Yemen - Civil War

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Houthi leader says drone attacks a response to spurned Yemen peace moves
May 26, 2019
Aziz El Yaakoubi

DUBAI (Reuters) - A leader of Yemen’s Iran-aligned Houthi movement said on Sunday it had resumed drone strikes deep inside Saudi Arabia this month in response to what he called the Saudi-led coalition’s spurning of “peace initiatives” by his group.

Mohammed Ali al-Houthi dismissed Saudi accusations that the attacks had been carried out on the orders on Iran - at a time of growing tension between Tehran and Riyadh alongside its Western and regional allies.

“We are independent in our decisions and ... we are not subordinated to anyone,” al-Houthi told Reuters by phone.

Saudi Arabia, leading a Western-backed Sunni Muslim coalition, intervened in neighboring Yemen in 2015 after the Houthis ousted the government of Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi from power in the capital Sanaa.

The Houthis have stepped up attacks on the kingdom in the past two weeks - including a drone strike on two oil pumping stations near Riyadh - in a resurgence of tactics that had largely subsided since late last year amid U.N.-led peace efforts.

In the first statement on the attacks from a senior figure, al-Houthi told Reuters the movement had agreed to halt raids last year “in good faith” and had been ready to take more steps.

“But unfortunately the aggressor countries misinterpreted these efforts (as weakness) and regarded them with contempt and indifference,” al-Houthi, the head of the group’s Supreme Revolutionary Committee, added.

He said the Houthis had unilaterally withdrawn from three Red Sea ports and he accused the Saudi-led coalition of failing to reciprocate.

There was no immediate reaction to his statement from Riyadh which has not yet recognized the port pull-out.

Saudi state media reported that the kingdom had on Sunday intercepted another missile armed with explosives that it said had been fired by the Houthis towards the southern airport of Jizan.

The coalition has responded to the renewed drone attacks with air strikes on Houthi military sites in Sanaa.

The Houthis, who still hold the main urban centers, say their revolution is against corruption and have long rejected reports that they are acting as Iran’s proxy against Saudi Arabia.

The war has killed tens of thousands of people and pushed the poorest Arabian Peninsula nation to the brink of famine.

Editing by Andrew Heavens

 

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Yemen's Houthis say attacked Saudi's Jizan airport by drone: Masirah TV
May 26, 2019

DUBAI (Reuters) - Yemen’s Iran-aligned Houthi movement launched a drone strike on military hangars in Saudi Arabia’s Jizan airport near the Yemeni border, the group’s Masirah TV reported on Sunday.

There was no immediate confirmation from Saudi authorities or from a Saudi-led coalition that has been battling the Houthis in Yemen for four years.

The Houthis, who ousted the Saudi-backed internationally recognized government from power in the Yemeni capital Sanaa in late 2014, have stepped up missile and drone attacks on Saudi cities in the past two weeks.

Reporting by Asma Alsharif; Editing by Ghaida Ghantous

 

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Yemen’s Houthis launch fundraising drive for cash-strapped Hezbollah
A radio station donation drive aims to help the Lebanese militant group through its ‘current stage of distress’

Albin Szakola
May 27, 2019

A Yemeni radio station broadcasting in support of the Yemeni rebel Houthi movement has launched a fundraising drive on behalf of Hezbollah, which has come under pressure from ramped-up sanctions.

Sam FM (99.1) on Friday called on its listeners to “support the masters of the mujahideen in this world, the purest people, Hezbollah” and donate to the “From Yemen the Faithful to the Resistance of Lebanon” campaign during the final 10 days of Ramadan.

The pro-Houthi station’s effort presents an unusual about-face in the relationship between the Houthis and Hezbollah, which is usually the provider of support to its Yemeni allies.

Last July, an Arab diplomat told The National on condition of anonymity that Hezbollah fighters and advisers were working alongside the Houthis in parts of Yemen. Meanwhile, Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah has voiced support for the Iran-backed Houthi insurgents.

