GCC moves to legitimize Aden as Yemen’s capital

Article Summary
The secretary-general of the Gulf Cooperation Council visited the Yemeni president in Aden to affirm the Gulf states’ commitment to resisting Houthi control in the country.

On Feb. 25, the Gulf states became engaged in the Yemeni crisis when Abdul Latif al-Zayani, secretary-general of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), visited Aden. Demands have increased to turn Aden into the capital of Yemen. During his visit, he met with President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi, who withdrew his resignation amid talk of plans to open Gulf embassies in the south of the city. This sounded alarm bells of division in the country.

Zayani is the first prominent Arab and regional official that Hadi has received in Aden since his escape from his residence in Sanaa last Saturday [Feb. 21], where he was under house arrest.

Hadi met with Zayani and the accompanying Gulf delegation, which included the six GCC state ambassadors. The meeting took place at the Republican Palace in the economic capital of Aden and constituted an important step in confirming the great support the former president is receiving from the Gulf states.

The Gulf delegation discussed with Hadi several conflict-related issues in Yemen, in addition to the issue of re-opening Gulf embassies in Aden after closing them in Sanaa.

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Aden Governor Abdul Aziz al-Habtour told the Kuwaiti Al-Seyassah newspaper, "Several ambassadors who left Sanaa called Hadi, asking to meet with him, and expressed their desire to return to Yemen and ultimately move their embassies to Aden [from Sanaa], where they would resume work."

Sources present at the meeting told Reuters that “Zayani reiterated the Gulf states’ support for Hadi’s constitutional legitimacy as president of Yemen and for all the measures and steps he has taken since his recent escape.”

Zayani told journalists following the meeting that his visit to Aden “is an affirmation of the Gulf states’ ongoing support for the constitutional legitimacy that Hadi represents.” He noted that the GCC delegation discussed with Hadi the importance of returning to the political process, the Gulf initiative, the UN Security Council resolutions and the outcome of the national dialogue. The delegation reiterated the GCC states’ support for Hadi currently and in the future. Zayani also renewed the GCC states’ refusal for the Houthis to take over power.

Hadi praised the GCC’s stance, saying, “The visit of Zayani and GCC ambassadors is a token of support for constitutional legitimacy.”

Hadi discussed the current situation in Yemen with the Gulf delegation and called for all constitutional and governmental institutions to resume their work from the commercial and economic capital of Yemen, Aden, and to hold a meeting as part of the National Dialogue Conference in Aden or Tai’zz.

On another note, Tehran denied US Secretary of State John Kerry’s accusations that Iran helped Houthis seize power in Yemen. A spokeswoman for the Iranian Foreign Ministry, Marzieh Afkham, said that while Kerry blames Iran, his statements completely contradict previous US officials’ statements.

According to the official news agency, Afkham asserted that Iran believes in people’s right to decide their future. He said, “All parties should allow the Yemeni people to decide the fate of their country themselves and to allow the adoption of mechanisms that are in line with the people’s demands and will.”

Afkham said, “Any foreign intervention in Yemeni political developments will only contribute to the persistence of the crisis and lack of security.” She asserted that “such intervention would drive the country into more complications.”

On Feb. 24, Kerry accused Iran of “contributing” to the Houthis’ takeover in Yemen. He stressed to members of the US Congress the importance of Tehran’s support for the Houthis.

On the other hand, soldiers from the Yemeni army's special forces said that Houthi gunmen seized control of the camp [Feb. 26] and also the coast guard center on the Red Sea. Clashes lasted for about six hours, they said, beginning at dawn when the Houthis bombed the center with heavy weapons, killing at least 10 people.

Not too long after the exchange of fire, the coast guard in the costal city of Hodeidah fell under [Houthi] control. Military sources did not confirm any injuries.

According to Reuters military sources, the United States had been training special forces soldiers and providing them with weapons to combat terrorism during the rule of former President Ali Abdullah Saleh. Moreover, according to UN-appointed investigators in a report to the UN Security Council, Saleh has made a fortune worth $60 billion through corruption, which is equivalent to Yemen’s annual GDP during his rule.

The UN report reflects criticism from Saleh’s opponents. They stressed that corruption was rampant under his reign and that he continued to push for the destabilization of the country even when he left office in 2012.

The UN experts stated: “Saleh is said to have had collected funds ranging between $32 and $60 billion through corrupt practices in his capacity as the president of Yemen, especially in the gas and oil contracts. Reports show that he demanded money in exchange for granting companies exclusive rights to explore oil and gas.”

According to the report, most of Saleh’s wealth has been transferred abroad under fake names or under the names of people owning assets on his behalf. His fortune includes real estate, cash, gold and other precious commodities. It is said that he distributed his wealth in at least 20 states.

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Found in: yemen, houthis, gulf cooperation council, ali abdullah saleh, aden, abed rabbo mansour hadi
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