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After 8 years of controlling it, Sanaa is a closed city to the Houthis

Ahmed Naji stands astonished in front of a mural bearing the image of the late Houthi leader Saleh al-Samad, in the center of the capital, Sana’a. The two Quranic verses that God singled out for our master Muhammad, may God bless him and grant him peace, were written next to it, “and we raised your remembrance for you,” and “and you are of great character.”

The man who came with his family to the city in the 1970s was dominated by one explanation, which is that Sanaa, which has been under the control of the Ansar Allah group (Houthis) since September 21, 2014, has been reconfigured to fit only the Houthis.

At night, the green glow of Al-Saleh Mosque catches the eye. The mosque named after former President Ali Abdullah Saleh, who was killed by his Houthi allies five years ago, is the luminous landmark in the dark city.

In a vegetable store in the Al-Hasaba neighborhood, Fouad is waiting for some of his customers to arrive in luxury cars, keen to please them because they are rich customers who do not bargain with him in price. He tells Al Jazeera Net, “I find them profitable, but the others cannot buy a kilo of potatoes.”

rich and poor

While the upper rooms of old Sana’a houses and hotels (termanas) have been transformed into luxurious rest areas where khat (a stimulant plant that Yemenis use in the evening hours) and argileh for exorbitant rent, the number of beggars in the streets increases in search of a living.

The city witnessed a huge boom in real estate prices, and due to the difficulty of finding new land, attention turned to buy old houses at high prices, and their new owners – most of them Houthi leaders and loyalists – to demolish them and build others according to a high-cost architectural style.

In the two Maqaleh Streets alone, south of the city, the number of large malls, galleries and modern cafes increases as a profitable investment; This made Abdul Malik, an architect, argue that there is no poverty, but his opinion soon changes when he leaves these places.

About 19 million people out of about 30 million Yemenis suffer from acute food insecurity, including 538,000 children suffering from acute malnutrition, according to the latest statement by Martin Griffiths, the United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs.

The United Nations agencies prevented an imminent famine, but the Houthis imposed threats and complicated conditions for their work, and supposed aid to the needy was turned into one of their sources of funding. To this day, the Houthis have kidnapped a number of UN employees.

war and weapon

The ruins of destroyed buildings bear witness to 8 years of war, and in the Tahrir neighborhood, the Republican Palace appears dissident after the raids of the Saudi-led coalition, as the Houthis keep the rubble as evidence of the continuation of their war and pressure on the coalition countries for reconstruction.

The devastation is more evident in the presidential compound, the military camps and facilities, the airport, and Al-Daylami Air Base, in addition to some houses.

The Houthi gunmen are imposing their presence forcefully, and roaming around with weapons, wearing dark-coloured folk costumes, jabiya, and straight hair has become a familiar appearance for young people, and you rarely find a young man in modern clothes.

Amr Ismail, a young man at Sana’a University, told Al Jazeera Net that the appearance of the Houthi armed has become a pattern among young people, in an attempt to show strength and imitate the stronger party.

Class preference has also returned more among the people, as the Hashemites – who are allegedly involved with the leader of the Houthis in line with the Prophet Muhammad – are highly regarded, with whom they obtained all the privileges, turning their lives into extreme wealth.

absolute rule

The late President Ali Abdullah Saleh allied himself with the Houthis to control Sanaa, but the alliance broke open at the end of 2017 with the killing of the first at the hands of his allies, and since then the group has consolidated its influence over about 70% of the country.

The fate of Saleh loyalists ended in marginal and illusory positions, while the group’s men rose from the family of Abdul-Malik al-Houthi to high positions, and the group applied to power completely through the supervisors system.

A source in the Congress Party told Al Jazeera Net, on condition of anonymity, that the group excluded all its partners and built a structure rooted in state institutions for it. “We are no longer allowed to speak in the name of the state or express our opinions,” he added.

The head of the Bab al-Mandab Center for Studies (Yemeni non-governmental) Nabil al-Bukiri told Al Jazeera Net that the Houthis will never accept a partnership with any party; Because their ruling sectarian bases consider them to be the owners of a divine right, and their control over Sanaa was for them a divine dignity.

He added, “What is happening in Sana’a of demographic change and the control of citizens’ property by force, carrots, intimidation and restrictions on those who do not belong to them or their sect are all policies aimed at sectarianizing Sana’a and turning it into a city closed to the group.”

But the head of the Houthi news agency, “Saba”, Nasr al-Din Amer, tells Al-Jazeera Net that his group is not monopolized by power and has partners in a government that enjoys internal political stability, in addition to the House of Representatives and the Shura Council representing all political parties.

He added, “The glorious September 21 revolution was and still is a people’s revolution and it did not exclude anyone. Rather, its opponents excluded themselves by fighting it. The evidence is that after the victory of the revolution, Ansar Allah signed the Peace and Partnership Agreement, but some parties were dependent on the external desire.”

cultural courses

Eight years ago, the middle class found itself completely crushed after the Houthi authorities stopped paying the salaries of administrative sector employees in September 2016, and nearly one million employees found themselves and their families without a source of income.

The Houthi group holds the Yemeni government responsible for stopping the payment of salaries, while the government says that the group earns billions of riyals from tax and customs revenues and spends it on enriching its leaders and financing the war.

The group imposed on employees to return to work in return for payment of half a salary every 6 months, provided that they engage in cultural courses.

Ahmed Saeed, a school principal, said that he was forced to enroll in a cultural course last year, after he was forced to turn off his phone, and was taken with others to an unknown location. For three weeks, they listened to the Houthi leader’s speeches and were subjected to an intense program of sectarian and sectarian teachings.

He adds, “They told us that we are facing a conspiracy from America and Israel, and that jihad must exist, and so on.”

The Houthis changed the curriculum, teaching students that Houthi leaders and their gunmen are heroes and mujahideen.

truce threatened

The ongoing truce last April gave Yemenis a moment to breathe due to the deteriorating conditions, as it allowed regular flights from Sanaa airport to the Jordanian capital, Amman, and the flow of fuel through the port of Hodeidah, alleviating one of the most important problems haunting the population.

The Yemenis demand the continuation of the truce and its transformation into an agreement that comprehensively and permanently stops the war, and forces the Houthis to reopen roads to the besieged city of Taiz and other governorates.

The head of the “Saba” agency, Nasr Al-Din Amer, told Al-Jazeera Net that the Sana’a government (the Houthis) is still studying the situation to extend the truce.

However, the Houthis continue to mobilize armed in the governorates of Taiz and Marib, and recently they have marched military convoys to the lines of clashes, while huge military parades continue to graduate hundreds of young militants, in reference to the military escalation.

Source: Aljazeera

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