Houthis offer Saudi princes political asylum in Yemen

Rebels say their offer is ‘100 percent genuine’, days after 11 Saudi princes were detained in an anti-corruption purge.

Mohammed bin Salman
Mohammed bin Salman, the heir to the Saudi throne, initiated the kingdom's brutal war in Yemen [Charles Platiau/Reuters]

Houthi rebels say they are willing to offer Saudi princes political asylum in Yemen, days after Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman carried out the biggest anti-corruption purge in the kingdom’s modern history.

A source close to the Houthi leadership told Al Jazeera on Tuesday that any Saudi prince or national seeking refuge would be “welcomed” by Yemen, their “brotherly neighbour”.

“We are ready to offer sanctuary to any member of the Al Saud family or any Saudi national that wants to flee oppression and persecution,” said the source, speaking on condition of anonymity.

The offer was “100 percent genuine” and the Houthis were not interested in gaining any “political mileage” from the situation, the source added.

On Sunday, 11 princes, four ministers, and several former ministers were detained in what is seen as an unprecedented crackdown that has shaken the kingdom.

The list of detainees includes Saudi Arabia‘s best-known international investor, billionaire Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, and senior ministers who were recently sacked such as Prince Miteb bin Abdullah, head of the National Guard, and Adel Faqih, the economy minister.

Following the announcement, Mohammed Ali al-Houthi, president of the Houthi-led Revolutionary Committee, and cousin of the group’s leader, Abdel-Malik al-Houthi, said any Saudi “targeted by the regime” would be accepted in Yemen.

“To our fellow Al Saud royals, to anyone in the ruling family, to any employee or person who feels targeted by the regime – we’re ready to welcome you with open arms to reside with us as our oppressed brothers,” Houthi wrote on Twitter

The shake-up of the Saudi government comes just months after King Salman replaced his nephew Mohammed bin Nayef with his son Mohammed as the kingdom’s crown prince.

Mohammed bin Salman, 32, is responsible for spearheading the war in Yemen that has killed at least 10,000 people, wounded 40,000 others, and pushed the country to the brink of famine.

The military operation has also been blamed for the spread of cholera, where an estimated 500,000 Yemenis have been afflicted.

Source: Al Jazeera