Yemen Government Accuses U.A.E. of Backing Coup in Aden

(Bloomberg) -- Yemen’s foreign ministry accused the United Arab Emirates of helping separatists stage a coup against the government in Aden and demanded the withdrawal of its military support, according to a statement from Vice Minister Mohammed Al-Hadhrami.

The government “blames the Southern Transitional Council and U.A.E. for the consequences of the coup,” according to the statement, “at the same time requests the U.A.E. to stop the support and pull out its military support from these rebellious groups.” Separatist forces on Saturday said they seized the presidential palace in Aden.

The Saudi-led coalition battling the rebels late Saturday urged the rebels to leave the positions they seized, called for a cease-fire in Aden and threatened to use force for any violations, Arabiya reported. The Saudis also invited the rebels to a meeting to resole differences, the Saudi Press Agency reported.

Saudi Arabia reiterated support for the “legitimate government,” Defense Minister Khalid bin Salman said Saturday in a series of tweets. “We reject any use of arms in Aden and breach of security and stability,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Shiite Houthi rebels said that they will release plans for a national reconciliation initiative, hoping that it will be taken seriously, according to the rebel-held Saba news agency.

Earlier, separatist forces took control of the presidential palace in the southern port city of Aden without opposition from officers and soldiers guarding the building, eyewitnesses and the leader of forces controlled by the transitional council said.

Local media showed a clip of Mukhtar al-Noubi of the council of the separatists saying the forces negotiated with the presidential guards and they were allowed to exit with their personal weapons. Eyewitness Murad Mohammed said by phone that he saw dozens of the guards leaving the palace.

Rebels earlier had seized a third military base in Aden, where fighting between the two sides entered its fourth day, separatist leaders, eyewitnesses and media said Saturday.

The United Arab Emirates, which is scaling back its troop presence in Yemen, expressed “grave concern” about the fighting, according to state-run Wam news agency. The conflicting parties, both of which the U.A.E. is allied to, should focus efforts on confronting “the main front,” referring to the Iran-backed Houthi rebels the Saudi-led coalition is fighting a war against.

At least 45 people, including civilians and fighters, died in clashes overnight at the Fourth Brigade camp, the Associated Press reported. Another five civilians were killed in the surrounding Dar Saad neighborhood, raising the death toll to 70 people killed in the fighting in Aden this week.

Separatists seized the Badr military base in Khour Maksar district as well as the house of the deputy prime minister and minister of interior Ahmed Al-Maisari in al-Mansurah district. Forces controlled by the Southern Transitional Council (STC) captured the third and fourth presidential brigades bases, STC Vice President Hani Bin Buraik said earlier on Twitter.

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