The Yemeni government dismissed news that the Marib and other governorates had conducted talks with the rebel Houthi militia in the capital Sanaa this week, the Yemeni website Ababil reporting Moammar Al-Aryani, the minister of information, as saying that “we deny the lies promoted by the Houthi media about talks with Iran’s mercenaries, the Houthi militia, to celebrate unreal victories and create rifts between the nation’s elements.”
“Since its coup against the state, the Houthi militia has killed and displaced hundreds of thousands of Yemenis, and thousands are still in its custody. The blood of the righteous martyrs who have given their lives to restore the state and the pride and dignity of the Yemenis cannot be betrayed,” he added.
However, Yemeni commentators insisted that secret meetings had been held between the leadership of the governorates of Marib and Al-Jawf and the Houthis in a bid to halt their advance towards them.
Ababil also reported that the Houthis had suffered heavy losses in Naham and Al-Jawf, and that Arab Coalition forces had regained key sites by taking control of Aqib in the Yam Mountains. Coalition forces launched attacks against a number of important sites in Naham north of Marib a day after the Houthi militia took control of them.
The Yemeni Marib Press also published a UN report on Sunday about money leader of the Houthis Abdel-Malek Al-Houthi was investing in Iranian banks.
The report of a UN Security Council expert team said Al-Houthi had invested more than $30 billion in Iranian banks, transferred in batches since 2015 through the port of Hodeidah.
The port and its facilities have been used for smuggling foreign currencies during the past two years via Iranian ships anchored in international waters. The UN report added that at a time when the salaries of hundreds of thousands of employees in Houthi-controlled regions had been seized and the majority were enduring miserable conditions, the Houthis had invested billions of dollars in Iran.
UN Envoy to Yemen Martin Griffiths arrived in Sanaa on Sunday on his second visit in 10 days to inaugurate an air bridge to Sanaa Airport to transport patients out of the capital, according to a Yemeni source. The bridge, dubbed “Flights of Mercy”, was co-created by the Arab Coalition and the World Health Organisation (WHO). On its first journey, 30 patients were flown to Cairo or Amman for treatment.
The Yemeni Ministry of Health in Sanaa said there were 32,000 patients on the waiting list in need of travel abroad to receive treatment. The ministry called on friendly countries and humanitarian organisations to intervene to save thousands of Yemeni lives by offering treatment abroad.
The Yemeni people’s sufferings have been exacerbated after oil shortages threatened to stop power-generation stations in the temporary capital Aden. Mohamed Al-Sabhi, a spokesperson of the Ministry of Electricity, said on Facebook that “five stations may stop operating due to a lack of oil, particularly diesel.”
He added that Aden was having difficulty providing services to its people after the lack of diesel resulted in power cuts every two hours.
Many Yemenis no longer receive their salaries and suffer as a result of clashes between the Houthis and the internationally recognised government.
However, one bright spot has been the announcement that new green areas will be established in Marib at a cost of $4.6 million.
The Marib Press reported on Sunday that the Cleaning and Improvement Fund in Marib had set up the projects as part of a new urban plan that will include entertainment and sports areas.
Meanwhile, students at the Higher Institute of the Judiciary organised a third protest in front of the Judicial Council in Khor Maksar on Sunday to demand the payment of their grants months after the academic year started.
The Aden newspaper Al-Ghad reported that the students had demanded that the Supreme Judicial Council work out a solution, threatening to escalate the issue in the following days if one was not found.
*A version of this article appears in print in the 6 February, 2020 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly.