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Yemeni army inaction played into rebels' hands: official - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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Students attend a class outside their school compound after Houthi rebels took over the school during recent fighting with government forces in Sana'a on September 29, 2014. (Reuters/Mohamed Al-Sayaghi)

Students attend a class outside their school compound after Houthi rebels took over the school during recent fighting with government forces in Sana’a on September 29, 2014. (Reuters/Mohamed Al-Sayaghi)

Sana’a, Asharq Al-Awsat—Yemen’s army has played a role in facilitating the rebels’ advance on the capital Sana’a by maintaining a neutral line during last month’s events that saw Houthis take control of almost all government buildings, a military source told Asharq Al-Awsat.

“The strength of the Houthis is not as it seemed in the past weeks, rather treason has weakened the position of the Yemeni army,” a Yemeni military source who spoke on the condition of anonymity told Asharq Al-Awsat.

Militants loyal to Yemen’s Shi’ite leader Abdul Malik Al-Houthi overran several military bases and government buildings on September 21 with almost no resistance from government forces in Sana’a.

The army’s failure to intervene raised questions about its links with the Houthis; many Yemeni officials blamed remnants of the regime of former President Ali Abdullah Saleh.

Military officials loyal to Saleh have ordered army units to refrain from engaging with Houthis, the source added, maintaining that “what happened in Sana’a amounts to a conspiracy against President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi.”

The Armed Forces’ inaction in Sana’a contrasts with its active role in fighting militants affiliated with Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP).

After an UN-brokered deal with the Houthis, the central government agreed to yield to rebels’ demands, including the appointment of two presidential advisors, slashing fuel prices and allowing the Houthis wider participation in government.

The source claimed that Yemen will witness fierce fighting between AQAP and Houthis whose positions have recently come under attack from the Islamist group.

In a move aimed at exerting further control over the government, Houthis ordered the Ministry of Finance on Thursday to suspend all payment except salaries for public workers.

The demand, a member of the group’s politburo Abdel Malik Al-Ejri maintained, aims to protect public funds during the current turmoil in the country.

Meanwhile, in a report issued on Thursday, the Sana’a Media Center for Human Rights said Shi’ite insurgents have so far looted 62 houses, 35 state institutions, 29 government buildings, 26 educational institutions, 35 mosques and five clinics since they seized control of Sana’a.