Dubai: A ‘hunger revolution’ is expected to erupt in Sana’a as a result of the country’s economic decline, analysts say.
The Yemeni riyal, which is reportedly nearing 300 Riyals to the dollar, is lower than it has ever been. Consequently, a reported 80 per cent of Sana’a’s population is in dire need of humanitarian aid.
An official of the Commercial Bank of Yemen said the unprecedented collapse of the local currency, which was equivalent to 215 riyals to the dollar when Al Houthis seized power early last February, was unprecedented.
“Never has the Yemeni riyal experienced such depreciation,” he said, “not during the uprising of 2011, not even during the civil war that erupted in 1994.”
The official, who Al Ittihad newspaper said insisted on anonymity, warned of the consequences of the collapse of the riyal.
He said the unprecedented depreciation will likely spark a massive uprising against the Al Houthi group.
“The collapse of the riyal will double the prices of already high basic foodstuff,” he said, “this will push the population to go out to the street to topple Al Houthis.” The official added that Yemenis are also suffering because of power outages and lack of oil derivatives. “The patience will run out as they are deprived of bread.”
A military source told Al Ittihad that the Al Houthis are threatening to withhold their soldiers’ salaries if they refuse to go to the battlefront. He said the Al Houthis are also accused of forcing civilians, especially young people, to engage in combat against the Saudi-led coalition in Taiz, Bayda’a and Marib.
Meanwhile, Al Houthis arrested dozens of bankers in Sana’a to force them to sell the dollar at the official rate of 215 riyals amid attempts to smuggle funds of Al Houthi leaders in fear of the an imminent battle in Sana’a. Bankers closed their shops in protest against the actions taken by Al Houthis as a result of the collapse of the riyal.
Al Bayan newspaper reported that the rebels are selling oil-derivatives at a price of 10,000 riyals for 20 litres, while the official price for the quantity is 3,500 riyals. The rebels are reportedly selling domestic-gas tanks for 8,000 riyals while the official price is no more than 1,500 riyals.
Dozens of women stood in protest in front of the prosecutor’s office in Sana’a on Tuesday. Al Ittihad reported that they rallied to denounce unwarranted arrests and the disappearances of dozens of hostages, including 14 journalists. Banners were raised demanding the immediate release of the detainees. The protesters called on local and international human rights organizations to work to free the detainees. They also insisted that the Yemeni government include this issue in future negotiations with the rebels, which were announced by United Nations envoy to Yemen Esmail Ould Shaikh Ahmad.
Simultaneously, Al Houthi militants and forces loyal to the deposed Yemeni president Ali Abdullah Saleh have reportedly sunk into a dire economic and military state, as hundreds of soldiers loyal to Saleh began protesting against delays in the payment of their salaries in Al Hodeidah on Monday.
On the ground, the coalition forces foiled an attempt by the Al Houthis to smuggle weapons across the sea into Yemen. The smuggling attempt, Al Ittihad reported, was through boats near Hodeidah. The boats were completely destroyed.