Speaking on the condition of anonymity for fear of reprisals, a security source told Asharq Al-Awsat that several Houthi militants stormed the office of Al-Hudaydah governor Sakhr Al-Wajih on Sunday after evicting his security guards.
The militants forced the governor to sign documents that gave official force to several of their demands, including the approval of all government payments by the office of Ansar Allah—a militant group affiliated with the Houthis—in the city, and the integration of as many as 4,000 of its members into the security and military forces of the governorate.
They also asked the governor to replace some provincial officials with their figures from their group, the source added.
According to the source, the governor said he would have to consult with the presidency in Sana’a and higher authorities before taking any measures. According to reports, Wajih subsequently resigned from his post.
An UN-brokered agreement signed between President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi and the Houthis in September stipulated the integration of the group’s militants into the security and military establishments, in exchange for refraining from engaging in violence and withdrawing from the Sana’a.
Over the past month, the Yemeni presidency has been flooded with thousands of requests from Houthi militants in Sa’ada, the group’s stronghold in the north, and Hudaydah, requesting to be integrated into the ranks of the country’s armed forces and security services.
Meanwhile, a senior tribal leader and MP from the city of Amran, Sheikh Sagheer bin Aziz, survived an assassination attempt in the Tahrir Street in the north of Sana’a on Sunday. A number of the Sheikh’s guards were killed and injured in the attack. The perpetrators have yet to be identified.
In a new sign of the government’s loosening grip over the country, eyewitnesses who also requested anonymity told Asharq Al-Awsat that Sana’a International Airport has become completely under the control of Houthi insurgents.
The Houthis, a largely Shi’ite movement which follows Abdel-Malik Al-Houthi overran almost all of government and military buildings in Sana’a in September following a month-long rally over alleged discrimination by the central government against the country’s Shi’ite minority.
Faced with little or no government resistance, the insurgent group has spread from its stronghold in the north, taking over key western and central cities and drawing criticism from the country’s radical Sunni groups, including Al-Qaeda in the Arabia Peninsula (AQAP), which has launched several lethal bomb attacks on the Houthis and their supporters.