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Yemen's Houthis reject proposed UN sanctions

Yemen's Shiite Houthis militia says does not care about 'outside' threat, in reference to possible UN sanctions against anti-democracy figures
A Yemeni Shiite man holds up a picture of Abdul-Malik al-Houthi during a demonstration on 20 August, 2014 (AFP)

A senior figure from Yemen’s powerful Shiite Houthis militia said on Tuesday that the group would reject "any decisions emanating from outside Yemen" following reports that the UN was preparing to impose sanctions on five prominent Yemenis including three Houthi leaders for allegedly seeking to derail the country's democratic process.

"If the UN sanctions committee decides to designate group leaders as 'figures responsible for undermining Yemen's democratic transition,' we won't care," Ali al-Qahoum told Anadolu Agency.

"We reject any decisions emanating from outside Yemen," he added. "We don't rely on anything from the outside world; we only depend on the Yemeni people."

Al-Jazeera reported that the UN was mulling sanctions on five key Yemeni figures, including former president Ali Abdullah Saleh and his son Ahmed Ali, Yemen’s ambassador to the United Arab Emirates.

The three remaining targeted individuals are all senior members of the Shiite militant group, including top leader Abdul-Malik al-Houthi.

The three remaining targeted individuals are the Houthis's 32-year-old leader Abdulmalik al-Houthi, his brother Abdulkhaleq al-Houthi and military leader Abu Ali al-Hakem.

The Houthis have remained in control of the capital Sanaa since September 21, when they inked a deal with Yemen's presidency aimed at ending a weeks-long political standoff.  

Since then, the Houthis have attempted to extend their influence beyond the capital to other parts of the country.

Some Arab capitals have accused Shiite Iran of supporting Yemen's ongoing Houthi insurgency.

Saleh, whose 33-year reign ended in 2012 after a popular uprising, has been accused of backing the Houthis, a group he fought for years when in office, to re-establish his influence over the country’s politics.

His son Ahmed Ali, dismissed as head of the Republican Guard by president Hadi in 2012, is Yemen's ambassador to the United Arab Emirates who Yemeni officials have also accused of backing the Houthis in an effort to weaken Yemen's Muslim Brotherhood, al-Islah.

Analysts say that imposing sanctions on Ahmed Saleh, would be difficult given his diplomatic immunity.

Some Yemenis said they were pleased at the prospect of Saleh facing justice while others fear the sanctions may prevent the country moving forward.

"Sanctions should have been imposed on Saleh after he stepped down. Now I fear the sanctions will only destablise things more," Ahmed al-Malsi, an accounting student at Sanaa University, told Middle East Eye.

Al-Malsi pointed out that many other figures in Yemen are implicated in allegations of corruption and stand accused of disrupting the transition.

"It is right to point the finger at these five, but there are hundreds more who have stolen and sabotaged the transition, they should be punished too," he said.

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