Yemen’s Shiite rebels announce takeover of government
News Agencies/Ynetnews /Published: 02.06.15/Israel News
Houthi rebels finalize lengthy power grab by dissolving parliament and forming presidential council, raising potential for sectarian conflict and for bolstering local al-Qaeda offshoot.
Yemen’s powerful Shiite rebels announced on Friday that they have taken over the country and dissolved parliament, a dramatic move that finalizes their months-long power grab.
In a televised announcement from the Republican Palace in the Yemeni capital of Sanaa, the Houthi rebels said they are forming a five-member presidential council that will replace President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi for an interim two-year period.
The Houthis also said that “Revolutionary Committee” would be in charge of forming a new parliament with 551 members. The committee is the security and intelligence arm of the rebel group, led by Mohammed Ali al-Houthi, relative to the Houthis’ leader, Abdel-Malek al-Houthi.
Some political leaders attended the announcement, which took place at the Presidential Palace. Former interior and defense ministers were also there, indicating that the announcement has the blessing of some other political factions. The statement in Sanaa, read by an unidentified announcer, claimed that it marked “a new era that will take Yemen to safe shores.” It came after political parties failed to meet a Houthi-imposed deadline on Wednesday to agree on an acceptable way forward.
The development also plunges the impoverished country deeper into turmoil and threatens to turn the crisis into a full-blown sectarian conflict, pitting the Iran-backed Houthi Shiites against Sunni tribesmen and secessionists in the south.
It could also play into the hands of Yemen’s al-Qaeda branch, the world’s most dangerous offshoot of the terror group, and jeopardize the US counter-terrorism operations in the country.
The Shi’ite Muslim movement, which is backed by Iran, had set a Wednesday deadline for political factions to agree a way out of the crisis, otherwise, the group said, it would impose its own solution.
Yemen has been in political limbo since President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi and the government of Prime Minister Khaled Bahah resigned after the Houthis seized the presidential palace and confined the head of state to his residence in a struggle to tighten control.
Yemen’s stability is particularly important to neighboring Saudi Arabia, the world’s top oil exporter. The Arabian Peninsula country is also fighting one of the most formidable branches of al Qaeda with the help of US drone strikes. The announcement did not give a timetable for elections and gave no indication on the fate of Hadi.