Houthis pour reinforcements into Taiz

Houthis pour reinforcements into Taiz
3 min read
30 March, 2015
Analysis: Reinforcements and armed convoys seen moving into southern province, with reports Houthis are preparing to deploy fighters along Saudi border.
The Houthis had reported to have based themselves in a special forces camp [AFP]

It seems that the province of Taiz in south Yemen, the largest in the country in terms of population, will be the next victim of the chaos brought about by the alliance between former president Ali Abdullah Saleh and the Houthis.

Despite efforts by local political forces and local authorities to spare the province from total collapse in state institutions and from the spiral of civil war, Saleh and the Houthis are preparing for battle in Taiz.

Following the start of airstrikes launched by the Saudi-led Operation Decisive Storm, Houthi and pro-Saleh militants have started to expand their presence in the city.

For several days now, reinforcements and armed convoys have arrived in the city.

Ahmed al-Wafi, an activist, told al-Araby al-Jadeed that Houthi and pro-Saleh militants in Taiz were on high alert to suppress peaceful activists in the city and the province.

Wafi said a special forces camp in Taiz is now being used by the Houthis as a base, with various types of weapons arriving from the Hodeidah province in western Yemen.

Reinforcements arrived from Sanaa in mid-March. The governor of Taiz, Shawqi Ahmed Hael, has deemed the forces in the base, under the command of Brigadier General Mohammed Hammoud al-Harithi, as rogue forces, for allying themselves with the Houthi group.

Yassin Abdul-Alim al-Qabati, the director of the Transitional Justice Centre, told al-Araby that the Houthis told him the mobilisation in Taiz was in preparation for deployment along the border with Saudi Arabia, "to protect Yemeni territory".

Qabati claimed the Houthis planned to raid the central prison in Taiz and release its inmates to instigate chaos in the province.

Houthis infiltrate security services

Meanwhile, al-Araby has learned from security sources that Sadeq Abu Shawarib, member of the Houthi group's Revolutionary Committee, has been holding intensive meetings in Taiz to persuade the chief of the military policy in the province and other military commanders to accept recruiting members of the Houthi group in their security services.

The sources also say that Houthi militants and personnel from the Republican Guard in the 22nd Brigade base loyal to Ali Abdullah Saleh's son have deployed near the radio and television building in the northern district of Taiz city.

On the other hand, a Yemeni official at the governorate office, who asked not to be named, said the political and security situation in Taiz was very tense.

He said the Security Committee was divided between those who support the Houthis and those who support Hadi's government, and said a meeting was held between local political parties, the Houthis, and local government officials on 28 March to reach an agreement aiming to spare Taiz from the military conflict.

However, the official said, the meeting failed to reach an agreement.

This is an edited translation from the original Arabic.