Rebels hold Yemen President captive

Advisers say President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi “cannot leave his house” after Houthi rebels removed his guards and deployed their own fighters.

January 21, 2015 07:02 pm | Updated November 16, 2021 05:20 pm IST - Sana’a

Two Yemeni presidential advisers say Shia rebels who are on a power grab campaign in the capital, Sana’a, are holding the President ‘captive’ at his home, a day after seizing the presidential palace.

The advisers say President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi “cannot leave his house” after Houthi rebels removed his guards and deployed their own fighters at the premises on Wednesday.

One of the advisers says the situation in Yemen has reached the “point of no return,” that the military is in shambles while the country’s security apparatus has been “crippled” after the Houthis’ blitz.

The two advisers spoke on condition of anonymity because they are not authorised to talk to media.

The rebels pressed ahead on Wednesday with their power grab in the capital, Sana’a, capturing a military base housing ballistic missiles that overlooks the city and posting guards outside the president’s home, a day after raiding the presidential palace.

The Houthi rebels, who are trying to carve a greater share of power for their group, also issued fresh demands Wednesday, asking for the post of vice president and several key government offices.

The developments further erode the standing of U.S.-backed President, who was unharmed during the shelling of his neighbourhood on Tuesday and remained inside his house.

Early Wednesday, the Houthis seized the country’s largest missile base on a hilltop above Sana’a, consolidating their grip over the city, which they seized in September after spreading out from their strongholds in the north.

Military officials said there was no resistance as the Houthis took the base, which houses the missiles, in western Sana’a. The rebels simply asked the commanders to hand over control of the base, said the officials, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorised to talk to media.

A lull settled over Sana’a after two days of fierce gunbattles between Mr. Hadi’s troops and the Houthis, during which the rebels swept into the presidential palace and looted its weapons depots, took over the TV building and the country’s official news agency, and besieged the house of Prime Minister Khaled Bahah.

The rebel leader, Abdel-Malek al-Houthi, described the dramatic escalation in an address to the nation broadcast late Tuesday as a “revolutionary” move aimed at forcing Mr. Hadi to implement a U.N.-brokered deal that effectively grants the Houthis a bigger share of power.

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