Bear in mind that for something like nine years Salih fought the Houthi rebellion. Then came the 2011 uprising in which Salih was forced to yield power to his Vice President (though other family members including his son held key posts in the security services).
Then, as the Houthis advanced into the heart of Yemen, Salih and his suppoorters suddnly seemed to throw their weight behind their old enemies the Houthis. His sometime allies in Saudi Arabia (and by "sometime" I mean on and off) considered him a traitor.
Maybe not anymore. Just after Saudi operations began in Yemen, Al-Arabiya (which is, as they say, close to the Saudi Government) ran a report, "Exclusive: Saleh offered Saudi Arabia anti-Houthi coup for immunity." The Salih in question here was not ‘Ali ‘Abdullah Salih but his son Ahmad. In its English version it reported March 31:
Ahmad Ali Abdullah Saleh, the son of Ali Abdullah Saleh, initially met in Riyadh Gen. Yousuf Al-Idris, the deputy head of Saudi intelligence, before heading to the office of the country’s defense minister, Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who is also the son of Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz.
During the talks, the son requested protection for him and his father and the lifting of U.N. sanctions placed on the former Yemeni president who stepped down in 2012 after ruling for 33 years.
The son had offered in return to launch a coup against the Houthis, using some 5,000 special security forces loyal to Saleh and 100,000 members of the Republican Guards.
But the Saudi intervention had just taken place, and I thought it might be either outright disinformation or at least wishful thinking, so I bookmarked it but didn't blog about it.
But wait: now Al Jazeera (which is not close to the Saudi government), is reporting, "Former Yemeni leader asks Gulf states for safe exit":
Former Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh has sent messages to Arab Gulf states, asking for a safe exit for himself and his family, sources told Al Jazeera.
Saleh, who was forced to step down in 2012 after a wave of protests against his rule, is said to be backing Houthi rebels who have seized the capital Sanaa and are battling forces loyal to embattled President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, who fled to Saudi Arabia.
The message for safe passage was communicated by leaders of the General Popular Congress, including former Foreign Minister Abu Bakr al-Qirbi, sources told Al Jazeera. Saleh has been leader of the GPC.
Sources said the request was rejected by Saudi Arabia, which is a member of the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council and is leading a coalition that has bombed Houthi positions since March 26.
"In the message Saleh seems to have actually told the Gulf leaders via his envoy that he has no ties whatsoever with the Houthis and he is not part of this war," said Al Jazeera's Mohamed Vall, reporting from the Saudi capital of Riyadh.