The Houthi-Saleh alliance collapsed in vicious fighting over the weekend that claimed dozens of lives in the capital, including that of former President Ali Abdullah Saleh himself:
A video by Yemen’s Houthi rebels purports to show the slain body of the country’s former president, Ali Abdullah Saleh.
Officials from various sides in the country’s civil war, including the Houthis’ opponents, have confirmed that the video shows the former strongman.
Saleh had been the president of North Yemen and then unified Yemen for more than thirty years when he was ousted in 2011, but his influence once out of office remained substantial. His alliance with the Houthis was always an opportunistic one, and he has previously fought six wars against them as president, so mutual interest had been the main thing that had held them together until now. Saleh seems to have gambled that turning against the Houthis was more to his advantage now, but if so he miscalculated. The Saudi-led coalition had likewise gambled on Saleh’s success, but like so many of their other plans it backfired. Saleh had been a fixture of Yemeni politics for so long that it is hard to know how his death will change things, but the effect will likely be significant.
The fighting in the capital over the weekend was already very destructive and caused many civilian casualties, and further fighting between the factions there will be even more devastating. If the breakdown of the Houthi-Saleh alliance prompts a coalition assault on the capital, the loss of life could be great. The humanitarian situation in the country continues to grow more dire as the coalition blockade deprives the population of essential food, fuel, and medicine. The civilian population needs a complete halt to the fighting now more than ever, but unfortunately that seems unlikely to follow these events.