AL-MUKALLA: A Yemeni court in the central province of Marib has sentenced five Houthis to death for undermining security in government-controlled areas.
The military court from the Marib-based 3rd Military Region on Sunday ruled that the operatives — who were part of a Houthi cell uncovered last year — had plotted to assassinate military and security officers, planted improvised explosive devices (IEDs), blown up military equipment, and trained armed gangs in government-controlled areas, state news agency SABA reported.
State media identified only one of the five convicted operatives, Taher Ali Al-Marhabi. A sixth member of the cell was acquitted of the charges.
Local Yemeni officers have long blamed Houthi sleeper cells in liberated areas for a string of assassinations and explosions and for sending information on the locations and movements of military commanders to their seniors in Sanaa and Saada.
The same military court ordered the military prosecution in Marib to question 180 senior members of the Iran-backed Houthi movement, including Abdul Malik Al-Houthi and his brothers, who were previously charged with forming an armed group that overthrew the government, colluded with other countries, and killed people.
In July, a court in Marib held the initial session of the trial of Houthi leaders accused of masterminding the coup against the internationally recognized government of President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi in 2015 and the subsequent military campaign.
In Sanaa, a court operated by the Houthis, ordered on Sunday confiscating properties and freezing the bank accounts of 75 military and security officers for backing the internationally recognized government of Yemen and the Arab coalition military operations in Yemen. Among the convicted officers were commanders of military regions and army troops battling Houthis in Marib and Jouf, and senior officers at the Ministry of Interior.
Over recent years, the Houthis have sentenced Yemen’s president, his deputy, the prime minister, and hundreds of military and civilian officials to death and stormed their properties in Sanaa and other areas under their control in northern Yemen.
Yemeni analysts believe the Houthis are blackmailing those officials into joining their movement. Other experts think the cash-strapped Houthis might sell confiscated properties to fund their military activities across Yemen.
A pro-government officer who was recently convicted by a Houthi court told Arab News on Monday that a private bank based in Sanaa froze his bank account, and he advised Yemeni activists who openly criticized the Houthis not to open accounts with banks based in Houthi-controlled areas.
“I do not have any property in Sanaa. The bank told me my account was frozen by the bank’s HQ in Sanaa,” said the officer, who lives in a liberated city in southern Yemen, and wished to remain anonymous.
“This is a war. The Houthis get even with those officers who support the legitimate government by targeting their properties,” he added.
Meanwhile, fierce fighting between government forces and Houthis broke out on Sunday and Monday as the army announced it had killed, wounded, and captured dozens of rebel fighters in Jouf and Marib.
The heaviest fighting was reported in the northern province of Jouf where government forces announced liberating a chain of mountains after killing more than 20 Houthis and capturing 37 others.
State media showed images of burnt military vehicles abandoned by the fleeing Houthis and government pickups carrying almost two dozen captured Houthi fighters.
Maj. Gen. Ameen Al-Waili, the acting commander of the 6th Military Region, told state media that army troops and allied tribesmen, backed by air cover from Arab coalition warplanes, had inflicted heavy blows to the Houthis on battlefields in Jouf by killing and capturing dozens of their fighters.
He said that his troops had liberated a large swathe of land east of Hazen, the capital of Jouf, as warplanes destroyed 10 Houthi military vehicles.
Military commanders added that current military operations outside Hazem were aimed at cutting off Houthi supply lines and wearing down the group’s manpower before storming the city.