Yemeni president brings Houthis into new government

Yemeni President Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi

Yemeni President Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi

Yemeni President Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi announced a new cabinet on Friday including members of the Houthi group that seized the capital Sanaa in September, Al Arabiya correspondent in Sanaa reported, in a move that could help calm tensions in the country.

The new technocrat government would be headed by Prime-Minister designate Khaled Mahfuz Behah.

The president appointed General Mahmoud al-Subaihi as the defense minister, and General Jalal al-Rweishan, who used to head to security apparatus, as the interior minister.

Mohammed Mansour remained the minister of finance.

The new cabinet will also have four female ministers including Nadia al-Saqqaf who was appointed as the minister of communications and information technology, Minister of Culture Arwa Othman, and Minister of Social Affairs and Labor Kaboul Muhammad Abdulmalik Mutawakkil.

The ministry of human rights was assigned to the rights activist Izz al-Deen Said al-Asbahi.

President Hadi also assigned Ghaleb Abdullah Mutlak as the head of a new ministry in charge of implementing agreements with opposition forces.

Under a power-sharing agreement signed last month, the Houthis are meant to withdraw their forces from the city once a new administration is formed. Tensions rose last week when they set an ultimatum for President Hadi to form a government within 10 days or face “other options.”

Stability in the country of 25 million people is important to the United States because it borders oil-producing Saudi Arabia and is home to one of the most active branches of al-Qaeda.

Once a religious movement seeking greater autonomy in the north, the Houthis have in recent months become Yemen’s power-brokers and sent their militiamen into the west and center of the country, far beyond their traditional redoubts.

They captured Sanaa on Sept. 21, following weeks of anti-government unrest.

“The announcement of the government is a step that can help in easing the political crisis. I think President Hadi did not announce this government formation without consultations with the Houthis,” said Yemeni political analyst Ali Saif Hassan.

 
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