Sana’a, Asharq Al-Awsat—Yemen’s southern secessionist Al-Hirak movement has offered to work with the Shi’ite Houthi movement which recently seized control of the country’s government, to help ease Yemen’s political crisis, as reports surface that the Houthis have begun buying the loyalty of local tribes with government funds.
The latest developments come as Houthi fighters seek to consolidate their grip in Sana’a province, following sporadic armed clashes between the militia’s gunmen and local Sunni tribesmen.
The Houthis rejected a UN Security Council resolution adopted on Sunday calling on the movement to cede power. Responding to the UN, the Houthis issued a statement calling on the international body to “respect the will and sovereignty of the Yemeni people.”
As well as attempting to buy the submission of possible challengers, local tribal sources told Asharq Al-Awsat the Houthis had blown up the homes of a number of tribal leaders in a show of force on Monday.
Houthi fighters are also continuing to expand their presence in the central province of Al-Bayda. According to local sources, armed members of the movement were able to enter and take over the Al-Bayda district of Al-Zahra on Tuesday, meeting no local resistance, after reports emerged that some of the local tribes may have been bought off.
Sources within the Joint Meeting Parties (JMP) informed Asharq Al-Awsat they intend to boycott the UN-backed dialogue to find a political solution to the crisis, citing the deteriorating health of former president Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi, who remains under Houthi house arrest in Sana’a.
However Yemen’s southern secessionist Al-Hirak movement has said it is ready to work with the Houthis within the framework of the UN-backed dialogue to reach a solution to the deteriorating political and security situation in the country.
Mohamed Helboub, a senior member of Al-Hirak, told Asharq Al-Awsat: “The Houthis are not ready or capable of carrying out the task they have taken up, particularly as they did not think they would reach this position so quickly. They have now crossed a line and they will find it very difficult to go back.”
“[However], as the Houthis are part of Yemen’s political makeup, we are ready to work with them to find a way out of this quagmire,” he added.
Yemen’s Al-Hirak movement has been increasingly pushing for southern secession in recent months. Massive protests were held in the southern port of Aden last year to mark the 47th anniversary of the country’s independence from Britain—which saw it split into two states—and call for the re-establishment of an independent southern state.
“We are looking for a comprehensive national solution, and if this solution is incumbent on Yemen to be split into two separate states, then that is what we will do,” Helboub said. However, the Houthis have previously issued statements categorically rejecting any “federalization” in Yemen, including splitting the country into six federal states as agreed in Yemen’s National Dialogue Conference.