On Sam FM, broadcaster Hamoud Mohammad Sharaf said his station’s fundraising efforts for Hezbollah would “have a significant impact in strengthening the Axis of Resistance,” in reference to the Tehran-led alliance that includes Syria, Hezbollah and Hamas.

His comments were made in an interview with the Houthi-run Saba news agency, which was republished by Sam FM’s Telegram account.

Mr Sharaf, who has also worked as a correspondent for Hezbollah’s Al-Manar Television, said the campaign for Hezbollah was the latest in a series of fundraisers inspired by Houthi leader Abdulmalik Al Houthi.

The pro-Houthi station raised more than 200 million Yemeni rials (Dh2.93m) for rebel military efforts during Ramadan in 2018 and 2019, Saba said.

Last week, Sharaf tweeted a statement stamped by the Houthi rebels’ drone, missile, air defence, navy and military industrialisation departments thanking Sam FM for a donation of 30.3 million Yemeni rials (Dh445,097).

استلمنا نحن الموقعون أدناه من حملة (حي على خير اليمن - المرحلة الأولى ١٤٤٠هـ) عبر إذاعة #سام_FM مبلغ وقدره "٣٠.٣٣٠.٠٠٠"

[ثلاثين مليـــون وثلاثمائة وثلاثين ألف ريال]

١)دائرة التصنيع العسكري

٢)القوة الصاروخية

٣)سلاح الجو المسير

٤)قوات الدفاع الجوي
٥)القوات البحرية والدفاع الساحلي pic.twitter.com/Xkg51Fsq0a — حمود محمد شرف (@sambnfm) May 22, 2019
Saba news agency said it expected the radio station’s collection effort for Hezbollah would also attract wide participation from the public and private sectors “in light of Hezbollah’s current stage of distress following the financial sanctions imposed by the United States.”

Hezbollah is blacklisted by numerous countries, including the US, UK and Gulf states, as a terrorist group. The US Department of Treasury imposed more sanctions on Hezbollah-related individuals and entities in 2018 than in any previous year. That same year, US President Donald Trump signed into law a Congressional bill expanding sanctions on foreign entities that support Hezbollah and its agents.

Sham FM’s announcement of its fundraising drive directed the station’s listeners to donate to an account held at Houthi-controlled Yemen Post, which advertises money transfer services in addition to its postal work.

The Houthis have used Yemen Post in the past to facilitate their activities, including a fundraising campaign to support a rival institution to the Central Bank after the internationally recognised government of Yemen under Abdrabu Mansur Hadi moved the institution from Sanaa to Aden.

Even before the war that started in 2015, Yemen was the poorest country in the Middle East and North African region. It is now facing the worst humanitarian crisis in the world and fighting has devastated the economy, destroyed infrastructure and left millions on the verge of famine.

 

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Yemen: Calls for Stepping up Campaign Against Griffiths’ Performance
Tuesday, 28 May, 2019


A Yemeni boy crosses a flooded street following heavy rainfall in the Yemeni capital Sanaa on May 26, 2019. Mohammed HUWAIS / AFP

Aden - Ali Rabih

Yemeni politicians have stepped up their campaign against the performance of UN Envoy Martin Griffiths despite attempts by UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres to limit tension between the sides.

Last week, Guterres addressed Yemeni President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi who had sent him a letter accusing the envoy of bias and of treating the Houthi rebels as a de-facto government.

The president said Griffiths’ violations “threaten prospects for a solution.”

In his response, Guterres said: “Every effort will be made to maintain the impartial stance that is expected of the United Nations.”

The office of Yemen’s Speaker issued on Monday a strongly worded statement, calling on the government to stop dealing with Griffiths until he respects Security Council resolutions and the spirit of the agreement struck in Sweden between the legitimacy and the Houthis last December.

Government sources said requests made by Griffiths to meet Hadi in Riyadh were not heeded.

Hamdan Alaly, a Yemeni writer and journalist, denied that the ongoing campaign against Griffiths has failed.

