Riyadh (AFP) – Yemen’s president is to hold talks in Abu Dhabi on Tuesday as he attempts to repair relations with the United Arab Emirates, which has increasingly sidelined him in its three-year military intervention.
President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi is making the rare visit on the advice of King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia, where he lives in exile, Yemen’s government-run Saba news agency reported.
Saudi Arabia and the UAE sent troops to Yemen in 2015 with the stated goal of restoring Hadi to power after he fled the country as Huthi Shiite rebels overran most of the country.
But Hadi’s close relations with the Muslim Brotherood-dominated Islah party have infuriated Abu Dhabi, which has swung its support behind secessionists who want to restore the pre-1990 independence of south Yemen.
With UAE backing, in January the secessionists overran the main southern city of Aden where Hadi’s government has its headquarters.
UAE forces and their allies have also occupied several other key ports and islands, including the strategic Arabian Sea archipelago of Socotra, where Saudi Arabia too deployed troops last month as part of a deal to appease Hadi’s government.
The rift between Hadi and Abu Dhabi had largely overshadowed the war gainst the Huthi rebels who still control the capital Sanaa and much of the north.
But last month UAE troops launched a joint offensive with Hadi’s forces and their Saudi allies against the rebel-held Red Sea port of Hodeida.
The city, which has a population of some 600,000, is the entry point for 70 percent of Yemen’s imports, the vast of majority of them desperately needed food, and there has been mounting UN and Western pressure for a halt to the potentially bloody assault.