An Arabic-language newspaper in London reported Thursday that pro-Iranian militias in Yemen have tightened their grip on the country – to the extent that they have taken over the country’s national bank. As a result, Gulf states have withdrawn their support for Yemen, leaving the road open for a full takeover by Iranian-backed groups.
According to A-Sharq al-Awsat, the Houthi rebel groups took over a number of government offices this week, including the country’s civil aviation authority, and the Bank of Yemen. Speaking to the newspaper on condition of anonymity, a Yemen government official said that a negotiated settlement to curb violence under UN auspices signed earlier this year “has practically been annulled due to the practices of the Houthis who are seeking to take complete control of the Yemeni state.”
In addition to the takeovers, Houthis kidnapped several top officials, including Maj. Gen. Yehia Al-Marani, undersecretary of Yemen’s central security agency.
The Houthis are a Shi’ite Islamist group that has claimed that Shi’ites in Yemen are mistreated. The official told A-Sharq al-Awsat that Sunni Yemeni groups were becoming “very upset” at the continued coup the Houthis are apparently conducting. Islamist groups, including one backed by Al-Qaeda, are likely to take action in the near future – dragging the country even deeper into civil war.
Gulf states, led by Saudi Arabia, have apparently given up on Yemen, effectively admitting that it will eventually fall to Iran’s domination, the newspaper said. The states have cut off assistance to Yemen, and are withdrawing personnel, the report added.