Houthi rebels terrorise Jawf homes, loot hospitals
LONDON - The United Nations called for restraint and the protection of civilians as the spike in fighting in Yemen’s Marib, Jawf and Sana’a governorates continued.
Clashes broke out March 1 in the Jawf city of Al Hazm, leading to a massive displacement of civilians. Heavy fighting, including artillery shelling, was reported on the outskirts of Al Hazm. Agence France-Presse reported that more than 2,000 families had been displaced.
Most of Jawf was previously under Houthi control; however, the fall of Al Hazm is a logistics nightmare for Saudi Arabia because it is only 150km south of the Saudi border.
With the fall of Jawf, the Houthis’ brutality has also been on display. A statement by nine civil society organisations in Marib and Jawf said the militia raided and ransacked more than 48 homes in Al Hazm.
The statement claimed the Houthis banned 29,500 children from attending schools or the local College of Education and Human Sciences. The militia also allegedly looted Al-Hazm Hospital. The groups called on the United Nations and humanitarian organisations to speed deliveries of emergency provisions.
Aden, the temporary capital of Yemen’s internationally recognised government, has been beset by violence, including targeted killings. Local media reported that a Yemeni soldier had been assassinated March 2 in Aden.
The victim’s father was a prominent military commander and had been assassinated in similar circumstances in 2012.
Aden has become the focal point of a power struggle between the government and the UAE-backed separatist Southern Transitional Council (STC), which seized control of the city last year amid deadly clashes.
A military source told Al-Masdar News that STC fighters prevented Saudi forces from reaching the Oil Harbour in Aden, where they had been heading to begin negotiations with other STC personnel who had prevented a ship from offloading fuel days earlier.
For decades, many southern Yemenis have said they felt exploited by leaders in the north, including former President Ali Abdullah Saleh and his associates. Anti-Saleh sentiment led to the formation of the Southern Mobility Movement in 2007, which has the re-establishment of South Yemen as an independent state as its main goal.
STC President Aidarus al-Zoubaidi and Yemeni President Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi have a history of bad blood between them, stemming from May 2017 when Hadi sacked Zoubaidi as Aden governor. Zoubaidi then joined the southern separatists, which eventually rebranded itself as the STC movement.
The STC has been a challenge to Hadi’s authority in southern Yemen. In August, separatists seized control of Aden and battled government forces in other southern provinces, which prompted Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates to step in to calm tensions. However, tensions between the two sides have continued.
Iran-backed Houthis took control of Sana’a in September 2014, forcing Hadi to flee the country. In March 2015, a Saudi-led military coalition fighting in support of the Hadi government began a military campaign against the Houthis. The fighting triggered what the United Nations described as the world’s worst humanitarian crisis, with millions displaced and in need of aid.