Sana’a, Asharq Al-Awsat—Amid growing tensions in the Yemeni capital of Sana’a, President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi launched a vehement attack on the Houthi movement occupying protests sites across the capital on Wednesday.
Speaking at a meeting in the capital, President Hadi denounced the Houthis as “reckless,” accused them of implementing a “sectarian agenda,” and vowed to expel them from Sana’a.
Thousands of members of the movement have occupied protest camps across Sana’a since the beginning of last week, and have issued a number of demands including the resignation of the government and the restoration of fuel subsidies, which were slashed in July.
Talks between the government and the Houthis broke down at the start of this week, with both sides calling on the other to make concessions.
During his address on Wednesday, President Hadi accused the Houthis of breaking an agreement made in secret talks not to storm Amran governorate, which the movement did in July.
He said: “[The] Houthis attacked the Amran and Hashid areas after the agreement and broke their promises, just like they always do.” He accused the movement of thinking “only . . . about ruling Yemen” and said they did “not care about the fuel subsidies or the people.”
The Yemeni president also launched a scathing attack on Iran, accusing it of supporting the Houthis. He said: “Iran heavily interferes in Yemen’s affairs and there are four groups affiliated to it that are working against Yemen, and there are Iranian advisers [working for Houthi leader] Abdul Malik Al-Houthi.”
Meanwhile, thousands of Houthis responded to a call by their leader Abdul Malik Al-Houthi to continue their demonstrations in Sana’a. In a speech on Tuesday evening, Houthi called on the army to act as “the defender of the public.”
Yemeni troops and police forces have been deployed at key areas across Sana’a, in a bid to prevent the Houthis from shutting the city down, and in response to armed Houthis taking up positions on rooftops in the city.
The Houthi leader said the protests would continue next week, and would be followed by the “third stage,” which he described as “the most painful,” though he added that he hoped “we don’t reach that stage, because it is going to be very uncomfortable.”
He said “the revolution as no longer about rejecting fuel subsidies, but about deciding the future of Yemenis.”
In the meantime, the UN secretary-general’s special envoy to Yemen, Jamal Benomar, said in a televised speech on Tuesday evening that all parties were responsible for the current situation in Yemen.
“They should all realize that there is no way out of this crisis except through a peaceful, consensus solution, based on the decisions of the National Dialogue Conference which were agreed on by Yemenis and supported by UN Resolution 2140,” he said.
“All sides must rise above party and sectarian interests if they really are concerned for the greater interests of Yemen and [want] to avoid the worst,” he added. “I am certain that Yemenis are capable of reaching agreement on a peaceful solution to the crisis.”