Alaly told Asharq Al-Awsat that the campaign should continue because Griffiths and British Ambassador to Yemen Michael Aron are seeking to “impose an unrealistic UN vision that undermines peace chances in Yemen.”

He said the Yemeni government and presidency should answer the people's calls to replace the UN envoy, and to contact the British Foreign Office for clarifications about the undesirable comments made recently by the British ambassador.

Ezat Mustafa, director of the Fanar Centre for Policy Research, told Asahrq Al-Awsat on Monday that Griffiths should realize that it is no longer possible to exert pressure on Hadi. “Instead, the UN envoy should push Houthis to seriously deal with the peace plan in Yemen,” he said.

For his part, Faris Al-Beel, a political analyst and college professor, told Asharq Al-Awsat that the UN fails to see the roots of the problem in Yemen and deals with the situation as a conflict on power sharing between the rival sides.

“Houthis are not a political party. They represent a military tool for Iran’s project in Yemen,” he said.

Fares said that the ball is now in the court of the legitimate government.

“Either the government takes a strong and decisive position in the negotiations path or it risks being vulnerable in confronting the militias and dealing with the international community,” he said.

 

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Guterres Promises Hadi to be Impartial
Monday, 27 May, 2019


Guterres delivers a speech on disarmament at the University of Geneva (UNIGE) in Geneva, Switzerland, May 24, 2018. Reuters

London- Badr Al-Qahtani

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres has said he was willing to discuss with the legitimate Yemeni government reservations expressed by President Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi on UN Envoy Martin Griffiths’ briefing to the Security Council on May 15, a high-ranking Yemeni official told Asharq Al-Awsat.

The Yemeni government official said that Griffiths would not attend the proposed meeting between the two sides.

“We will discuss with Guterres, or the person representing him, all the violations committed by the UN envoy to Yemen,” the source said.

“We will tell Guterres that the UN should focus on the three references, not take one-sided decisions and just stick to the clauses of the Stockholm deal” that was truck between the legitimacy and Houthi militias in December, the official added.

The meeting’s outcome will decide if the legitimate government would re-engage with Griffiths, according to the same source.

Last Thursday, Hadi sent a letter to Guterres in which he said he would no longer accept the ongoing violations committed by the UN envoy.

He criticized Griffiths for publicly praising the war criminal, Abdul Malak Al-Houthi.

Meanwhile, a UN source told Asharq Al-Awsat that Guterres has clarified his position by sending a letter to Hadi.

A few days ago, Guterres reiterated his “full confidence” in the envoy.

“In his letter to President Hadi the secretary-general says that the United Nations commitment to the Stockholm Agreement stems first and foremost from our deep desire to alleviate the suffering of the Yemeni people and assist in addressing the humanitarian crisis which continues to beset Yemen,” the UN chief’s spokesman, Stephane Dujarric, said.

However, Dujarric failed to reveal in detail information on Guterres’ letter to Hadi.

Asharq Al-Awsat received a copy of the letter in which Guterres affirms that “every effort will be made to maintain the impartial stance that is expected of the United Nations” while implementing the Stockholm Agreement.

He also expressed keenness on the importance of reaching out to all parties to activate the written agreement and transform it into reality.

 

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Coalition: We will not tolerate launching drones and threatening civilian
Updated 37 sec ago / May 28, 2019
Lojien Ben Gassem
May 27, 2019
  • “The security of the kingdom of Saudi Arabia is a red line and those responsible for terrorist acts will be punished and the measures will be harsh on them,” the spokesman said
  • Al-Maliki pointed out that Houthis attempting to target oil pumps in Saudi Arabia is targeting the global economy
RIYADH: Coalition spokesman Col. Turki Al-Maliki said on Monday that the Houthi militias continue to threaten the maritime in Bab al-Mandab and also in the southern Red Sea and that the Houthis is committing war crimes by targeting civilians and passengers at Najran airport.

“The security of the kingdom of Saudi Arabia is a red line and those responsible for terrorist acts will be punished and the measures will be harsh on them,” Al-Maliki said in a press briefing.

