Houthis expand their presence in the capital

Published on 26 August 2014 in News
Nasser Al-Sakkaf (author)

Nasser Al-Sakkaf


SANA’A Aug. 24—As a sign of their growing frustration with the government and unmet demands,  Houthi supporters have set up dozens of tents inside Al-Thawra amusement park in Al-Jeraf area north of Sana’a on Friday.

Thousands of Houthi loyalists filled the streets on Friday, along the Airport Road, demanding the government’s resignation, a reversal of its decision to raise fuel prices, and the implementation of the National Dialogue Conference (NDC) outcomes.

Several government offices and ministries are located in Al-Jeraf area where Houthis have spread their encampments, including the ministries of interior, electricity, and telecommunication. “The group has erected new tents in Al-Thawra park. This is the beginning of the revolutionary phase which began on Friday and was announced by the group’s leader, Abdumalik Al-Houthi,” said Hizam Al-Assad, a member of the Houthis’ political office.

Saad Bin Aqeel, a Sunni Mufti from Taiz governorate, presented Friday’s sermon to the Houthi masses in an attempt to show Sunni support for the Shia Houthi group.

A Mufti is an Islamic scholar who is consulted for religious rulings and judgments. The idea underlying Bin Aqeel’s sermon was to emphasize that all religious sects in Yemen are present in the sit-ins which the Houthis began on Monday in the vicinity of the residence of Sheikh Abdullah Bin Hussein Al-Ahmar’s sons.

Since Hussein Al-Ahmar’s sons witnessed feuds with the Houthis in the past, the current sit-in could create tension in the area, according to Nabeel Al-Sharjabi, a professor of political science at Sana’a University.

Houthis have previously engaged in fighting with tribesmen, including Al-Ahmar’s sons, in different areas in Amran governorate, located 50 kilometers north of Sana’a. On July 8 Houthis took control over Amran.

Bin Aqeel requested his audience to erect tents near the ministries and to peacefully exert pressure on the government to meet the people’s demands.

“All sit-ins inside Sana’a will be peaceful, we will not use guns. Sana’a is not an ordinary governorate, it is the capital and it deserves respect,” assured Al-Assad.

Since Monday armed Houthi supporters have spread their presence along the entrance of Sana’a in Al-Subaha area west of the capital, Hizyaz area, south of the capital, and in Al-Azzvaqain, north of the capital. The camps were established to repel potential attacks from the government forces on Houthi demonstrators in the capital.