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The New Arab

Yemen's Houthis offer asylum to Saudi princes fleeing Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman purge

Houthi fighters could give refuge to Saudi princes if they accept the offer [Getty]

Date of publication: 8 November, 2017

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Yemen's Houthi rebels who are engaged in armed conflict with Riyadh has said it would give refuge to any Saudi princes looking to escape the country following mass arrests.
Yemen's Houthi rebels have offered "asylum" to Saudi princes, after Riyadh arrested 11 leading members of the royal family as part of a supposed "anti-corruption" crackdown.

Sources close to the Houthi leadership - who are wanted by Riyadh - told Al Jazeera that they would welcome any members of the Saudi royal family escaping the kingdom with "open arms" and grant political asylum to their "brotherly neighbour".

"We are ready to offer sanctuary to any member of the al-Saud family or any Saudi national that wants to flee oppression and persecution," the source told the pan-Arab media outlet.

The offer follows a purge of senior political, royal and business figures in the country.

At least eleven senior princes, ministers and businessman - including billionaire al-Waleed bin Talal - have been arrested in the crackdown and are allegedly being held in Riyadh's Ritz hotel.

Little is known about there whereabouts following the uprecedented swoop but Saudi Arabia's attorney general said they are being grilled on corruption charges.

He also implied that the recent detentions were only "Phase One" in the supposed anti-corruption campaign and more arrests will likely follow.

The Houthi figure said that the offer of asylum to Saudi princes looking to flee to Yemen was "100 percent genuine" and not a politically-motivated ploy.

Yemen been ravaged by war and bombing from a Saudi-led coalition looking to overthrow the Houthi rebels who occupy the capital Sanaa. 

At least 10,000 people have been killed in bombing and fighting in Yemen since the Houthis and their allies forced out the government to the south leading to a Saudi-led air, land and sea campaign against the rebels.

Saudi Arabia's air war has hit markets, hospitals, funeral halls and other civilian areas during the bombing, human rights groups say.

Hunger and diseases - including cholera - have swept through the country as a series of sieges deny Yemenis the basic necessities of life.

Riyadh on Monday issued a wanted list for 40 leaders of the Houthi movement with bounties of millions of dollars on their head.

Joint second on the list - with a $20 million bounty - was Mohammed Ali al-Houthi, president of the Revolutionary Committee running much of northern Yemen, offered asylum to Saudis being targeted by the regime.

"The brothers, princes from the saudi royal family, and all employees or individuals being attacked by the regime.. we are prepared to welcome all those in need of residency with us as a dear brother," he said on Twitter.

Saudi stepped up its blockade on Yemen on Monday closing all routes into the country following a Houthi missile attack on Riyadh.

Riyadh has blamed regional rival Iran of supplying the ballistic missile to the Houthis, threatening war with Tehran.

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