Fighting greets arrival of Yemen's new PM

Khaled Bahah meets with president after returning from New York where he was serving as country's ambassador to the UN.

    Yemen's new Prime Minister Khaled Bahah has arrived in Sanaa from New York, where he was serving as the country's ambassador to the UN, amid continuing fighting in the country.

    Baha, who was appointed earlier this month, held talks with President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi in the capital on Sunday.

    He was given 30 days to form a government on October 13 after rival political groups gave their backing to his selection.

    Bahah was chosen as prime minister just days after rebel Houthis rejected the appointment of Ahmed Awad bin Mubarak.

    Earlier on Sunday, Houthis stormed the office and home of the governor of Sanaa, after blowing up the house of a politician in Ibb province, where they had agreed to a ceasefire with local tribesmen, officials said.

    The rebels struck the house of a senior member of rival political group, the al-Islah party, in Yarim in Ibb province, just hours after signing the truce, while Iran gave its public backing to the Houthis.

    The Houthis have now taken control of Yarim, located about 170km south of Sanaa, where they encountered no resistance from the army.

    The AP news agency reported that the politician was not at home at the time of the attack, which set off clashes that left 12 people dead.

    Yarim has a population of more than 100,000 and lies along the main road to Yemen's southern provinces

    In Sanaa, the Houthis also stormed government buildings, calling for the resignation of the governor, who they accuse of corruption.

    Iranian backing

    Sunday's developments reflect the growing strength of the Houthis, who overran the capital Sanaa last month and captured a Red Sea port last week, along with a province south of the capital.

    The Islamic Republic of Iran supports the rightful struggles of [the Houthis] in Yemen, and considers the movement part of the successful Islamic Awakening.

    Ali Akbar Velayati, spokesman for Iran's Supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei

    Al Jazeera's Omar al-Saleh, reporting from Sanaa, said that there is a common belief that there is a hidden alliance between the Houthis and former president Ali Abdullah Saleh, a Zaidi Shia Muslim who stepped down in 2012.

    "They believe that without the backing of Saleh, the Houthis would not have been able to take the capital and other parts of the country," al-Saleh said.

    Late on Saturday, Ali Akbar Velayati, a spokesman for Iran's Supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, said in a meeting with a group of Yemeni clerics in Tehran that "the Islamic Republic of Iran supports the rightful struggles of Ansarullah [the Houthis] in Yemen, and considers the movement part of the successful Islamic Awakening".

    Al-Saleh said that Tehran's comments would not come as a surprise to many Yemenis, including politicians, who have consistently said that Iran backs the Houthis.

    He said that the situation in Yemen was seen be some as a proxy war between Shia Iran and Sunni Saudi Arabia, who are expected to be angered by Tehran's comments.

    The Houthis, who hail from the northern highlands and champion the interests of the Zaidi community who make up a fifth of Yemen's 25 million population, are starting to impose their authority outside the capital as well as in it.

    The group wants the northern part of the country to be one region instead of three and they are also seeking a bigger say in drafting the constitution.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies


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