Protests across Sanaa call for Houthi departure
Hundreds of Yemenis took to the streets of Sanaa on Saturday calling for the withdrawal of Shiite Houthi militants from the capital.
Protesters gathered outside the eastern gate of Sanaa University and toured several streets before reaching the Sanaa Municipality building, an Anadolu Agency correspondent reported.
They called for Houthis to leave the city and demanded Sanaa Mayor Abdul-Qader Hilal take back the sixth military district HQ and turn it into a public park.
Over the past weeks, Sanaa saw a number of similar protests calling for the departure of Houthis from the capital and other cities, denouncing "violence and terrorism" that have plagued the country.
In a similar fashion last week, protesters called on Houthi militants to withdraw from the headquarters of the first military zone in Sanaa, a former army units commanded by Ali Mohsen Al Ahmer - a powerful army general who led the six sporadic wars against the Houthis from 2004 to 2010 and also provided protection to ant-regime protests in 2011.
Yemeni observers say there has been a rise in civilian resistance to Houthi presence across Yemen’s provinces.
“At first the civilians were waiting see what will happen. They didn’t want to be considered part of any of militant or opposition groups,” said Saeed Batati, MEE contributor from Yemen.
“But now they becoming less patient with the Houthis and are starting to resist their presence. The people are angry.”
“Houthis have been kidnapping and torturing activists protesting against them and even raiding women’s houses, something that is unacceptable in Yemen’s tribal culture,” explained Batati.
Earlier this month, senior Houthi member Ali al-Ammad told AA that his group will hand over the HQ of the Sixth Military District to Mayor Hilal, giving no further details. So far this promise has not been fulfilled.
On Friday, thousands of civilians protested in Taiz province, south of the Yemeni capital Sanaa, against the presence of Houthi rebels or any other armed militias, reported the Qatar News Agency.
During a protest dubbed ‘Civil Cohesion’ launched by youth activists in Taiz, demonstrators shouted slogans rejecting Houthi presence in the province’s government institutions.
The demonstrators also called on Yemeni military and security forces to resist any attempts by the Houthi militants to take over the province.
The protests came after Houthi leaders called on their supporters to mobilise towards Taiz and put pressure on local authorities to there to form popular committees similar to those in capital Sanaa and a number of other provinces under Houthi control.
Since they took control of capital Sana'a in late September, the Houthis have sought to expand their influence to other parts of the country, seizing control of key government and military institutes.
The Houthis' growing strength in fractious Yemen has raised fears of sectarian conflict in the poor Arab nation, which has remained in turmoil since a 2011 popular uprising ended the decades-long rule of president Ali Abdullah Saleh one year later.