Abu Dhabi reportedly demanded that Ahmed Ali Saleh be stood down as ambassador for undisclosed reasons
The son of former Yemeni leader Ali Abdullah Saleh, accused of backing the Houthi rebellion, has been sacked as ambassador to the United Arab Emirates, officials said on Monday.
Ahmed Ali Saleh was relieved of his duties at the demand of the UAE, according to a Gulf diplomatic official who spoke to AFP and did not want to be named.
The UAE is a member of an Arab coalition waging an air war on Houthi rebels and military units loyal to Saleh that have risen up against President Abd Rabbuh Mansour Hadi.
A Hadi aide confirmed that the president had dismissed Ahmed Ali Saleh as ambassador but said it had not yet been officially announced.
Middle East Eye reported last year that Ahmed Ali Saleh had been meeting covertly with Emirati and Saudi officials to build support for the Houthis in undermining the Islah movement in Sanaa. Islah is the Yemeni branch of the Muslim Brotherhood, deemed a terrorist organisation by both Saudi Arabia and the UAE, and both of the powerful Gulf states have pursued a regional policy of repressing the group.
It was reported by Al Arabiya on Saturday that Saleh had approached Saudi Arabia two days prior to the beginning of airstrikes against Houthi targets and offered to turn against the Houthis in exchange for immunity for him and his father.
It was not clear why Saleh would have requested immunity for him and his father, given that a 2012 Gulf-brokered deal saw the former president Ali Abdullah Saleh step down from power on condition that he remained in Yemen with immunity from prosecution.
With war raging across the country, current – but embattled – President Hadi has taken refuge in neighbouring Saudi Arabia.
Ali Abdullah Saleh was president for more than three decades until stepping down in 2012 after a bloody year-long uprising.
His son was afterwards named ambassador to the UAE but is believed to have remained in Yemen.
Foreign diplomats in Abu Dhabi said they had not seen him since his appointment.
Previously he had commanded the Republican Guard, which remains loyal to his father.