SANAA, Yemen (AP) — A group of oil-rich Arab Gulf countries threw their support behind Yemen’s embattled president Wednesday as the group’s chief visited Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi in the city he fled to amid the Shiite rebel power grab in the capital, Sanaa.
The U.N. Security Council also backed Hadi as “the legitimate president of Yemen” and reaffirmed its commitment to the country’s unity.
Hadi’s top aides said the Gulf Cooperation Council’s secretary-general, Abdullatif al-Zayani, visited the president in Aden. Hadi recently retracted the resignation he submitted after Shiite Houthi rebels held him under house arrest for a month in Sanaa.
The GCC includes Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar and Oman. The Gulf countries see the Houthis as an Iranian-backed group trying to expand the Shiite powerhouse’s influence in the region.
Hadi told al-Zayani that he called on all state and government institutions to move to Aden, according to a statement from his office.
The Houthis have warned foreign diplomats and state employees against viewing Hadi as Yemen’s legitimate leader. They also have arrested politicians trying to reach Aden.
On Wednesday, Abdullah Noaman, the leader the Nasserist party — one of Yemen’s main political parties — was held at Sanaa airport by Houthi rebels, a party official said.
A senior politician from Yemen’s Socialist Party said that he and other party members met with Houthi representatives late Tuesday. He said the Houthis warned them that if they head to Aden, their party risks being dissolved.
Later Wednesday, the Socialists declared they are pulling out of the U.N.-sponsored talks with the Houthis to protest the rebels’ crackdown on opposition protests in the capital earlier. It was not immediately possible to reach Houthi leaders for comment.
The Security Council called for all parties, especially the Houthis, to resolve differences through dialogue, reject violence, and refrain from actions that undermine Yemen’s transition to democracy. It also reaffirmed support for U.N. special adviser Jamal Benomar, who has been convening the talks.
Council members welcomed Hadi’s intention to participate in the talks and urged all parties to accelerate the negotiations.
The Houthis swept into Sanaa in September and recently dissolved parliament. They are Zayidi Shiites and had struck an alliance with ousted Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh, also a Zayidi.
Overnight, the Houthis took control of a major army base for Yemen’s U.S.-financed and trained special forces, led by commandos loyal to Saleh, according to officers who spoke to The Associated Press by telephone.
Hadi’s aides, the soldiers and others spoke on condition of anonymity as they were not authorized to speak to journalists.
Associated Press Writer Edith M. Lederer contributed to this report from the United Nations.