Al-Maliki pointed out that Houthis attempting to target oil pumps in Dawadmi and Afif is not a primary target for Saudi Arabia, but is targeting the global economy.

The efforts of the coalition continue in this regard. Al-Maliki mentioned that they have aborted more than 35 terrorist acts by the Houthi militias in Bab al-Mandab and the Red Sea. And that the coalition has air defense techniques to drop these drones.

Al-Maliki talked about the escalation of Houthis in using drones during the recent period.

“There are many attempts to target oil tankers, for example, Al-Buqaiq ship, which contains more than one million and one hundred thousand barrels. The Houthis attempted to target the ship without any sense of responsibility in case of oil flow to the waters of the Red Sea which will lead to regional, environmental, economic and international disasters.” Said Al-Maliki

Al-Maliki stressed that they took all measures to accelerate the military pace to neutralize the threats of the Houthi militia in Yemen. He also confirmed that they have documented information on the supply of rockets, boats and drones by the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps IRGC to the Houthi militia in Yemen.

He also mentioned that The international community must shoulder its responsibilities to the Houthis missile threat in targeting residential areas and Saudi cities

Al-Maliki also said that the Huthi militias were linked to terrorist regimes in Africa and the Middle East.

Houthi violations
Al-Maliki said the total number of violations of the Swedish agreement by the Houthi militias reached more than 4735. The Houthi militias were still planting mines that threaten civilians. He also revealed that Houthi militias continue making violations through disrupting humanitarian and relief organizations in Al-Hodeidah port.

There have been 226 ballistic missiles launched by the Houthi terrorist militias toward the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia between March 26, 2015, and May 27, 2019.

Humanitarian operations
Several relief ports are open for Yemen (air, sea, land), and the total number of maritime permits issued by the Joint Forces Command from March 26, 2015, and May 27, 2019, was 5,889. Air permits for the same period were for 15,670 passengers. There were 1,428 land permits during this period.
Permits and orders to secure the movements of relief organizations inside Yemen during the period from May 13, 2019, to May 26, 2019, are 677 Permit.

Operational objectives
The total losses of the Houthi militia sites, weapons, and equipment from May 13, 2019, to May 27, 2019, was 214 and the number of dead Houthi terrorists is 633.

 

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Saudi-led coalition air strikes hit arms depots in Yemeni capital -TV report
May 29, 2019 / Updated an hour ago


CAIRO (Reuters) - The Saudi-led military coalition fighting in Yemen raided an air base adjoining Sanaa’s airport, Al-Hadath TV said late on Tuesday.
The coalition air strikes targeted arms depots in the al-Dulaimi Air Base in Sanaa, it added.

Reporting by Hesham Hajali



 

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Yemen’s Government Urges Transparency in Operations of Int’l Organizations
Wednesday, 29 May, 2019


Yemeni Minister of Planning and International Cooperation Najib al-Auj

Riyadh - Abdulhadi Habtor

The Yemeni government has said that 80 percent of international organizations have rejected to heed its demands on revealing operational expenses and the size of aid delivered to the country’s people.

The government warned the organizations that it could take legal measures against them, depriving them of their ability to operate in Yemen.

Minister of Planning and International Cooperation Najib al-Auj said there have been question marks on how funds made available by donor countries were being spent in Yemen.

Auj told Asharq Al-Awsat that some organizations were exaggerating in expenditures into operational costs by reaching 25 percent, although the norm is just five percent.

The minister said that the Yemeni government has recently brought up the issue with international organizations, the United Nations and the World Bank. Yet only 20 percent heeded its request.

“We are planning to take legal measures against organizations who are ignoring our demands for data on their operations in Yemen,” he said.

Auj said that the Yemeni government will also inform donor states about the issue.

Among other measures that the government could take are rejecting to renew the licenses of organizations that are lacking transparency in their operations, the minister warned.

He denied that the government is interfering in the activities of international agencies, saying: “We are grating them customs and tax exemptions, and facilitating their work. So they should in return be transparent and cooperative.”

