Gulf states demand Yemen Shia rebels quit Sanaa

AFP , Tuesday 9 Dec 2014

From left, Fahd Bin Mahmoud Al-Saeed, Omani Deputy Premier, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, the Kuwaiti Emir, Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah, Qatar's Emir, Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani, Bahrain's King Hamad bin Isa Al-Khalifa, Saudi Crown Prince Salman Bin Abdulaziz Al Saud and The GCC Secretary General, Dr. Abdullatif bin Rashid Al-Zayani pose for a photograph during a Gulf Cooperation Council summit in Doha, Qatar, Tuesday, Dec. 9, 2014 (Photo: AP)

Yemen's Gulf Arab neighbours urged Shia Huthi rebels to withdraw from Sanaa and other towns they have overrun since September, in a final statement after a summit in Doha.

Gulf leaders urged an "immediate pullout of Huthi militiamen from all regions they seized, and the return of all civil and army state institutions to the authorities and handover of seized weapons."

Yemeni authorities accuse Iran of backing the Huthis, also known as Ansarullah.

The Huthi militia swept south from its rugged northern stronghold to capture Sanaa on September 21 before extending its influence into central and west Yemen.

The unopposed Ansarullah offensive saw it take over several government arms depots including stores of heavy weaponry.

This further eroded the authority of the mostly Sunni Muslim state, already weakened by attacks from Al-Qaeda militants in the south and east, and by a southern separatist movement.

Leaders of the energy-rich Gulf Cooperation Council pledged support for Yemeni President Abdrabuh Mansur Hadi and called for dialogue to end the impoverished country's political impasse.

The Shia rebels have battled the government for years, complaining of marginalisation.

The violence has added to instability in Yemen since an uprising that led to the ouster of autocratic president Ali Abdullah Saleh in 2012.

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