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Yemen: Millions in Counterfeit Currency Run by Coup Militias | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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A man walks on the rubble of a house destroyed during a recent conflict in the northwestern city of Saada, Yemen October 31, 2016. REUTERS/Naif Rahma

Aden – Coup militias in Yemen have staged multiple attempts for running and laundering millions of counterfeit Yemeni Riyals, as well as illegal arms, a military source said.

The trafficking largely was directed towards Sa’ada, where the Houthi insurgency leader Abdul-Malik Badreddin al-Houthi is based. It also comes a few days after government forces seized hundreds of millions of counterfeit cash in the Jawf province, northeast the country.

Jawf’s National Army and Popular Resistance Spokesman Abdullah al-Ashraf told Asharq Al-Awsat that anti-government militias try, on almost daily basis, to smuggle large sums of counterfeit money, illegal arms and drugs.

He said most of the smuggling routes go through Jawf’s desert region, passing through Al Mahrah Governorate, neighboring the Sultanate of Oman and end at the Sa’ada desert area, the main stronghold Houthis gunmen.

Pro-government tribesmen had seized large amounts of counterfeit banknotes stamped with the value of 5,000 riyals (a bill not circulated or approved by the Central Bank of Yemen) in barren areas near Al Hobil Arouq, located 70 kilometers north of Al-Khanjar in Jawf.

The spokesman pointed out that the seized notes amount to hundreds of millions of riyals.

Resorting to counterfeit currency indicates the severity of the economic collapse suffered, and reflects a stifling crisis that has proved the coup’s inability to provide realistic solutions to people’s problems living under their territory.

Trying to introduce a para-official new currency would lead to serious economic fallout, threatening the value of the national currency, political and youth activist Ayban Mohammed told Asharq Al-Awsat.

“Steps taken by coup leadership, whether it is welfare vouchers or the introduction of a new currency highlight the true disarray and a growing state of public discontent in coup-held areas.”

Already suffering grievously under nearly two years of civil war, many thousands of Yemeni state workers now face destitution as their salaries have gone largely unpaid for months.

It is unclear how many of the 250,000 employees registered nationwide before the Houthis seized Sana’a in 2014 have received incomplete salaries – as a large proportion in government-held areas have been paid.

In 2014, Iran-aligned Houthis allied with armed loyalists backing ousted president Ali Abdullah Saleh stormed the country’s capital, driving the internationally recognized government led by Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi out. Coup militias effectively hijacked Sana’a-based public institutions which pushed the constitutionally elected government to relocate to Aden.