Contrary to reports, Yemen’s former strongman was not murdered while trying to flee the capital Sana’a
Saleh was killed in his home fighting for his life
[SANA’A, YEMEN] A member of the Republican Guard and one who was in the tight security circle of former Yemeni president Ali Abdullah Saleh, first lieutenant Ali Abduh al-Faqieh, informed The Media Line that Saleh was actually killed in his home in Sana’a on the early hours of Monday morning at around 4:00 am when he was attacked by Houthis. Close inspection of the circulated video and photos of his dead body indicate that his head shot was caused post mortem and that the gunshots on his abdomen were probably what lead to his death. Photos also indicate that his hands are handcuffed to his back when he was heaved on the truck in the circulated video.
Al-Faqih was stationed in a building nearby Saleh’s house when the attack took place and was one of the few men who made it alive after Saleh was killed. “When the communication with my contact at Saleh’s house suddenly stopped and I saw that they were overwhelmed I realized that it was a lost battle and needed to send out a message to others on what happened,” he said. He managed to escape to the city of Dhamar where he is under the protection of his own tribe until the GPC new leadership provides instructions.
This story was confirmed by one of Saleh’s special security forces who was there in the house with Saleh and who is now in hiding. Officer M. H., who spoke to The Media Line on condition of anonymity for fear of being harmed, said Saleh was portrayed by the Houthis as killed while fleeing for his life in order to humiliate him further and discredit him as a leader in front of his supporters. There have been speculation as to why this cunning meticulous leader who ran Yemen for over three decades was traveling without much security and was caught easily by the Houthis.
“A large group of men wearing the same uniforms as us – of the Special Forces and Republican Guard – came to us from behind Sakhr street where we were based with Saleh and we thought they were the backup we were waiting for, but they started attacking us and that is why we lost,” he said, explaining that he and a few others managed to flee for their lives through the neighbors when Saleh was captured and killed.
This is the second house of Saleh in Sana’a that was attacked that night after his first house in Shou’ub area was attacked and the Houthis showed a video on their TV channel indicating that they have entered it and are in search of Saleh. They also attacked Saleh’s son, Ahmed’s house in the al-Sabeen area the same day. Houthi intelligence eventually informed them that he was in his house behind Sakhr street.
There is in fact another dimension to Saleh’s undoing which was caused by himself as per Yemeni political analyst and journalist Obaid Ba Fateem who said that the Yemeni tribes from Saleh’s town of Sanhan and other armed groups would have defended Saleh in his war against the Houthis last week had he not spoken favorably about making a deal with Saudi Arabia, the country that was portrayed for over three years as the enemy of the Yemeni people in the north, bombarding their capital.
“Houthis understood the mentality of the tribes and used his own media against him especially since they were winning the Sana’a battle, so the Houthis portrayed him as a betrayer of his own people joining ranks with the Saudis,” said Ba Fateem. This in addition to the atrocities the Houthis have committed during the three-day conflict in the capital against anyone who supported Saleh, including the bombing of some less influential tribal sheikhs’ homes which sent a message to the tribes that Houthis mean business and that they are the power to side with.
On another front, an Iranian official specialized on Yemen, Mustafa, said that despite the fact that in 2014 Saleh had allied with Iran, the Iranian authorities never fully trusted him knowing his past. “He was a deceiver, dancing on many fronts, we monitored his communications and knew he was turning his back on us and therefore instructed the Houthis not to trust him. Even though just last month Saleh had called on Iran to support him with weapons, we never did and told the Houthis not to stand by him anymore,” he said.
The fact remains that Houthis have made it public more than once that they have not forgotten that Saleh was the one who killed their leader, Hussien Badr Aldin al-Houthi, almost eight years ago in 2004 and have always vowed to avenge this. One of the men who was carrying his dead body on the truck in the video was shouting: “this is for you my lord Hussien!”