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Yemeni President Hadi ‘under house arrest’ in Riyadh


Saudi Arabia has barred Yemen’s president, along with his sons, ministers and military officials, from returning home for months. The officials said the ban was prompted by enmity between President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi and the United Arab Emirates, which is part of the Saudi-led coalition against Houthi rebels and has come to dominate southern Yemen, the portion of the country not under rebel control. Hadi and much of his government have been in the Saudi capital Riyadh for most of the war. Saudi Arabia and the UAE are the two main pillars of the coalition, which is ostensibly defending Hadi’s government and is battling the Shia rebels, known as Houthis. The coalition has waged an air campaign against the rebels since 2015, and the UAE has a strong military presence in southern Yemen – but the Houthis still control the north. Yemenis denounce Saudi siege as ‘collective punishment’ Saudi Arabia intensified its blockade on Yemen on Sunday, closing land crossings and all traffic to Yemen’s air and sea ports. A UN agency warned ships to depart Houthi-controlled ports, and flights to the only functioning airports in southern Yemen were cancelled. As night fell, prices of fuel hiked in Sanaa, with some petrol stations closed, and drivers queued to fill their tanks, fearing worsening fuel shortage. The coalition move came after the Houthis fired a missile towards Riyadh, their deepest strike into the Kingdom. Hadi’s inability to get back to southern Yemen underscores the president’s loss of authority – even in the south that is nominally under his administration.  Two other Yemeni officials confirmed that Hadi, his sons and several ministers with him in Riyadh have been prevented from going to Yemen. They spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorised to discuss the situation. Coalition Spokesman Colonel Turki al-Malaki referred any questions related to Hadi to his own office and government. Attempts to reach Yemen’s foreign minister and government spokesman were unsuccessful.

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