Yemen turning back from the brink

Events have positively unfolded today in Yemen, perhaps altering the trajectory of the conflict and averting further suffering. First, the Iranian flotilla of armed Naval vessels and cargo ships thought to be carrying supplies for the Houthi rebels has changed course, possibly in reaction to the US Navy force in the area including the recently arrived USS Theodore Roosevelt.

Yemeni Foreign Minister Riyadh Yassin accused Tehran Thursday of trying to break a naval blockade on his country, describing the war as an “Iranian plot implemented by the Huthi militia”.

A US official said Thursday the nine-ship Iranian convoy that had been heading for Yemen is “no longer on the same course”.

The USS Theodore Roosevelt aircraft carrier and other American warships have deployed off Yemen’s coast to track the Iranian flotilla and possibly prevent any arms deliveries to the rebels.

The flotilla included two “armed vessels,” said the US official.

It was possible the Iranians “could make a turn to Yemen at any time,” the official added.

Iran vehemently denies arming the rebels and has presented a peace plan to the UN calling for a ceasefire and the formation of a unity government.

Later in the day Ali Abdullah Saleh, the former President of Yemen who the Houthi rebels were trying to bring back to power, called for his supporters to withdraw from areas under their control.

Ousted Yemeni President has called upon his allies, Shiite rebels whose power grab triggered a month-long Saudi-led offensive, to comply with a U.N. resolution which obligates them to withdraw from the cities they occupy.

Referring to the Houthis by their alternative name, Ansar Allah, Saleh said, “I call upon Ansar Allah to accept the Security Council resolutions and implement them,” in return for an end to the Saudi-led coalition offensive.