Wednesday, October 15, 2014
Yemen: Houthis seize port of Hodeida, southern rebels raise demands
Houthi militants have seized the western port city of Hodeida where Yemen's key seaport and oil export terminal are based in a move that has raised fears about the fate of the transition process. Locals in Hodeida said on Tuesday Houthis have now seized almost all public facilities including the Hodeida port and the Ras Isa terminal for oil exports. There are also reports that the Houthis are seeking to control the Bab El-Mandab Strait between the Taiz and Hodeida governorates. "Houthi militants have spread in all areas and more of them are expected to arrive in the city in next days to form popular committees that will replace the provincial authorities," a citizen in Hodeida said by telephone.
Houthi militants seized on Monday a military base in the Bajil town, Hodeida, and have been looting ammunitions and weapons which were stored in it, according to military sources. "Today, Houthis continued to loot the base, taking around five trucks and ten pick-ups with many weapons and ammunitions onboard," a provincial military source said.
In the meantime, the Houthi Group is extending its influence in other governorates including the central city of Dhamar where locals told the Yemen Post that Houthis have erected more checkpoints and have almost started to replace the authorities.
Houthis seized the capital city of Sanaa in September, around a month after they took control of the adjacent governorate of Amran.
In ther meantime also Southern separatists seeking to split from Yemen's north set an ultimatum for the government to evacuate its soldiers and civil servants by Nov. 30 and asked all foreign firms producing oil and gas in the region to halt exports immediately. Southern Herak, the main group demanding the restoration of a South Yemen state that merged with North Yemen in 1990, made its demands in a statement after it staged mass rallies in the southern cities of Aden and Mukalla on Tuesday."The state of the south is coming and no power can stop us from achieving this," the statement said.
Southern Herak appears to have drawn encouragement from the Houthis' ability to dictate terms to president Hadi and to outmanoeuvre a military establishment weakened by divisions. Yemen shares a long border with the world's top oil exporter Saudi Arabia and flanks busy shipping lanes such as those in the strategic Bab El Mandeb strait west of Aden.