They’ve been fighting the same enemies for awhile now, but today, Yemen’s Shi’ite Houthis have announced a formal alliance with former President Ali Abdullah Saleh, leading to the establishment of a new ruling council, with the seats to be split evenly between Houthis and Saleh’s General People’s Congress.
The two sides agree to continue working together against the Saudi-led invasion of the country, which aims to reinstall former President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi in power. The pro-Saudi forces control the southern coast, including Aden, while the Houthis control most of the north, including Sanaa.
Saleh was president of Yemen from its establishment in 1990 (and president of North Yemen from 1978-1990) through early 2012, when the US brokered a deal wherein then-General Hadi would be “elected” to a two-year term as president, in a one-candidate ballot.
Hadi ultimately extended his term in office, claiming he country wasn’t ready for an election, but lost the capital city of the Houthi government after a failed offensive against major Houthi cities in the far north. Hadi resigned in January of 2015, and Saudi Arabia attacked a few months later, vowing to reinstall him at all costs.
The Saudis had sought Saleh’s approval for the operation, since he remained influential, particularly with the former Yemeni military. Saleh declined, claiming he wanted to remain neutral, but sided with the Houthis after a Saudi airstrike destroyed his home in a failed assassination attempt.