Yemen: Houthis expanding operations could cause further bloodshed
Abd-Rabbo Mansour Hadi, the president of Yemen, has asked the Ansar Allah group - also known as the Houthis - not to expand operations, in a bid to avoid further bloodshed.
The president made his remarks at a meeting with Minister of Defence Mahmoud al-Subaihi held to discuss Yemen's varied challenges.
"Hadi wants to avoid bloodshed and stop the conflict taking on a sectarian angle, one that everyone opposes," reported the Yemeni news agency, Saba.
|Hadi wants to avoid bloodshed and stop the conflict taking on a sectarian angle.
- Saba, Yemeni news agency.
The president also outlined the economic and security challenges facing the country. Yemen is going through "a delicate stage", one all parties must take responsibility for, he said.
This is the highest-profile meeting of this type to have taken place since the Houthis seized control of Yemen's capital, Sanaa, on 21 September 2014. The Shia insurgent group took over military sites and facilities, including the General Command of the Armed Forces headquarters.
There have been tensions in the central Marib province, as concerns mount that the Houthis are planning to seize the area in cooperation with Yemeni authorities. There are fears the group will claim it is "protecting" the province's petrol installations and and pursuing what it calls takfiris ["apostates"].
The widening of the Houthis' influence is causing discontent among the country's tribal leaders, who have threatened to confront the group, targeting oil export pipelines and power grids if the Houthis enter the province.
The Houthis have previously clashed with armed tribal members and al-Qaeda fighters alike in al-Bayda province, close to Marib. Local observers fear that if the Houthis move towards the central provinces it will encourage the rise of other armed groups, who will say they are protecting territory from the Houthis.
This article is an edited translation from our Arabic edition.