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Saudis fail at their own conspiracy

The fiasco surrounding the death of former Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh shows how Washington needs to help Saudi Arabia end the war on its neighbor.
Houthi followers rally to celebrate the killing of Yemen's former president Ali Abdullah Saleh in Sanaa, Yemen December 5, 2017. REUTERS/Khaled Abdullah     TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY - RC1C20D49F70

Saudi Arabia sought to divide the uneasy alliance between the Houthi rebels and former President Ali Abdullah Saleh for months. But when the 75-year-old Saleh moved against his onetime ally, the Saudis had no plan to assist him against the Houthis or to exploit the breakup. The outcome leaves Riyadh even more tied down in an expensive quagmire and raises more questions about the Saudi leadership.

The Houthi-Saleh alliance was always a tense and unlikely accommodation to temporarily shared interests. While he was president, Saleh fought a series of largely unsuccessful military campaigns against the Houthis. The Saudis provided assistance to Saleh. When Saleh was removed from the presidency in favor of his deputy Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi after an unsuccessful attempt to assassinate Saleh, the Houthis and Saleh began cautiously to cooperate together. At first their conspiracy was clandestine, but after the Houthis seized Sanaa, the allies came out of the closet.

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