Yemen’s president could be assassinated if he leaves Saudi Arabia and returns to the war-ravaged country, a Yemeni official has warned.
The government official told Al Jazeera that the kingdom feared for President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi’s life, and “urged” the 72-year-old to avoid returning to Yemen’s coastal city of Aden.
The official also rubbished media reports from earlier this week that claimed Hadi was being held under house arrest in Riyadh.
“Claims that Hadi is under house arrest are complete rubbish,” the official said on condition of anonymity because he was not authorised to talk to the media.
“Hadi can go anywhere he wants, he can even travel abroad, but from what I understand there is a real risk to his life should he return to Aden.”
Hadi and much of his government have been based in Riyadh since 2015 when Houthi rebels, in cooperation with troops loyal to Hadi’s predecessor, former President Ali Abdullah Saleh, captured large expanses of the country, including Sanaa, the capital of Yemen.
“There are forces there that would like to see him targeted, and that’s why the Saudis don’t feel it’s right for him to come back. They have urged him to stay in Riyadh until the security situation improves,” the official added.
The official did not say which forces wanted to “target” Hadi, but large parts of the south and south-east are under the control of the United Arab Emirates and militias backed by Abu Dhabi.