“We don’t want to interfere in their work or impose anything on them,” Auj said. “We just want clear data so that we could announce to the Yemeni people about the assistance provided to them by such organizations.”

 

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Coalition starts an operation against Houthis in Al-Dhale
Updated 14 sec ago
Arab News
May 29, 2019
  • The operation follows international and humanitarian laws
  • The Coalition told civilians to avoid the targeted areas
DUBAI: Arab Coalition started an operation targeting Houthi militants in Al-Dhale province, the organization announced.
“the operation is in accordance with international and humanitarian law, we have taken all precautions to protect the civilians,” the Coalition said.

The Coalition asked the civilians to refrain from the targeted areas.

“The operation in Al-Dhale aims to reduce the capabilities of Houthis to attack. Our efforts against the militia will continue to preserve regional and international peace and stability,” the Coalition added.


 

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Yemen: Coalition Destroys Houthi Military Sites in Sanaa, Dhale, Maerib
Thursday, 30 May, 2019


FILE PHOTO - Armed Houthi followers carry their rifles in Sanaa, Yemen December 19, 2018. REUTERS/Khaled Abdullah

Taiz - Asharq Al-Awsat

The Coalition to Support Legitimacy in Yemen destroyed Houthi military sites in Sanaa, Ad-Dhale and Maerib, while the Iranian-backed militias continued to suffer losses on various fronts.

Meanwhile, the national army launched a military operation to press ahead with its liberation of Dhale governorate from the insurgents.

It announced Tuesday that it had killed 32 rebels, including a Houthi commander, during clashes in Dhale.

The army’s site reported that confrontations erupted in the areas of Shakhab, al-Kafla, Bab Ghalak and Baja, north and west of Qatabah directorate, resulting in the death of 32 Houthi militiamen, including the local commander, Abduelah Ali Mohamed Miqdad, and the injury of other militants.

The Coalition air force supported the national army and resistance on various fronts in Dhale, most notably targeting Houthi reinforcements in the Oud region north of Qatabah, resulting in the destruction of a Katyusha rocket launcher and a tank belonging to the militias in the area Zubairat.

Coalition fighter jets also raided Houthi positions and sites in Dailami base, north of Sanaa. Witnesses reported hearing powerful explosions. Similar raids targeted insurgent sites in Jerban, Sanhan district of Sanaa.

Coalition warplanes also targeted Houthi military compounds and vehicles, west of Sirwah in Maerib, northeast of Sanaa, leaving casualties in the ranks of militants.

On the other hand, military sources reported that the national army from the joint forces in Hodeidah raided Houthi gatherings near Bani Maghazi, north of Hays directorate, south of Hodeidah, killing and injuring many militia fighters.

In other news, Media Freedom Observatory in Yemen, affiliated with think-tank Studies and Economic Media Center, a non-profit civil society organization, noted that since the beginning of 2015, violations and practices against journalists have increased.

It recorded 2,041 cases of abuse against journalists and media organizations, including killing 43 journalists and media activists. In addition, many journalists were abducted and subjected to the worst forms of torture.

More than 400 journalists have been displaced from their areas since the beginning of the war, and Yemen's ranking in the journalism freedoms index has dropped to 168th place out of 180 countries.


 

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Houthi Self-proclaimed Authority Presses Yemenis for Religious Endowments
Friday, 31 May, 2019


Houthis promote fundraiser on social media, forcing Yemenis in coup-run areas to submit Zakat al-Fitr payments to new establishment (Arabic website)

Sanaa - Asharq Al-Awsat

Houthi militias, backed by Iran, have upgraded their pro-starvation policy exacted on Yemen’s war-ravaged population by issuing a series of unconstitutional decisions that include unsolicited religious tariffs.

After already having withheld the salaries of civil servants in their territory, Houthis have hiked Zakat al-Fitr rates collected by coupists from 300 Yemeni rials to 500 rials per person.

