AL-MUKALLA: Marib will not surrender to Iran-backed Houthi militias, Yemen's president said on Monday.
Speaking to the nation on the eve of the 54th anniversary of Yemen’s independence, Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi said the Houthis, with the aid of Tehran, have mounted aggressive assaults on Marib city for months and rejected all international peace initiatives to end the war in Yemen.
“Yemen is facing a purely Iranian project that targets faith, religion and the homeland, and aims to strike … our Arab nation using … Houthi militias that have agreed to be a cheap tool to tear the nation apart,” Hadi said, stressing that government troops and local tribes would “bury” Houthi fighters in the deserts of Marib and not allow them to seize control of the strategic city.
“Marib, the gateway to the defense of the Arabian Peninsula, will not fall, and their project will fall in front of the solidity of our heroes, and its deserts will bury the dreams of their (Iranian) masters.”
The Yemeni leader has long accused the Iranian regime of supporting the Houthis with weapons and funds that fuel the militia’s expansion in the face of heavy attacks from the government forces and the Arab coalition.
The president blasted the Houthis for launching a parallel economic war that has led to the rapid devaluation of the Yemeni riyal and an aggravating economic meltdown.
“The militia launches a fierce economic attack to influence the national currency by all dirty methods, and (has created) a parallel economy that feeds on the people’s livelihoods, aids looting, smuggling and black market trade,” he said, referring to the Houthi ban on the use of new banknotes printed by the internationally-recognized government in Aden, and the rebels’ reluctance to deposit state revenues into the country’s central bank.
“We will continue our struggle until we restore the state, end the coup, and these militias submit to peace and national consensus.”
On Tuesday, the Yemeni riyal broke a record low, reaching 1600 riyals against a US dollar. The riyal traded at nearly 700 against the dollar in January.
Hadi’s pledges to face political, economic and military challenges came as the Arab coalition announced on Tuesday it was carrying out a new wave of airstrikes targeting military sites in Houthi-held Sanaa and other locations.
The coalition’s warplanes struck several military locations in Sanaa, including a site overrun by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, the coalition said in a statement carried by the Saudi News Agency.
In a separate statement, the coalition announced on Tuesday afternoon it carried out an airstrike on a military training camp for the Houthis in Mahliyah district, south of Marib, killing more than 60 combatants.
Local media sites such as Al-Sahil Al-Gharbi reported that a hospital in the Houthi-controlled Radaa city, Al-Bayda province, received the bodies of 34 dead Houthis killed in airstrikes in the same district, adding that other airstrikes destroyed military reinforcements heading to battlefields south of Marib.
Maj. Gen. Abdu Abdullah Majili, a Yemeni army spokesperson, told Arab News on Tuesday that Houthi missile and drone strikes on areas in Marib have been reduced since the beginning of the coalition’s intensive airstrikes against missile depots and drone workshops in Sanaa.
“The successful strikes destroyed ballistic missile and drone stores and workshops, and led to a reduction in the firing of ballistic missiles at populated areas,” Majili said.