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Yemen ex-president, his allies, may face UN sanctions

Five high-profile Yemenis, including former president Ali Abdullah Saleh, may face UN-imposed sanctions for derailing the country's transition
Ousted Yemeni president Ali Abdullah Saleh (AFP)

The United Nations is preparing to impose sanctions on five high-profile Yemenis including the country's former president, Ali Abdullah Saleh, according to Al-Jazeera.

The five, who include Saleh's son Ahmed Ali as well as three leaders of the Shiite rebel Houthi group, were singled out for derailing Yemen's democratic transition which the UN is overseeing.

Saleh, whose 33-year reign ended in 2012 after a popular uprising, has been accused of backing the Houthis, a group he fought for years when in office, to re-establish his influence over the country’s politics.

His son Ahmed Ali, dismissed as head of the Republican Guard by president Hadi in 2012, is Yemen's ambassador to the United Arab Emirates who Yemeni officials have also accused of backing the Houthis in an effort to weaken Yemen's Muslim Brotherhood, al-Islah.

Analysts say that imposing sanctions on Ahmed Saleh, would be difficult given his diplomatic immunity.

The three Houthis listed are the group's 32-year-old leader Abdulmalik al-Houthi, his brother Abdulkhaleq al-Houthi and military leader Abu Ali al-Hakem.

accuse Saleh of backing the Houthis, a group he fought for years when in office, both tacitly and directly, to weaken Hadi and chart a path for a return to power. - See more at: http://www.middleeasteye.net/news/out-ashes-yemens-saleh-trying-make-comeback-613849865#sthash.XnktlnkZ.Dd2ni8X7.dpuf

Some Yemenis said they were pleased at the prospect of Saleh facing justice while others fear the sanctions may prevent the country moving forward.

"Sanctions should have been imposed on Saleh after he stepped down. Now I fear the sanctions will only destablise things more," Ahmed al-Malsi, an accounting student at Sanaa Univeristy, told Middle East Eye.

Al-Malsi pointed out that many other figures in Yemen are implicated in allegations of corruption and stand accused of disrupting the transition.

"It is right to point the finger at these five, but there are hundreds more who have stolen and sabotaged the transition, they should be punished too," he said.

The Houthis, who now control the capital Sanaa and several other provinces, hail from the northern highlands and are increasingly imposing their authority outside the capital as well as in it.

On the ground in Yemen at least 60 people were killed in Yemen as clashes raged between Houthi fighters and Al-Qaeda militants backed by Sunni tribesmen battling for territory in the strife-hit country, sources said Monday.

The Houthis have been facing fierce resistance from Al-Qaeda fighters and tribesmen as they seek to expand their areas of control after seizing the capital Sanaa and the Red Sea port city of Hudeida.

A suicide bomber killed 15 people on Monday, including children, when he detonated his explosives-laden car near a rebel checkpoint in the town of Rada, south of Sanaa, witnesses and a tribal source said.

The fighting has raised fears of Yemen -- located next to oil kingpin Saudi Arabia and important shipping routes in the Gulf of Aden -- collapsing into a failed state.

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