SANAA – The leader of Yemen’s Houthis urged his militia on Sunday to fight on against Yemen’s Gulf Arab-backed government, dismissing its recapture of Aden last month as a “limited” achievement made possible by Ramadan.
In a speech live on television apparently aimed at shoring up the morale of his men, Abdel-Malek al-Houthi accused his foes of resorting to alliances with both the Islamic State militant group and Israel in their assault on the southern port city.
Houthi said Aden’s fall occurred only because some Houthis and allied fighters had returned home to be with their families at the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. He said a political solution to the country’s war was still possible.
“Continue and move in your resistance. You are in a strong position. And you are on the way to win,” he said. “We are in a battle, a great battle, in which we must use all our efforts.”
The government retook much of Aden in July, supported by airstrikes waged since late March by Saudi Arabia and its regional allies who are trying to end Houthi control over much of the country and return President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi from exile.
“The enemy, when it threw all its weight and carried out thousands of raids, succeeded in limited achievements. They took advantage of an opportunity,” Houthi said, referring to Ramadan.
“A political solution is still possible, internally,” he said of the four-month-old war, without elaborating.
A Saudi citizen was killed in shelling fired across the border from Yemen into the southwest of Saudi Arabia on Sunday, the official SPA news agency reported. A shell fell on a house around dawn in Najran province, civil defense department spokesman Ali bin Omair al-Shahran was quoted as saying.
The Houthi-controlled Saba news agency reported that Houthis and allies among army units loyal to former Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh fired artillery shells at al Radeef Saudi military site in Jizan, a southwest region of the kingdom.
The bombardment killed a number of Saudi soldiers, the agency said, quoting a military source. Reuters could not independently verify the information.
The Houthis and Saleh loyalists also shelled the al-Mazaab and al Ain Hara Saudi military camps in Jizan, it reported.
Yemeni Vice President Khaled Bahah arrived in Aden on Saturday, the most senior official from the government to visit since local fighters drove out the Iranian-backed Houthis.
Airport officials said Bahah, who is also prime minister, was accompanied by six ministers when he flew in from Riyadh, where the Yemeni government had been based since Hadi fled a Houthi advance on Aden in March.