Saleh's nephew, presumed dead, reappears in boost for opponents of Yemen rebels

Major General Tariq Saleh was reported killed during fighting between Saleh's forces and Houthis in December

General Tariq Saleh, a nephew of former Yemeni leader Ali Abdullah Saleh, puts on his coat at the Republican Palace in Sanaa January 10, 2011. Tariq has resigned from his post as commander of an elite military unit, officials said on May 3, 2012, part of a drive by the country's new U.S.-allied government to unite its army in order to fight al Qaeda. U.N. envoy Jamal Benomar told Reuters that Tariq Saleh, who earlier headed the Presidential Guard, had relinquished his new post as head of the 3rd Republican Guard brigade. Picture taken January 10, 2011. REUTERS/Khaled Abdullah (YEMEN - Tags: POLITICS CIVIL UNREST MILITARY) - GM1E8540DT801
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A nephew of former Yemeni president Ali Abdullah Saleh who was believed to have been killed along with his uncle last month by Houthi rebels, their former allies, appeared alive and well on Thursday and called for co-operation with Saudi Arabia in ending Yemen's civil war.

Major General Tariq Mohammed Abdullah Saleh appeared in Shabwa province on Thursday to offer condolences to the family of Aref Al Zouka, the secretary general of Saleh's General People's Congress (GPC) party who was killed along with the former president.

"He arrived in Shaabt Ateeq in Al Saeed district in Shabwa province and he was received by Al Awaliq tribes and Al Zouka's family members and other leaders from the GPC party in Shabwa, with whom he had a meeting after visiting Al Zouka's family," a source in Shabwa told The National.

A short video clip of Maj Gen Saleh's visit was posted on Yemeni news websites and widely shared on social media.

"Our hands are stretched to our brothers in Saudi Arabia to bring security and peace back to Yemen," he said while addressing supporters.

The GPC had said on December 5 that Maj Gen Saleh, who led a brigade of the elite Republican Guards during his uncle's presidency, had died in hospital after being struck by shrapnel.

Heavy fighting broke out in Sanaa in early December after Saleh broke off his alliance with the Iran-backed Houthi rebels and called for talks with the Saudi-led coalition fighting on behalf of the internationally recognised government.

The Houthis killed Saleh just days later, on December 4, and launched a crackdown on his supporters, forcing many to flee Sanaa to escape arrest or death.

Maj Gen Saleh's re-emergence at this point will give new impetus to the battle against the Houthis and offer hope to Saleh loyalists, Yemeni political analyst Mansour Saleh told The National.

He said the former president's nephew would be a reliable partner for the coalition in the battle to retake Sanaa, which was captured by the Houthis in September 2014. The pro-government forces who have been closing in on Sanaa appear to be hesitant to push forward because they do not have allies in the capital, which is a crucial role that can be played by Maj Gen Saleh, Mr Saleh said.

The Saudi-led coalition intervened in the Yemen war in March 2015 to restore president Abdrabu Mansur Hadi to power after the Houthis, backed by Saleh's supporters, forced him into exile.


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