SANAA (Reuters) - A Yemeni government spokesman said on Tuesday that the Saudi ambassador to Yemen will re-base his mission to the southern city of Aden, an apparent snub to the newly dominant Shi'ite Houthi faction controlling the capital Sanaa.
Saudi Arabia joined Western states earlier this month in evacuating its embassy in Sanaa following a power grab by the Iranian-backed Houthis, viewed with suspicion by the Gulf's mostly Sunni Muslim rulers.
The envoy's move to Aden underlines Saudi support for the embattled Yemeni President Abd-Rabbu Mansour who fled to Aden last week after the Houthis forced him to step down and held him under house arrest in Sanaa for a month.
But with Hadi gone, the Houthis, whose fighters now control large parts of Yemen, have been struggling to form a new government, and Hadi is seeking to set up a rival power center in Aden with loyalist army units and tribes.
"The Saudi ambassador returned to Aden yesterday, together with the Gulf Cooperation Council secretary-general and began today to pursue his mission officially in Aden," said Rajeh Badi, a spokesman for Hadi's government.
Ambassadors from the other Gulf Arab countries would follow suit in the coming days, Badi said.
The Saudi foreign ministry spokesman could not be reached for comment.
The splitting of Yemen into two sides with rival seats of power competing for control could be a further step toward civil war.
(Reporting Mohammed Ghobari; Additional reporting by Omar Fahmy in Cairo and Angus Mcdowall in Riyadh; Writing by Raissa Kasolowsky; Editing by Robin Pomeroy)