US hints at contact with Yemen’s Houthis

WASHINGTON – The U.S. hinted Tuesday that it is in contact with Yemen’s Shiite Houthi rebels.

“U.S. government officials are in communication with various parties in Yemen,” Pentagon press secretary John Kirby told reporters.

“The Houthis, as participants in these events will certainly have reason to want to speak to international partners and the international community about their intentions and about how this process is going to unfold,” he said, stressing that there is no intelligence sharing with the rebels.                                                

Last week, the capital of Sanaa was rocked by deadly clashes between Houthi militants and presidential guard units amid an apparent push by the rebels to consolidate their control in the country.

Yemeni President Abd Rabbuh Mansour Hadi tendered his resignation shortly after Prime Minister Khaled Bahah and his government quit to protest the Houthi takeover of the capital.

The rise of the Houthis has pitted the Shiite group against local Sunni tribes and al-Qaeda, the latter of which is said to remain active in the fractious country.

The administration has previously voiced strong concern over Iran’s backing for the rebel force.

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