Senior Yemeni leaders abducted by Houthi militias

Followers of the Houthi movement raise their rifles as they shout slogans against the Saudi-led air strikes in Sanaa.

Followers of the Houthi movement raise their rifles as they shout slogans against the Saudi-led air strikes in Sanaa.


Yemeni Houthi militias, making an aggressive bid for power in the impoverished Gulf state, arrested more than a hundred members from a rival Islamist Sunni political party, including two leaders, the party said in a statement Sunday.

The Islah party, the Muslim Brotherhood’s branch in Yemen and a traditional power player in Yemen, had declared its support for the Saudi-led coalition bombing campaign against the rebels and their allies. The Houthis have been joined by security forces loyal to deposed leader Ali Abdullah Saleh – whose loyalists control elite forces and large combat units in Yemen’s military.

The Saudi-led campaign in its 11th day aims to thwart the advances of the rebels, who took over the capital Sanaa in September and eventually forced President Abdrabbu Mansour Hadi to flee to Aden, Yemen‘s second largest city in the south, after putting him under house arrest. The combined force of Houthis and Saleh loyalists is seeking to tighten their hold on this nation of 25 million on Saudi Arabia’s southern border.

The overnight arrest campaign rounded up leading members of the Islah party, Mohammed Qahtan and Hassan al-Yaeri, along with more than 120 others, the group said in a statement on its website.

Targeted

Coalition officials accuse the Houthis of hiding among civilians. Saudi military spokesman Ahmed Asiri said during Sunday’s briefing that jets targeted weapons and convoy supplies of Houthi militias heading toward Aden in the last 24 hours.

Meanwhile, fierce fighting in Aden continued between the Houthis and allied forces and popular committees loyal to Hadi. The rebels are making a push on the neighborhood in Aden that houses the presidential palace and the local television station.

Critics of the Houthis allege that the rebels are proxies for regional Shiite powerhouse Iran. Tehran has supplied the rebels with some logistical aid and supplies, but strongly denies any military support.

Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, considered among the most active and dangerous branch of global militant organization, has benefited from Yemen’s political crisis. On Thursday, al-Qaeda militants overran Mukalla, a major port city in southern Yemen and the provincial capital of the country’s largest province, Hadramawt, seizing government buildings and freeing inmates from a prison, including a top militant leader.

The militants consolidated their hold on the city on Friday, capturing its port and a major army base, facing little resistance from the soldiers who fled.


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