President Abd Rabbu Mansour Hadi yesterday accused the Shia Houthi militia that controls Sanaa, the capital of Yemen, of a coup against him, and said he would “raise Yemen’s flag” in the Houthis’ northern stronghold.
In a call to arms from the southern city of Aden, where he fled last month, Mr Hadi called on them to pull their forces out of state ministries, return weapons seized from the army, and quit Sanaa.
The Houthis, in a statement from their Supreme Revolutionary Committee, did not directly respond to the televised speech, but called for a “general mobilisation” of armed forces against a “dirty war” being waged by militias loyal to Mr Hadi.
Yemen has been hurtling towards civil war since last year when Mr Hadi’s flight to Aden raised fears of armed confrontation between rival governments based in the north and south.
More than 130 people died on Friday in bombings of two Shia mosques in Sanaa. The attacks were claimed by Islamic State (Isis), but some analysts were sceptical. But the entrance of Isis into Yemen marks a significant turn in Yemen’s political crisis.