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Yemen’s new leaders say focussed on peace path

RIYADH (AFP) – Yemen’s new leaders are “ready for war” should the latest push for peace with Huthi rebels fail, but a senior official told AFP they genuinely want the years-long conflict to end soon.

“Our first option is peace, but we are ready for war,” Abdullah al-Alimi said late Saturday in his first interview since being named to an eight-member leadership council tasked with running the country after President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi stepped down earlier this month.

“We believe the council is in a position, with the coalition support, to score a decisive military victory,” Alimi told AFP in the Saudi capital.

Hadi’s internationally recognised government had been locked in conflict for seven years against the Iran-backed Huthis, who control the capital Sanaa and most of the north despite a Saudi-led coalition’s military intervention launched in 2015. The war has killed hundreds of thousands directly or indirectly, and triggered what the United Nations calls the world’s worst humanitarian crisis, with millions on the brink of famine.

Hadi’s April 7 announcement handing power to the council came at the end of talks in the Saudi capital Riyadh that brought together anti-Huthi factions but were boycotted by the Huthis themselves.