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Yemen’s long-time president ‘Ali ‘Abd Allah Salih was killed 4 December when Houthi rebels his erstwhile allies shot him as he fled San’a. After months of tension with the Houthi leadership, Mr Salih called on his supporters to confront Houthi forces 2 December, leading to heavy clashes in the capital in which his forces were routed. He also suggested reconciliation with the Saudi-led coalition, confirming Houthi suspicions that Mr Salih would abandon the alliance.
Whilst an ever-controversial figure, Mr Salih would have been crucial to any conflict resolution effort. His big-tent General People’s Congress (GPC) could have moderated Houthi demands and provided Riyadh with a compromise platform. Mr Salih made a career navigating Yemen’s complicated political and social fabric, but his shift toward the Saudis was one shift too many.
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