Political Analysis

Tribes and Political Parties Reject Houthi Coup

National Yemen

Houthi’s meeting at the presidential place on Friday ends by dissolving parliament and set up a “presidential council” to fill a power vacuum, sparking angry protests against what demonstrators and tribes called a “coup”.

The meeting said it would set up a 551-member national council to replace the parliament. A five-member presidential council will form a transitional government for two years, the Houthis announced in a “constitutional declaration” which also mentioned a “revolutionary council” to “defend the nation”.

As a result of that, tribes of Marib the homeland of Yemen oil and gas reject the Houthi coup in Sana’a. In Taiz, Yemen’s third-largest city, protest tents were pitched outside the local government building against what anti-Houthi demonstrators called “the coup d’etat”, residents said.

Protests also erupted in the city of Hodeida and in Aden, Yemen’s second city in the south where the governor, Abdel Aziz bin Habtur, called the Houthi declaration “a plot against the constitution”. Nobel Peace prize laureate Tawakkol Karman said the declaration was “null and void” and expected the people to rise against the Huthi “coup and liberate the capital which they occupy”.

The U.S. State Department has condemned the Houthi move to dissolve the parliament, spokeswoman Marie Harf said, but added that Washington will continue to work with Yemen’s counterterrorism forces.

The United Nations, meanwhile, said it is alarmed by what it described as a power vacuum in Yemen.

“This power vacuum is of great concern to us,” Stephane Dujarric told reporters. “The Secretary-General (Ban Ki-moon) and all of those who are concerned with Yemen here are following the situation very closely.”

He added that U.N. special envoy to Yemen Jamal Benomar was now returning to the Yemeni capital Sanaa because of the escalating crisis.

Manuel Almeida, a London-based expert on Yemen told Al Arabiya News: “It is also about time for Yemen’s Western backers, especially the U.S. and Britain, to recognize that Iran’s multifaceted support for the Houthis is far more than a conspiracy theory. Yemen has now become another Lebanon, another Iraq, where an armed militia seems to be more powerful than the army.

The country’s defense and interior ministers, along with head of security, attended the gathering held in the Republican Palace in Sanaa.  But Al Arabiya News Channel quoted sources in Sanaa as saying that Defense Minister Mahmoud Mahmoud al-Subaihi was forced by the Houthis to attend the gathering and that he actually rejects their move.