Sana’a, Asharq Al-Awsat—In the latest development in the escalating dispute between the Yemeni government and the Houthi movement occupying sites across Sana’a, Yemeni President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi responded to the movement’s demands with some of his own on Tuesday.
In response to a list of demands submitted by the movement in a letter earlier this week, Hadi called on the Houthis to dismantle their protest camps across the city, including those at the entrances to Sana’a and the road to the airport, and resume talks with mediators.
Hadi also called on the group to turn over control of the northern governorate of Amran to the government, and withdraw its fighters from the region.
In their letter to Hadi, the Houthis issued seven demands including the restoration of fuel subsidies, the resignation of the current government, new measures to tackle corruption, and reform of the economy, media, and the political system, and said the protests would continue until all their demands were met.
In his response, Hadi claimed that the Houthis’ protests were raising tensions in Yemen, and hindering the reform process approved by last year’s National Dialogue Conference. He also said that the tensions stirred by the protests would have to be reduced before the political and economic changes demanded by the Houthis could be met.
The committee which was mediating to resolve the crisis announced the failure of its efforts on Sunday, raising fears of violence in the Yemeni capital. Despite the breakdown of mediation efforts, Houthi leader Abdul Malik Al-Houthi reportedly sought to continue direct contacts with President Hadi to reach a bilateral agreement, which Hadi rejected, leading to the exchange of letters.
Houthis continued to gather in Sana’a on Tuesday. In response, the authorities strengthened security measures, deploying extra troops, police and armored vehicles around key sites in the capital, including the Interior Ministry.
In other developments, a security source said a Yemeni army officer was killed by unidentified armed men in Dhamar governorate, 60 miles (100 kilometers) south of Sana’a.
The source, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Col. Fa’iz Al-Ba’ithi, the chief Ministry of Defense spokesman in the governorate, was killed in front of his home in the center of Dhamar city. The assailants escaped on a motorcycle.
The source added that unidentified attackers also attempted to murder the mayor of Dhamar on Monday. Dhamar is less than 20 miles (almost 30 kilometers) away from the town of Rada’, one of the strongholds of Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) in the Al-Bayda governorate.
AQAP has killed dozens of police and army officers in the last few years in a number of areas in Yemen, raising suspicions that the organization was responsible for the attacks.