Aden: Beleaguered Yemeni President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi, who fled to Aden after escaping from Shiite militia controlling Sanaa, considers the southern port city the country`s capital, an aide said on Saturday.
Meanwhile, tensions were high in the city, as special forces suspected of links to the militia, known as Huthis, readied defences against an anticipated assault by Hadi loyalists.
"Aden became the capital of Yemen as soon as the Huthis occupied Sanaa," the aide quoted Hadi as saying in reference to their takeover of the city several months ago.
Hadi`s claim is purely symbolic, as moving the capital would require a change to the constitution, but it reflects the president`s determination to hold out against Huthi efforts to extend their sway.
Several Gulf states, led by Saudi Arabia, have already moved their embassies to Aden after an exodus of foreign diplomats from Sanaa in February over security concerns.
But the United States, the first to close its mission in Sanaa, has said it will not do so.
The southern city, the country`s second largest, was capital of a once independent south Yemen.
The Gulf Cooperation Council continues to support Hadi, as does Washington. The GCC states, ruled by Sunni Muslim regimes, are deeply suspicious of the Huthis, fearing they will take Yemen into the orbit of Shiite Iran.
The Huthis named a "presidential council" after Hadi and Prime Minister Khalid Bahah tendered their resignations in January in protest at what critics branded an attempted coup.
Hadi fled house arrest in Sanaa and resurfaced in Aden, where he retracted his resignation. Bahah remains trapped in the capital.
Meanwhile, special forces commander Abdel Hafez al-Saqqaf has defied a decree by Hadi sacking him and said he will only follow orders coming from the presidential council in Sanaa.
His men have cut roads leading to their headquarters near Aden`s international airport and set up barricades, saying they fear an assault by fighters from the Popular Resistance Committees, loyal to Hadi.