DUBAI (Reuters) - Army officers loyal to former president Ali Abdullah Saleh, a powerful ally of Yemen’s Houthi militia, strongly reject any foreign intervention to end the country’s worsening conflict, a statement carried on a website affiliated to Saleh said.
Saleh is still highly influential in the military despite having given up power in 2011 after mass protests against his rule, and troops loyal to him are believed to be backing Houthi forces fighting his successor President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi.
Hadi, a political foe of Saleh’s, asked the U.N. Security Council on Tuesday to back military action by “willing countries” to combat an advance by the Houthis, who seized the capital in September and become Yemen’s de facto main power.
“We express our total and utter rejection of any external interference in Yemeni affairs under any pretext and in any form and from any side,” the so-called Higher Committee to Preserve the Armed Forces and Security said.
The statement by the Higher Committee added that all armed forces members “will confront with all their strength and heroism” any threat to Yemen’s unity and territorial integrity.
Hadi, a former general seen by the Shi’ite Muslim Houthis as a pawn of Sunni Gulf Arab monarchies and the West, has been holed up in Aden since he fled the capital Sanaa in February.
His forces have stationed tanks and artillery on a number of roads linking north and south Yemen. An array of tribesmen, militiamen and army units loyal to Hadi are resisting the Houthis’ advance and fighting has escalated since the weekend.
Reporting by Noah Browning, Writing by William Maclean