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Yemen: Houthis push to control oil-rich province - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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Member of the Shi'ite Muslim Houthi movement mans a machine gun during a patrol in Sana'a. (Reuters)

Member of the Shi’ite Muslim Houthi movement mans a machine gun during a patrol in Sanaa. (Reuters)

Sana’a, Asharq Al-Awsat—Yemen’s rebel militias are closing in on the oil-rich Marib province, a source told Asharq Al-Awsat, as uncertainty continues to shroud the country’s political scene.

Houthi militants launched on Friday a military campaign to seize control of oil and electricity facilities in the Marib province, 75 miles (120 kilometers) east of the capital Sana’a, as part of the group’s efforts to boost its control of the country’s natural resources, a political source who spoke on the condition of anonymity told Asharq Al-Awsat.

Militants loyal to Shi’ite leader Abdel Malik Al-Houthi have remained in full control of state buildings after almost two weeks of storming the Yemeni capital.

It was reported that dozens of Houthi rebels have been deployed recently near the country’s key oil and electricity facilities, including the Ministry of Oil and Minerals, Masila Petroleum Exploration and Production Company and Yemen Oil and Gas Corporation, among others.

Controlling oil and electricity resources in Yemen will give a boost to the group that is almost in full control of all public funds, he said.

The source warned of violent clashes breaking out in the province which is home to the country’s main oil-export pipeline.

On Thursday, Houthi rebels ordered the Ministry of Finance to suspend all public payments except salaries to government workers in a step they said was aimed at protecting government funds.

The Shi’ite movement has also banned the Ministry of Civil Service and Insurance from making any decisions regarding employment until a new government is formed under an UN-brokered deal, the source said.

Meanwhile, no progress has been made in government formation talks between President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi and Houthis, a source said.

“Houthis want almost entirely to control government formation, a process which is supposed to be agreed by all parties,” a government source who spoke on the condition of anonymity told Asharq Al-Awsat.

The official also warned that “Houthis will fail to honour their agreement with the UN Envoy to Yemen Jamal Benomar to withdraw from Sana’a before Eid Al-Adha holiday.”

Last month, Yemen’s central government and Houthis signed a deal under the aegis of the UN to put an end to the crisis that has engulfed the country. The terms of the agreement included forming a new cabinet, reversing a controversial fuel subsidy cut and allowing Shi’ite rebels wider participation in the government.