Houthis Honor Coup Anniversary, Overlook National ‘September 26 Revolution’

Supporters of the Shi'ite Houthi attend hold a poster of the group's leader Abdul-Malik al-Houthi during an anti-government rally in Sanaa

Aden- Insurgency militias in Yemen overlooked celebrations commemorating the 55th anniversary of the ‘September 26 Revolution,’ which laid the foundations to the unified Yemen.

Celebrated first in 1962, Yemenis have over the decades dedicated a great deal of festivity and adoration for the day which resonates with their national identity. Iran-aligned Houthi militias scrapped away at the occasion, choosing that Yemenis living under their control would celebrate the ‘September 21 Revolution,’ the day marking militias storming in and taking over the capital Sana’a in 2014.

Yemenis celebrated “September 26 Revolution” amid tight restrictions imposed by coup militias, who have abolished all support to the republic system and turned it into a Tehran-inspired regime, the main supporter of the Houthi insurgents.

Yemeni Culture Minister Marwan Damaj says that post-coup events add up to “an extension to the counterrevolution going against the Republic and the (September 26 Revolution).”

“The Yemeni revolution has been subjected to multiple rising conspiracies since the sixties until this very moment, and the 2014 coup is only an expanded and clear model of this counter-revolution aimed at making the Yemenis’ struggles for decades to establish the state of law and order futile,” Damaj told Asharq Al-Awsat.

“Yemenis will not give up their republic, which is a peaceful and tolerating regime, despite the different tools and method of governance available in the region– it is the most appropriate for Yemen and the most suitable for its neighbors and poses no danger of any kind, contrary to what the coupists are eyeing,” said Damaj.

“Houthis are dangerous to Yemen and the region because they are supported by dangerous regional forces going against social peace in the region and the world,” explained Dammaj.

“The “26 September Revolution” in 1962 was targeted by wars, plots and inner treachery from day one— but the revolution did not stop at attempts to blur, distort and falsify its spirit,” he added.

At Least 21 Journalists Held Captive by Houthi Militias in Yemen

Yemen

Aden- Journalists in Yemen are the subject to ongoing oppression and tragic setback as insurgency militias exercise brutal authority inhibiting the press.

Iran-allied Houthi militias along with armed loyalists backing ousted president Ali Abdullah Saleh have employed coercive control against the Sana’a-based government news agency and independent partisan outlets since the start of the coup.

Meanwhile, voices are raised demanding the release of journalists detained by coup militias, the number of captives rose to 21 journalists last week.

Houthi militias arrested a number of pro-coup journalists, most of which advocating Saleh loyalists forces.

Despite the coup’s so-called Supreme Political Council President Saleh al-Samad ordering the release of Yahya Abdel-Raqib al-Jubeihi who is both journalist and university professor that was sentenced by the Houthi court to death for his anti-coup views, he remains in lock up.

Samad also issued directives to free remaining detained journalists, but none of the orders were followed with action.

Al-Maqri, a journalist imprisoned by the extremist al-Qaeda off-shoot AQAP, is still held in captivity. He was kidnapped by the terror group in Hadramout before pro-government forces, backed by the Saudi-led Arab coalition, liberated the city of Mukalla and other coastal cities in April 2016.

According to Nabil al-Asidi, a member of the Yemeni Syndicate of Journalists, “most detainees in the hands of militias are subjected to torture, psychological trauma, and are suffering from many diseases.”

“Militias refuse to treat them or offer them medical assistance,” Asidi told Asharq Al-Awsat.

“Veteran journalist Yahya al-Jubeihi, sentenced to death, suffers from severe asthma and deteriorating health conditions.”

“Abdel Rahim Mohsen, kidnapped by the militia while receiving treatment in a hospital in Rahda city and has fallen into coma repeatedly as a result of continued torture and violent interrogation,” Asidi cited information received by the syndicate.

“As for the statement on the coup granting a general amnesty for all journalists and ordering their release, including the journalist al-Jubeihi, the syndicate stresses that it is their right to be free, and not a privilege to be granted by coup militias,” he said.