For Muslims, Zakat al-Fitr is a mandatory charity taken for the poor few days before the end of fasting in the Islamic holy month of Ramadan.

Banners bearing slogans that urge anguished civilians to pay the charity to collectors sent by a recently established Houthi center, dubbed Zakat Commission, flooded streets in Sanaa.

Next to flyers and banners, Houthis promoted the newly formed body also through social media campaigns.

Locals in Sanaa and other Houthi-run areas decried the Houthi Zakat commission as unofficial and categorically rejected all its services.

As for increased rates Yemenis said they were unfair and illegitimate, adding that it is part and parcel of a Houthi campaign designed to gather funds to finance their war efforts and armed mobilizations.

Several Sanaa locals, speaking to Asharq Al-Awsat under conditions of anonymity for security reasons, blamed Houthi insurgents for dragging Yemen through the mud and leaving it to myriad chaos that is difficult to unfold.

Other than staging a nationwide war effort, Houthis continue to tank the country’s already ailing economy by pillaging state institutions and resources.

A recent study published by the Future Center for Yemeni Studies and Research confirmed that Houthis have diversified their income making activities. The group, next to raiding public centers, has been belligerent in exploiting religious endowments paid by devotees.

Every Ramadan, Islam’s holy month of fasting, Houthis have doubled zakat rates in areas under their control. Despite the charity being collected for the poor, no signs of improvement of dire humanitarian conditions were cited in Houthi areas.

Yemeni Activists, state institutions and legal bodies, for their part, urged civilians in coup-controlled areas to stand up to militias and reject dealing with any Houthi-fangled authority.



 

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Yemen: Houthis Deplete Traders, Citizens’ Resources for 'War Effort'
Sunday, 2 June, 2019

Shops such as the one in the image above are often out of stock during war rages, Sanaa, Yemen (Reuters)

Sanaa - Asharq Al-Awsat

Houthi militias intensify, during the month of Ramadan, efforts to blackmail citizens and merchants under the provision of “Eid convoys” in support of the war effort, as well as taxes and levies imposed such as zakat or fees to improve Sanaa and distribute food baskets.

Traders and businessmen complain they are on the verge of bankruptcy and their businesses could be subject to foreclosure due to systematic and continuous extortion by Houthi militias. They also impose royalties throughout the year, and on several occasions, which increases in Ramadan.

Traders told Asharq Al-Awsat that Houthis use all methods of extortion and looting of citizens, merchants, institutions, sheiks and dignitaries, forcing them to donate all convoys without taking into account living conditions of the citizens and their economic situation caused by the war and the corruption of the pro-Iranian group.

The militias did not exclude any of the institutions under their control in Sanaa from mobilizing support and donations, including public and private institutions. Academics told Asharq Al-Awsat that the militias ordered the universities to run food convoys and collect donations for the group's fighters in the fronts.

Economists confirm that the coup militias continue to destroy the private sector, after being privy to the public sector. They looted all authorities’ savings and monopolized them for their followers, war effort, and employees salaries.

Merchants in Sanaa say they are forced to donate, whether cash money or items they trade, without any exception.

The militias forced a shoe seller to allocate 10 percent of his total merchandise for the war effort.

“They determined each kind and shoe size they want, including women's, children and men shoes,” he told Asharq Al-Awsat.

A prominent perfume merchant, speaking on condition of anonymity, admitted that each Eid, Houthis force him to pay royalties and participate in preparing aid convoys for fighters. He admitted that the group's senior leaders in Sanaa asked for his best perfume for their personal use.

Citizens’ demand for clothes during Eid period increases and Houthi militias carry out heavily armed raids on major shops and retail clothing shops in Sanaa, and Ibb forcing them to donate.

Traders fear Houthis’ retaliation for those who do not support the war effort. They said militias are practicing a variety of methods, including kidnapping and closing shops, for those who refuse to donate.

A retailer in Sanaa reported that militias focus on clothes’ shops of all kinds, and they are forced to choose between paying or closure.

