Yemen presidential advisors in Saada meet Houthi leader

A handful of advisors of Yemeni President Abd Rabbuh Mansour Hadi have arrived in the northern Saada province, a stronghold of Yemen's Shiite Houthi movement, to meet movement leader Abdel-Malak al-Houthi.

The presidential delegation is expected to discuss with al-Houthi the latter's rejection of a presidency-proposed blueprint for federalism, which would divide Yemen into six administrative regions.

The meeting is also expected to tackle recent tension in the eastern Ma'arib province and the central Ta'izz province amid reports that the Houthis had decided to deploy fighters in both provinces.  

The meeting is also expected to cover implementation of a peace and partnership agreement signed by Yemen's political forces and presidency on September 21 of last year.

A security appendix to the agreement calls on Houthi militants to leave capital Sanaa and other provinces.

On Saturday, al-Houthi rejected a proposed federalism blueprint, which, he said, would only break Yemen into small and weak "cantons."

He also accused the United States and certain regional powers of inciting what he described as "criminal" forces against the people of Yemen.

For the last several months, the Shiite Houthi group – which boasts thousands of diehard supporters countrywide – has been trying to step up its armed presence across fractious Yemen.

The group recently emerged as a political and military power after taking over capital Sanaa in late October, from which they have since sought to extend their influence into other provinces farther afield.

The Houthis' growing power has raised fears of sectarian conflict in Yemen, which has remained in the throes of political turmoil since a 2011 popular uprising ended the decades-long rule of President Ali Abdullah Saleh one year later.