“The kidnapping and arrest by the militias constitute a crime against the law and those militias are violating perpetrators, yet we are still waiting for the truth behind their promises to release journalists and give them the freedom they deserve,” he added.

Pro-Saleh Bloc Struggles to Retain Political Weight in Yemen

Yemen

Aden- Yemen’s General People’s Congress a predominantly nationalist bloc backing the ousted president Ali Abdullah Saleh have been increasingly holding conferences and meetings in insurgency-held areas without their coup ally, Iran-allied Houthis.

The upsurge in social activity started coincidently with the commencement of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, some 20 days ago.

The evenings saw the distribution of new party membership cards, a move that raised many questions, local sources told Asharq Al-Awsat.

What is more is that a dubious revision of memberships was the highlight of most meetings.

“There is a large effort being spent on rallying supporters in local and residential neighborhoods—such as hosting Ramadan evenings in hopes of mobilizing loyalists, not only in Sanaa, but across other provinces such as Jawf, Amran and Dhamar,” said a Sanaa-based party leader.

The campaign led by the pro-Saleh political wing provokes memories of a similar approach the bloc launched in 1990 after the Yemeni Unification.

Campaigning strategy focused on state employees, school and university students, in a tactic aiming at systematic polarization. Most of the then campaign was determined on marginalizing the other political party, the Yemeni Socialist Party.

People’s Congress Party Leader Yasser al-Awadhi, said in statements quoted by the party’s official website, that the campaign is “to bring together supporters.”

He reiterated the party’s support for the insurgency pro-Saleh loyalists staged hand in hand with Iran-backed Houthis.

On the other hand, sources said that the move aims to patch whatever schism there is in hopes of stopping a pro-government cabinet session in Aden next month.

The General People’s Congress party was established in 1982 in Sana’a, North Yemen, by former president Ali Abdullah Saleh. Following Yemeni unification in 1990, and with Saleh continuing as president of the united country, it emerged as the largest party in the 1993 parliamentary elections, winning 123 of the 301 seats.

Saleh was re-elected as President in the first direct presidential elections in 1999, and the party won a landslide victory in the 2003 parliamentary elections, winning 226 of the 301 seats. Saleh was re-elected again in 2006. After Saleh was forced to stand down as a result of the Yemeni revolution, the party’s Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi was elected as his successor.

Aden’s Governor: Improving Services, Fighting Terrorism are my Priorities

Yemen

Aden – Yemeni President Abed Rabbu Mansour Hadi has elected a new governor Abdulaziz al-Maflhi following Aidarous Zoubeidi who was appointed an ambassador at the Foreign Ministry.

Maflahi announced that his priorities for the coming period is reforming the services Aden, especially water, electricity and roads.

Speaking to Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper, Meflhi said that he aims to stabilize the security in the city and continue to fight terrorism and extremism. He called upon all parties to unite in order to restore the life back in the city away from political disagreements.

He stressed that one of his top priorities at this stage is the rehabilitation of the public services network and to launch the economic recovery process in the country.

Meflhi added that he wants to rebuild what was destroyed by the Saleh and Houthis’ militias’ war in the city. He reiterated the importance of efforts exerted by the Saudi-led coalition.

The new governor also stated that enhancing the economic situation in the city is linked to the security, and that is why he stressed that it is importance to maintain the positive results achieved so far.

Maflhi arrived to Aden Saturday from Riyadh, Saudi capital, to take over his duties as head of the local authority in Aden.

He was received by the Deputy Prime Minister and Interior Minister Major General Hussein Mohammed Arab, a large number of military and security leaders, members of the local authority and a crowd of citizens.

Sources revealed that Maflhi began holding meetings to choose his staff as many believe that he will be able to take the city out the situation it was left in following the war.

Governor Maflhi is the fourth to take this position in the city since the war erupted in 2015. He thanked all previous governors for the efforts they exerted in enhancing the security of Aden.

Yemeni Political, Military Support for Hadi’s Sudden Orders

Yemen

Aden – Yemeni President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi has carried out a reshuffle in Dr. Ahmed Obaid bin Dagher’s government that included four ministerial portfolios – the justice, social affairs and labor, public works and infrastructures and human rights ministries – in addition to assigning a new deputy minister.