Economists say that levies and royalties imposed on traders, regardless of the goods, will be added to the final value of the commodity, which poor and destitute citizens will have to pay.

Earlier, militias closed chain stores in Sanaa and several cities, with losses reaching millions of Yemeni riyals. In addition to closing one of Sanaa's biggest shopping malls under the pretext that it deals with banknotes issued by the Central bank in Aden.

Store owners confirmed they were forced to pay royalties, participate in preparing aid convoys, as well as paying the taxes, customs, and cleaning fees, all of which costs a lot.

Meanwhile, dozens of traders left Sanaa to areas under the legitimate government control in Aden, Maerib, and Hadramout, in an effort to distance themselves from the militarization of the militias and its relentless war effort.

 

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Yemen: Houthis Deplete Traders, Citizens’ Resources for 'War Effort'
Sunday, 2 June, 2019

Shops such as the one in the image above are often out of stock during war rages, Sanaa, Yemen (Reuters)

Sanaa - Asharq Al-Awsat

Houthi militias intensify, during the month of Ramadan, efforts to blackmail citizens and merchants under the provision of “Eid convoys” in support of the war effort, as well as taxes and levies imposed such as zakat or fees to improve Sanaa and distribute food baskets.

Traders and businessmen complain they are on the verge of bankruptcy and their businesses could be subject to foreclosure due to systematic and continuous extortion by Houthi militias. They also impose royalties throughout the year, and on several occasions, which increases in Ramadan.

Traders told Asharq Al-Awsat that Houthis use all methods of extortion and looting of citizens, merchants, institutions, sheiks and dignitaries, forcing them to donate all convoys without taking into account living conditions of the citizens and their economic situation caused by the war and the corruption of the pro-Iranian group.

The militias did not exclude any of the institutions under their control in Sanaa from mobilizing support and donations, including public and private institutions. Academics told Asharq Al-Awsat that the militias ordered the universities to run food convoys and collect donations for the group's fighters in the fronts.

Economists confirm that the coup militias continue to destroy the private sector, after being privy to the public sector. They looted all authorities’ savings and monopolized them for their followers, war effort, and employees salaries.

Merchants in Sanaa say they are forced to donate, whether cash money or items they trade, without any exception.

The militias forced a shoe seller to allocate 10 percent of his total merchandise for the war effort.

“They determined each kind and shoe size they want, including women's, children and men shoes,” he told Asharq Al-Awsat.

A prominent perfume merchant, speaking on condition of anonymity, admitted that each Eid, Houthis force him to pay royalties and participate in preparing aid convoys for fighters. He admitted that the group's senior leaders in Sanaa asked for his best perfume for their personal use.

Citizens’ demand for clothes during Eid period increases and Houthi militias carry out heavily armed raids on major shops and retail clothing shops in Sanaa, and Ibb forcing them to donate.

Traders fear Houthis’ retaliation for those who do not support the war effort. They said militias are practicing a variety of methods, including kidnapping and closing shops, for those who refuse to donate.

A retailer in Sanaa reported that militias focus on clothes’ shops of all kinds, and they are forced to choose between paying or closure.

Economists say that levies and royalties imposed on traders, regardless of the goods, will be added to the final value of the commodity, which poor and destitute citizens will have to pay.

Earlier, militias closed chain stores in Sanaa and several cities, with losses reaching millions of Yemeni riyals. In addition to closing one of Sanaa's biggest shopping malls under the pretext that it deals with banknotes issued by the Central bank in Aden.

Store owners confirmed they were forced to pay royalties, participate in preparing aid convoys, as well as paying the taxes, customs, and cleaning fees, all of which costs a lot.

Meanwhile, dozens of traders left Sanaa to areas under the legitimate government control in Aden, Maerib, and Hadramout, in an effort to distance themselves from the militarization of the militias and its relentless war effort.

 

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Kidnapped Police Officer Freed in Yemen’s Taiz
Monday, 3 June, 2019


A pro-government soldier stands guard at a historical site in the northern city of Marib, Yemen November 3, 2017. (Reuters)

Taiz – Asharq Al-Awsat

Local Yemeni authorities in the coastal governorate of Taiz announced that a police officer, who was kidnapped over a week ago, was released.

