A picture of former Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh hangs on a building of the Standing Committee of the General People's Congress, Saleh's party, in Sanaa, December 17, 2013.
Mohamed al-Sayaghi / Reuters

On March 27, the day after the Saudi air attacks on Yemen started, Ali Abdullah Saleh, Yemen’s former president who had been ousted during the Arab Spring, offered to negotiate a political settlement between Saudi Arabia and the Houthis, but the efforts went nowhere. On the 17th day of Saudi air raids, Saleh tried again, sending his emissary, former Foreign Minister Abu Bakr al-Qirbi, on a diplomatic trip to the Gulf to push for a new round of talks.

Many suspect Saleh of using the Houthis, also known as Ansar Allah, to regain power. For example, in July 2014 Saleh used his influence among the tribes in Amran, a city in northern Yemen, to help the Houthis overturn the Ahmar family’s leadership of the Hashid tribal confederation. Saleh is also thought to have used his influence over the Yemeni military to get troops to stand down as the Houthis marched

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