Al Mukalla: Tension is building in the Yemeni capital as Iran-backed Al Houthi militants cracked down on several protests by public servants demanding months of unpaid salaries, residents said on Sunday.
Armed Al Houthi men in civilian clothes dispersed on Saturday a protest arranged by tens of military of interior personnel demanding Al Houthis immediately pay their outstanding salaries.
The rebel forces cracked down on the protesters using live bullets, rounding a number of them up.
Al Houthis are facing an acute cash crisis since September when the internationally-recognised government relocated the central bank headquarters to Aden, depriving them from a vital source of finance.
In a similar move against growing public discontent against their movement, Al Houthi supporters stormed a gathering of Sana’a university professors discussing escalating pressure on Al Houthis to pay their unpaid salaries.
Sana’a University Staff Union said in a statement that armed figures loyal to Al Houthis assaulted some attendants and verbally threatened them if they stepped up their protesting measures.
The Union said that one of the men armed with steel rod tried to stab Dr. Mohammad Al Dhaheri, a professor of political science at Sana’a university and the head of the union.
The group vowed to keep up pressure on the rebels through strikes, sit-ins and rallies until they pay their salaries in full and on time.
The government said it shifted the central bank to Aden after the rebel movement tapped monetary authority reserves to spend on their military effort.
Al Houthi leader, Abdul Malik Al Houthi, called on his supporters to deposit cash into accounts to enable the bank to function.
Entangled in a bloody conflict with the government forces backed by the Saudi-led Arab coalition, the rebels have failed to provide the cash needed to pay public servants on time.
The rebel forces, worried that protests will spiral out of control, decided to nip them in the bud by issuing clear threats to use excessive force against public servants who protest.
As usual, Al Houthis claim the protests are part of a plan by Saudi Arabia, to weaken Al Houthi grip on power.
In government-controlled provinces also, hundreds of protesters rallied in Aden, Zinjibar, Attaq and many other major cities in south Yemen demanding unpaid wages.
Protestors blocked roads and set fire to rubber tyres. The police did not intefere.
Meanwhile on the military front, government forces launched a new push to take control of Al Houthi-held territories in the northern province of Jawf, army commanders and allied tribesmen said on Sunday.
The assault began on Saturday and government forces seized control of several locations in Khab and Al Sha’af, Jawf’s largest district.