First Published: 2017-10-19

Russian medics operate on Yemen's Saleh despite embargo
Former Yemeni president undergoes surgery in Sanaa after rare suspension of coalition air blockade to allow Russian doctors in.
Middle East Online

Saleh, 75, said coalition authorised entry of the Russian team for cataract surgery.

SANAA - Former Yemeni president Ali Abdullah Saleh said he has undergone surgery in Sanaa by Russian doctors after a rare suspension of a Saudi-led coalition air blockade.

A spokesman for the Arab coalition did not respond to requests Thursday for comment on the lifting of the blockade for the Russian medical team.

Saleh, 75, said the coalition had authorised the entry of the Russian team for cataract surgery, for which he had waited "more than a year", in an interview broadcast on Yemen Today television.

He said the operation was "a success" and that a medical examination had confirmed he was "in very good health".

The coalition enforced the closure of Sanaa airport after its intervention in Yemen's war on the government side against a rebel alliance of Shiite Huthis and forces loyal to Saleh.

Only select UN flights are authorised to land by the coalition, which controls Yemen's airspace as well as a string of ports on the country's coastline.

A high-ranking source in the government told AFP that the United States, an ally of Saudi Arabia, had facilitated the entry of the Russian medical team because it wanted Saleh to be "in good health".

Washington sees Saleh as key to dealing with the Huthis, who have rejected UN mediation in the conflict, according to the source.

The Yemen war has killed more than 8,600 people since the coalition intervened in 2015, and it has pushed the country to the brink of famine, according to the World Health Organization.

The International Committee of the Red Cross estimates another 2,100 people have died of cholera this year.


Iraq launches operation to clear last IS holdouts from desert

Divided Syria opposition meets in Riyadh

Lebanon’s Hariri suspends resignation

Revolt in US State Department over child soldier law

Outrage in Iraq over 'child marriage' bill

Syrian opposition aims for unity at talks in Riyadh

Egypt police kill 3 Islamists in shootout

Turkey unsure if Assad to be part of Syria political transition

Migrant arrivals from Libya down since EU deal

Palestinian factions leave Cairo talks with little progress

Sudan’s Bashir looks to Putin for ‘protection’ from US aggression

China, Djibouti forge 'strategic' ties

IS propaganda channels fall quiet in 'unprecedented' hiatus

Kremlin to create Syria congress despite Turkey ‘reservations’

Netanyahu berates deputy minister for 'offensive' remarks on US Jews

Egypt PM heads to Germany for medical treatment

Egypt destroys 10 SUVs carrying arms on Libya border

Saudi-led coalition to reopen Yemen airport, port to aid

Turkey court rules to keep Amnesty chief in jail

France calls for UN meeting on Libya slave-trading

Egypt detains 29 for allegedly spying for Turkey

WTO panel to hear Qatar’s complaint against UAE blockade

Three dead as diphtheria spreads in Yemen

Israel seizes explosive material at Gaza border

Activists call for release of UK journalist held by IS

Bahrain upholds jail sentence for activist

Iraq attacks at lowest since 2014

Turkey continues crackdown in post-coup probe

Hariri back in Lebanon

Putin to hold Syria peace talks with Erdogan, Rouhani

US carries out air strikes against IS in Libya

Lebanon's Hariri in Egypt ahead of return home

Rebels say Sanaa airport 'ready to run' after coalition bombing

Greece to amend historic sharia law for Muslim minority

Turkey to ask Germany to extradite top coup suspect

Car bomb in northern Iraq kills at least 24

Morocco bans bitcoin transactions

13 million Syrians need aid despite relative drop in violence

Sudan urged to improve plight of Darfur's displaced people

Brain drain means Syria can’t recover for a generation

Palestinians close communication lines with Americans

Anti-IS coalition strikes drop to lowest number

German police arrest six Syrians ‘planning terror attack’

Palestinian factions in Cairo for reconciliation talks

Turkish opposition daily web editor sentenced to 3 years in jail