Yemen’s internationally-recognized President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi claimed 85 percent of the territory seized by Iran-backed Houthi insurgents, and forces loyal to previous president Ali Abdullah Saleh, has been recaptured.
Hadi was confident the capital of Sanaa would be retaken from the Houthis soon, following the liberation of two other cities, Taiz and Hudaidah.
“He admitted that Yemen would have fallen in four days and would have been an Iranian state had it not been for the Operation Decisive Storm launched by the Arab military coalition under the leadership of Saudi Arabia,” wrote the Saudi Gazette of its interview with Hadi. The Yemeni president said he had a “sublime, close and strong” relationship with Saudi King Salman and his government.
Hadi alleged that Iran built a factory in Yemen to supply the Houthis with Grad missiles, shipping the factory components in a container filled with children’s toys. He said a number of Yemen’s legitimate Iranian prisoners had been freed with the Houthis and were fighting alongside them, with two recently killed in battle.
Hadi also accused his predecessor Saleh of embezzling and extorting billions of dollars from Yemeni businessmen and of working with al-Qaeda and ISIS. He claimed to have survived no less than five assassination attempts, four of them organized by Saleh, going all the way back to the late nineties.
His plans for the future included arranging a plebiscite on the Yemeni constitution and helping to organize elections for his successor, but he asserted he would not run again himself. He wanted to build the Yemeni army to 3.7 million soldiers, which would involve recruiting or drafting well over half of the military-age male population.
According to Gulf News, Hadi gave an interview with the Saudi Okaz daily newspaper on Wednesday in which he described Saleh as a “paranoid murderer,” detailing his long string of attempts to hold power through nefarious means before the “Arab Spring” revolution swept him out of power in 2011. At that point, Saleh threw in with the Houthi insurgents and placed military forces loyal to him at their disposal.
In one anecdote, Hadi said that when he was Saleh’s vice president, he objected to Saleh’s plans for bombing protesters into submission, and Saleh retaliated by handing Hadi’s hometown of Abyan to al-Qaeda.