Sana’a, Asharq Al-Awsat—Shi’ite Houthi fighters said on Saturday they had cut off the main road leading to Yemen’s main airport, as fighting between the rebels and the country’s military spreads to areas surrounding the capital, Sana’a.
The rebels said they had positioned themselves in the Al-Jaraf area, which separates Sana’a International Airport from the Al-Daylami air force base on the outskirts of the city.
They also laid siege to the village of Al-Dhufair, a few miles outside Sana’a, during the last few days, bombing a reception center for the Yemeni armed forces as they tried to take control of the strategic area of Hamdan, northwest of the capital. They also besieged areas under the control of the rival Al-Ahmar tribe.
This comes following the breaking of a ceasefire agreed between the Houthis and Yemen’s government earlier this month to end fighting in the country’s northwestern Amran region.
Fighting in the area has been raging for the last two months. It is estimated around 400 people, mostly Houthis, have been killed in the conflict, with residents also leaving the region to escape the violence.
The Houthis blame elements in the military they allege are aligned with Salafists from the Sunni Muslim Al-Islah Party for the fighting. But the Yemeni government says the Houthis—with whom it has been fighting on-and-off since 2004—are attempting to gain a stronghold in the country’s North as Yemen seeks to implement the roadmap set out by the National Dialogue Conference, a Gulf–US-backed initiative which will see the creation of six federal regions.
A number of the country’s political parties have now called on President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi to “take decisive measures against armed groups that are leading the country to a civil war—whether they are Houthis or others—who use arms and have political and sectarian differences with other parties.”
Meanwhile, Yemeni opposition figures outside the country speaking to Asharq Al-Awsat on the condition of anonymity said they expected the situation in the country to “deteriorate” in the next few days if no substantial moves were made by the government and no decisive action taken by parties to implement the results of the national dialogue, which wrapped up earlier this year.
A meeting is scheduled to be held in Sana’a between the Yemeni government and donors from both countries in a bid to expedite foreign aid to the country.
Speaking of the meeting, Yemeni Minister of Planning and International Cooperation Mohammad Al-Saadi said it was “part of the regular meetings that were agreed upon between the government and the donor states in order to evaluate the progress of the allocations pledged to Yemen by the donor states at the Riyadh conference on September 4, 2012, and at the fourth Friends of Yemen meeting in New York on September 27, 2012.”
Saadi added that the meeting would “look into what had been achieved in terms of implementing the obligations specified in the joint framework of responsibilities between the government and the donor states.”