The Huthis Encircle Sana’a
… Huthi gunmen have come from Sad’ah and other provinces to militarily surround the capital Sana’a …
OE Watch Commentary: The gradual expansion of Yemen’s Huthi Movement (Ansarullah) from its stronghold in Sa’dah in the north down to the Yemeni capital of Sana’a appears to be nearing completion. Over the past several weeks the Huthis and their armed supporters have encircled the capital by setting up “armed protest camps” at various strategic entry points. At the same time, Huthi supporters inside the capital have set up protest sites and organized marches, sit-ins and other forms of collective action that have brought key parts of the capital to a virtual standstill. The first accompanying excerpt, from the English-language daily Yemen Times, describes these two different protest camps. The marches and protests in the capital are purportedly in response to austerity measures passed in July, which included a slashing of fuel subsidies. Protesters are calling for the government to be replaced, the austerity measures to be rolled back, and the National Dialogue Conference measures agreed upon earlier this year to be implemented. Negotiations between the Huthis and the government, however, failed to produce a breakthrough, and focus turned toward the Huthi armed encampments on the capital’s outskirts. The second accompanying article, from the Yemeni daily al-Masdar, describes the Huthis’ rapid military encircling of the capital. It explains how they set up positions in high points overlooking Sana’a while simultaneously establishing camps alongside sensitive government installations. The article also claims that Huthi militiamen began harassing nearby Yemeni army units as soon as the camps were set up. In early September fighting broke out in the southern Hiziaz area between Huthi gunmen and soldiers stationed at a nearby “Reserve Forces” military base (prior to the 2012 military restructuring this had been an important Yemeni Republican Guard base). The third accompanying article, written by Yemeni political analyst Yassin al-Tamimi, explains the logic behind the fighting in Hiziaz, as well as the broader role that information and propaganda are playing in the Huthi encroachment on the capital. Specifically, the author argues that the Huthis and loyalists of the deposed president Ali Abdullah Saleh are sowing divisions among the armed forces in order to take over key bases adjacent to the Huthi encampments. Several Yemeni newspapers have reported on low morale within Yemen’s armed forces, in contrast to what appear to be high levels of motivation and commitment within the ranks of Huthi fighters and their supporters. The Saudi paper, Okaz, recently claimed that the Yemeni military had launched an internal investigation of officers aiding the Huthi cause, as the fourth accompanying article notes. Although Sana’a is the most important battleground between the Huthis and the government, it is far from the only one. In the key provinces of al-Jawf and Mareb, heavy clashes have been taking place for several weeks between Huthi backers and the Yemeni military and its tribal backers. Additionally, the Huthis continue to control the key city of Amran and are also making a new push to take over the Red Sea port city of Midi. Additionally, the Huthis continue to control the key city of Amran and are also making a new push to take over the Red Sea port city of Midi according to Yemeni media reports. End OE Watch Commentary (Winter)
Source: Ali Ibrahim Al-Moshki. “Houthi Camps in the Capital Continue to Grow,” 28 August 2014. Yemen Times.
There are daily marches in the streets around the camps, in addition to night festivals crowded with protesters inside the square. While most of the protesters appear follow Houthi leader Abdulmalik Al-Houthi, the Yemen Times talked to a few protesters in the camps who are members of the General People’s Congress (GPC) and support the Houthis’ cause… The Yemen Times did not see any weapons being carried openly in the camps within Sana’a. However, in the camps on the outskirts of the capital—which have been growing steadily since being established on August 18—it appeared that every person carried at least one weapon.
Source: “The Huthis Amass to Encircle the Capital with Armed Camps and Use Bulldozers to Dig Trenches and Barricades,” 19 August 2014. Al-Masdar.
Huthi gunmen have come from Sad’ah and other provinces to militarily surround the capital Sana’a and build armed camps at several of its entry points, in addition to digging trenches and building barricades in the mountains to the west… The Huthis chose sensitive locations at the capital’s entry to set up their armed encampments, to which thousands of gunmen have headed since this morning from the provinces of Sad’ah, Amran, Dhamar and Hajjah.
Source: Yassin al-Tamimi. “The Problem of Narrow Loyalties in the Yemeni Army,” 14 September 2014. al-Ahale.
The goal of enflaming the military situation around the Reserve Base was to take over the base, though not militarily given that there is no comparison between the tribal gunmen and their limited firepower and the massive firepower and fighting strength of the Reserve Base. According to anonymous sources, the goal was to expedite a plan that was carefully drawn up and which was to be carried out by allies of the former president and leaders within the camp related to the Huthi leader. The surprise visit by the Yemeni president wearing military attire, as was announced in Sana’a, foiled this plan… The Yemeni president faces the major problem of the tyranny of narrow loyalties among Yemen military personnel… on top of that he is currently facing the most dangerous campaign of polarization based on sectarian and regional identities by former military leaders and the Huthis…
Source: “Military Prosecutors Investigate Military Leaders for Conspiring with the Huthis,” 16 September 2014. Mareb Press.
Military prosecutors are conducting an investigation of military leaders for conspiring with the Huthis and providing intelligence to the Huthis and the air force which negatively affect the Yemeni state and current authorities and aim to benefit the Huthis on the ground. Saudi newspaper Okaz cited military sources saying that a senior officer in the special forces’ intelligence administration is one of the suspected conspirators with the Huthis and that other leaders are under investigation in the hopes of being caught red-handed.