's latest unrest. All 15 Security Council members must approve sanctions for them to take effect.
Saleh stepped down in 2011 as part of a U.S.-backed, Gulf-brokered deal after months of protests against his rule. But backers of his successor, Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi, accuse him of undermining Hadi. Many believe Saleh helped Houthi rebels the past months has they swept into the capital, Sanaa. Saleh has remained a powerful political player, with his party still holding many positions in government and the security forces.
The protesters in Sanaa in much smaller numbers than usual on Friday carried posters urging the U.S. ambassador to get out of the country.
Saleh's party this week accused the American ambassador of telling the former president to leave Yemen by Friday or face sanctions. Washington vehemently denied making any such demand, but the party's claim has stoked anger of alleged U.S. "interference."
Even some in the Sunni Islamist Islah party a sharp opponent of the Houthis and Saleh joined the anger. In parliamen Thursday, a leading Islah lawmaker, Mansour al-Zindani, demanded both the American ambassador and the U.N. envoy to Yemen leave the country. The Islah party later issued an apology for his comments.
The Houthis, who belong to the Zaydi branch of Shia Islam, fought their way out of their stronghold in the north and took control of Sanaa in September, largely by defeating forces loyal of the Islah party. The past month they have made further gains toward central Yemen, at times fighting al-Qaida's branch in the country.
In a new audio clip posted online Friday, the head of Yemen's al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, Nasser al-Wahishi, sought to rally Sunnis to his group, accusing the United States of aligning itself with the Houthis and with Shiite Iran to "draw a new map to the Muslim world, to divide what is already divided."
Al-Wahishi said the alliance is clear in Yemen, where "Americans are in the air while Houthis are on the ground," a reference to drone strikes and Houthis' battles against al-Qaida. The Houthis' opponents accuse them of being a proxy for Iran, a claim the group and Tehran deny.
In southern Yemen, special forces killed an al-Qaida operative, Turki al-Asseri, as known as by the nom de guerre Marawan al-Makni, in the city of Lahj, an al-Qaida stronghold, a security official said, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk to the press.
Earlier this week, drone strikes in the central city of Radda killed a senior al-Qaida figure, Shawki Ali Ahmed al-Badani, designated by the U.S. as a global terrorist. The United States has been waging a campaign of drone strikes for years against the group, which carried out a string of attempted attacks on American soil.