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Yemen: Ma’rib governor warns Houthis against advance | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Ma’rib Governor Sultan Al-Arada. (Asharq Al-Awsat)

Ma'rib Governor Sultan Al-Arada. (Asharq Al-Awsat)

Ma’rib Governor Sultan Al-Arada. (Asharq Al-Awsat)

Sana’a, Asharq Al-Awsat—The governor of Yemen’s Ma’rib province Sultan Al-Arada said local tribes have every right to defend the province from the advance of Houthi fighters, rejecting the “constitutional declaration” issued by the Shi’ite rebel group last week after seizing power in the country.

“There can be no doubt that defending oneself and territory is a legitimate right, particularly if the attack is coming from those who do not possess any legitimacy whatsoever,” he told Asharq Al-Awsat.

“We in Ma’rib, as a local authority and defense committee and political force, have collectively taken the decision to manage our own affairs in the province and carry out our duty towards our province and homeland,” he added.

Ma’rib is the country’s main oil and gas hub, and provides Yemen—the poorest country in the Arabian peninsula—with the bulk of its electricity and a sizable portion of its income.

There have been reports of a Houthi presence on the outskirts of the province since the group’s takeover of Sana’a in September with the Shi’ite militia continuing to seek the expansion of its control in northern and central areas of the country.

However Arada sought to play down fears of an imminent Houthi advance, dismissing the reports as a “psychological campaign” being waged by the group, stressing that “the situation in Ma’rib is normal.”

The Ma’rib governor said that oil companies in the province are also operating as usual and providing Yemen with energy, but this could change if the Houthi militia takes the decision to gain control of the central province.

Arada told Asharq Al-Awsat: “The people of Ma’rib are patriots and are very careful not to hurt the rest of the Yemeni people. However if mistakes are made by an aggressive party that wants to invade the province with its armed militia, then this will put everything at risk because war only leads to chaos and destruction.”

The governor strongly denied allegations that the central province was harboring “takfirist” Sunni forces, as the Shi’ite Houthi group has claimed. “If they are trying to label those in this province as terrorists, then this is a blatant lie and fabrication,” he said.