SWEIMEH, Jordan — Ali Abdullah Saleh, the ousted strongman who once governed Yemen and then conspired with Iranian-backed rebels to claw his way back to power, was killed on Monday in the nation’s capital, Sana, according to multiple reports from rival factions clashing there.
The death of Mr. Saleh is likely to add to escalating tensions between the two regional heavyweights, Saudi Arabia and Iran, who have clashed indirectly through the Yemeni fighting.
His demise removes one of the wiliest and best-connected players in Yemeni politics, further diminishing hopes of an imminent resolution to the catastrophic civil warthat has gripped Yemen for more than two years. It could easily kick off new violence between his supporters and the Iran-allied Houthi faction, which recently fought alongside Mr. Saleh and his supporters but had previously fought against them.
The reports of Mr. Saleh’s death, after an explosion at his family’s compound, came just two days after he appeared to switch sides for the second time between Saudi-allied and Iran-linked factions in Yemen. As president, Mr. Saleh had been a close ally of both Saudi Arabia and the United States, which considered him a partner in the fight against Al Qaeda’s affiliate in Yemen and a bulwark against the influence of Iran through its allies, the Houthi.