First Published: 2017-12-14

Saudi, UAE hold talks with Yemen Islamists
Gulf states hold rare talks with al-Islah party, ignoring its close links with Muslim Brotherhood as they review strategy against Iran-backed rebels in Yemen.
Middle East Online

King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud meets with Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan in Riyadh.

RIYADH - Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have held rare talks with Yemen's Al-Islah party, ignoring its close links with the Muslim Brotherhood as they review strategy against Shiite rebels.

Both countries have outlawed the Brotherhood as a terrorist group and the UAE even sponsored rival Sunni Islamist groups in Yemen.

But after the failure of an attempted uprising early this month against the rebels by their erstwhile ally former president Ali Abdullah Saleh, the two governments have been forced to review strategy in their nearly three-year-old military intervention.

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and his Abu Dhabi counterpart Mohammed bin Zayed received the Islamist party's chairman and secretary general in Riyadh late on Wednesday, the official Saudi Press Agency reported.

It was an opportunity to "review the situation in Yemen and efforts to restore security and stability for the Yemeni people," SPA said.

Al-Islah was long a major military as well as political force in Yemen but its forces pulled back from the capital and the rest of the north as the rebels took control and are now largely confined to Marib province, east of Sanaa.

The movement is nominally part of the alliance supporting President Abderabbo Mansour Hadi but so far it has played only a minor part in the actual fighting against the Huthi rebels.

Saudi Arabia has not cut off all contact with parties linked to the Brotherhood, but the UAE had previously pursued a policy of "zero tolerance" toward Al-Islah, considered close to arch rival Qatar.

Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt cut off all diplomatic and economic ties with Qatar in June, mainly over Doha's links to the Brotherhood.

During the past year, the UAE has trained elite Yemeni forces to fight both the Huthis and Al-Qaeda.

 

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