According to a local source who spoke to Asharq Al-Awsat on the condition of anonymity, Houthi members have surrounded a number of mosques in the city of Sa’dah in northern Yemen as part of their efforts to gain control over Salafi places of worship.
“The Houthis are preparing for a new phase in Sa’dah, which is now under their control on both security and military levels,” the source told Asharq Al-Awsat.
“They are trying to impose direct rule over the province and proclaim it a Houthi region governed by the so-called Ansar Allah, the name under which the Houthis are participating in the national dialogue conference,” the source added.
The source pointed out that the Houthis are trying to find an excuse to drop out of the comprehensive national dialogue conference, after realizing that efforts to secure their own region have failed.
The militant group wants an area to include the provinces of Sa’dah, Hajjah, and Al-Jawf as well as some regions in the Umran Province, as well as a presence on the Red Sea near the Yemeni–Saudi border.
Currently, the Houthis are in control of the Sa’dah Province and parts of the neighboring Al-Jawf.
The group is also recruiting scores of young men from areas they control and from several southern provinces because of recently established ties with figures in a number of these areas. At present, they are trying to impose control over the “Al-Tuhami Hirak” in the west of the country by providing them with huge sums of money to fund their activities.
Houthi sources have declined comment on this information despite repeated calls from Asharq Al-Awsat to several people.
These events coincide with reports that the Houthis will soon receive the body of Hussein Badr Al-Din Al-Huthi, which will arrive from Germany where DNA tests were carried out to verify his identity. Local sources say that the Houthis are preparing to hold a large funeral and build a mausoleum for Hussein Al-Huthi that will become a shrine in future.
In other news, Yemeni police today raided a house in Aden, killing one suspected Al-Qaeda militant and arresting three. According to a Yemeni official, the cell was plotting attacks on vital installations.
Three other suspected members of the cell were arrested and police seized dozens of explosive belts.
Al-Qaeda was driven out of most of its strongholds across south Yemen in an army offensive backed by US drone strikes last year.
The militants have withdrawn to mountainous regions in several provinces and although weakened still manage to launch frequent hit-and-run attacks on police and army officers.