Hadi’s orders did not only include cabinet reshuffling but also witnessed the dismissal of Aden’s Governor Aydros al-Zubaidi and State Minister Hani Ali bin Bark, who was forwarded to probing.

As much as Hadi’s decisions were surprising, they have led to mixed reactions in the Yemeni arena. In general, they have received wide support by various ministers, governors and heads of the security and government agencies while some parties have criticized them in the context of what is described in any regime as internal conflicts, according to some observers.

In this matter, the cabinet reshuffle was expected to be carried out few weeks ago, and observers believe that dismissing Aden’s governor was due to the fragile situation regarding the services in the interim capital, Aden, along with the growing criticism of the legitimate government over the apparent shorten in action when it comes to this area despite the improvement in security aspects.

Recently, terrorist groups and sleeper cells, which the government has repeatedly accused Saleh and Houthis of recruiting them in southern Yemen, were besieged.

At the time when the cabinet reshuffle was carried out one year after the formation of bin Dagher’s government, observers said that President Hadi has the right to issue appropriate decisions, in light of his assessment of the performance of officials, according to what Political Analyst Bassem al-Hakimi told Asharq Al-Awsat.

Hakimi praised the performance of the former governor of Aden, who took control and contributed greatly to improving the security situation in the interim capital during a critical phase and called on Yemeni political parties to “assume responsibility.”

Deputy Secretary General of YSP: ‘Peace Doesn’t Mean Impunity for War Criminals’

Yemen

Aden – Deputy Secretary General of the Yemeni Socialist Party (YSP) Dr. Mohammed al-Mekhlafi stressed the need to bring those who committed war crimes before the courts.

Mekhlafi noted the importance of distinguishing between criminals as individuals and the social force that led them to war.

The former Minister of Legal Affairs in the Yemeni government of national accord said that the state monopoly on arms eradicated terrorism.

He confirmed that Yemenis realized that ending the crisis in their country and achieving a successful transitional period require partnership and consensus, which was confirmed by the Gulf initiative agreement and the mechanism adopted for the transfer of power.

“Partnership and consensus here mean the partnership of political parties and their consensus in managing the transitional period until achieving the transition to a federal state and carrying out elections,” Mekhlafi explained.

In an interview with Asharq Al-Awsat, Mekhlafi spoke about Yemen’s current issues, including the transitional justice, the recovery of looted funds as well as extremism and terrorism and the ambitions and capabilities of some regional parties and their efforts to spread chaos in the region.

Regarding the risks of declaring state of emergency in provinces that fall under the control of Houthi militias, Mekhlafi said that the state of emergency is usually declared by legitimate authorities, and according to the Yemeni constitution it should be announced by the President, based on emergency law and continues with the approval of the legislature.

He explained that these rules are put to maintain the constitution and the law from violations.

However, he said, declaring state of emergency by a rebelled and outlawed group proves nothing but their attempts to breach rights and freedoms.

He urged peace forces and human rights defenders all over the world to seek lifting this threat on the Yemenis and ending the coup to restore the state.

When asked about warnings that Yemen is up to suffer from the most humanitarian catastrophe in the world and mean of preventing it in light of the continuation of the war, Mekhlafi said that indicators for this catastrophe is right before everyone.

“There are three million displaced Yemenis in the country and abroad, and there are more than seven million Yemenis suffering from starvation, especially in Hodeidah, Taiz and Sana’a,” Mekhlafi said.

He added that there are around 19 million Yemeni citizens who need urgent humanitarian aid, and the main reason behind these numbers is “of course, the war.”

The former Minister said that it is not possible to end this humanitarian catastrophe in light of war, and there are extra factors that made things worse for people.

According to Mekhlafi, these extra factors include not paying the employees in the public sector their salaries, the control of humanitarian aids by Houthi militias, the siege imposed on several provinces, selling products that people use as their basic needs in black market and lack of world concern, which means weak international assistance to war victims.