Provincial military police said it was handed back Brigadier General Jamal al-Shamiri, who was abducted by an outlawed group en route to performing the Umrah pilgrimage in neighboring Saudi Arabia.

During his time as a hostage, Shamiri was taken to an unknown location.

Separately, fierce clashes continue to rattle Yemen’s southern Ad Dali’, Lahij and Qa’atabah districts.

Yemeni army forces and the popular resistance, backed by the Saudi-led Arab coalition, advanced towards a number of towns and outposts held by the Iran-backed Houthi militias.

“Houthis continue to carry out criminal acts by turning citizens’ homes and residential neighborhoods into militia hideouts, in an attempt to impede the progress of pro-government forces towards the Ibb governorate,” the pro-government Giants Brigades said in statement.

Arab coalition fighter jets pounded Sunday morning a number of militia targets west of Ad Dali’, killing and injuring a number of Houthi militiamen and destroying armored vehicles operated by the coupists.

In the strategic Red Sea port city of Hodeidah, the militants continued to scale up offensives in blatant violation of the UN-sponsored ceasefire in place.

Locals reported militants targeting civilian neighborhoods in southern Hodeidah with rocket and sniper fire.

In the Tahita region, Houthi militants opened assault rifle and sniper fire, injuring a young Yemeni girl named Malak Abdo Musseib.

According to her father, she was shot in the head by sniper fire while playing next to her home.

Musseib, 8, was taken to a hospital in the interim capital Aden in very critical condition to receive treatment for her life-threatening injuries.

 

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Houthi Leadership Frayed by Internal Quarrels, Regional Condemnation
Tuesday, 4 June, 2019

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Aden - Ali Rabih

After receiving fierce condemnation in three Makkah summits in Saudi Arabia, Houthi militias in Yemen not only found themselves isolated from Arab and Muslim countries, but also closer to their regional backer, Iran. Amid rising tensions, Houthis are also threatened with dissolution as internal squabbling seems to peak to new heights.

Whilst convening for an emergency meeting, the Houthi self-proclaimed government in Sanaa was stripped bare before political analysts who were able to spot strong rivalries and deep divisions within the coup leadership.

The meeting was headed by Mohammed Ali al-Houthi, the Houthi movement leader’s cousin, not Mahdi al-Mashat, who was appointed as the group’s president to the so-called Supreme Political Council.

A photo was published showing Mohammed Ali al-Houthi, 39, heading the council despite senior coup members and ministers attending. Removing Mashat from the picture, according to well-informed sources, suggests a widening rift among Houthi ranks.

Many observers suggest that Mashat was downgraded due to the insurgency’s policy to maintain lineage when it comes to leadership positions. This means only members belonging to al-Houthi family, after which the Houthi movement was named, will be allowed to hold decision-making positions.

Many warn that Mashat’s absence from the meeting also indicates the young politician’s nearing termination within the Houthi group.

During the meeting, al-Houthi vowed to scale up military offensives across the country tattered by war, and promised to reboot drone and rocket cross-border attacks targeting Saudi Arabia.

The coup meeting, which was rushed to retaliate against condemnation Houthis faced at the three Makkah summits, stressed the strong ties shared between Houthis and the Lebanon-based Hezbollah.

Both backed by Iran, Houthis and Hezbollah have co-conducted operations and are believed to retain some level of regional coordination.

More so, the Houthi meeting released a communique saying that the militia categorically rejects withdrawing from the strategic Red Sea port city of Hodeidah, which was a key condition in a UN-brokered ceasefire agreement last December.

Yemeni politicians rule out that Houthis will ever be serious about establishing peace without losing significant military levers they are pulling. Peace planners suggested that if Houthis redeploy from or are defeated in Hodeidah and the rest of Yemen's western coast they could be pressured into complying with international peace efforts.

 

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