Voices from Yemen: 'We are on the verge of war'

Al Jazeera asked Yemeni citizens for their thoughts on what the future holds after the Houthis' coup.

    Voices from Yemen: 'We are on the verge of war'
    'It's the best thing to ever happen to this country. They got rid of the corrupt ones,' Abdul Jalil says [Reuters]

    Sanaa - The day after Houthi rebels announced a new unilateral transition plan for Yemen, citizens in Sanaa cautiously went about their business, opening their shops, keeping coffee dates with friends and digesting news of the nation's latest political upheaval.

    On Friday, the Houthis, who galvanised their ranks with promises of an anti-corruption agenda in Yemen, announced the creation of a 551-person transitional council to replace Yemen's parliament under the direction of the Houthi-run Revolutionary Committee. 

    The transitional council, whose mandate or mechanism of operation has not been announced, will elect a five-person presidential council to fill the nation's power vacuum created by the resignation of interim President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi and Prime Minister Khaled Bahah and his cabinet at the end of January.

    As the nation's newest power brokers, the Houthis, who had been participating in UN-backed peace talks, now face the challenge of preventing the nation from economic collapse and preserving an increasingly fractured unity. Their political opponents, who described their move as politically immature and an open invitation for parts of the country like the south to secede, have not yet announced their stance on the Houthis' constitutional declaration.

    The international community has condemned the Houthis' power play. The Gulf Cooperation Council called the move a "coup" and an "unacceptable escalation", while UN Special Adviser to Yemen, Jamal Benomar, stated on Saturday that he "deeply regrets the unilateral statement". He called on Yemen's political parties to continue with peace talks and work towards consensus.

    However, for much of Yemen's populace, the Houthis' final assertion of their legitimacy seems to be a done deal that has polarised the public. Some welcome the Houthis as liberators from an outdated system of governance, and others view them as kingmakers serving their own self-interests at the expense of the larger population.

    Ahmed Abdualla, 30, accountant, Sanaa
    Ahmed Abdualla [Al Jazeera]

    They [the Houthis] have taken us back in time. They took action without the opinion of the political parties. At least the parliament was based on law and order.

    There is going to be conflict. Everything is in chaos right now.

    Abdul Jalil, 32, unemployed, Sanaa
    Abdul Jalil [Al Jazeera]

    It's the best thing to ever happen to this country. They got rid of the corrupt ones, starting with Ali Mohsen [a former commander in Yemen's armed forces and military adviser to Hadi].

    This is the people's revolution. The Houthis consulted with the other political parties. The government's money will no longer go to thieves; it will go to the people.

    They [the Houthis] will unite this country. Today, ask anyone on the street; they don't feel anything is different. We will stand against America and other international interests that have caused destruction here.

    Yasmin al-Quaraihi, 26, interior designer, Sanaa
    Yasmin al-Quaraihi [Al Jazeera]

    What the Houthis did was completely illegal, but the government is guilty in this as well. The government is corrupt. Nobody was working for the country, just their own self-interests. Even though they were corrupt, I would have preferred the government to stay in power.

    We have moved past the point of fear; at least we know they are ruling us now. We [the youth] are close to surrendering to their rule. A few days ago, the youth were protesting against their militias, but they were kidnapped, so now people are afraid to go out. 

    Even though the Houthis will negatively impact this, the people have to create their own future now. We will have to focus on that regardless of what is going on. I don't believe in the government or the Houthis; they don't have our interests in mind.

    Mansour Ahmed Hassan, 55, restaurant owner, Reyma
    Mansour Ahmed Hassan [Al Jazeera]

    It is just a counterrevolution. It's the same as in Egypt. They were fighting for the chair [president's seat]. But the Houthis got it. Last night was the finale.

    In Yemen, you can see people fighting in the morning and then there are fireworks at night. It's the nature of the Yemeni people. It's too early to tell if any good will come of this.

    We need a year to evaluate. We need [international] support, otherwise we will gradually backslide to nothing. Businesses related to foreigners, like tourism and gas, are really hurting but people still come to my restaurant.

    The best you can do is ignore what's going on around you. There was fighting here [in-mid January], but people kept coming to the restaurant.

    Faozia Farooq, 22, medical student, Taiz
    Faozia Farooq [Al Jazeera]

    We were all shocked. I was especially shocked. But what are we to do? The Houthis are the ones setting the policy. What should we do? They forced us into this position. We are extremely concerned about the country's welfare.

    They [the Houthis] will take over the economy, education and current policies and destroy them. You can do whatever you want if you have a gun. May God help us. How are they going to provide [services like] gas, electricity and petroleum? 

    It's all a game and it's going to continue. We are on the verge of war. Marib, Ibb and Taiz have all rejected the Houthis' presence. We were going from violence to a Cold War [between political parties], and now it will be back to violence.

    Ameen Abdulkarim, 32, financial adviser, Sanaa
    Ameen Abdulkarim [Al Jazeera]

    The Houthis should have done it before and either taken responsibility or left [Sanaa]. Instead they left us in limbo, destroying the economy. What happened was expected because they had already taken control of the military.

    This was a natural next step because they had gotten a lot of support from the north. Before they were ruling from behind closed doors, and now they are the actual rulers. But Houthis lack experience.

    They have promised a new Yemen, but people want results. It will come down to people's patience to wait on results. What is their [agenda] to deliver results? Elections would be a solution to all of this, but are we ready for elections? The Houthis are happy, they changed everything. Nobody knows what will happen, but the only certain thing is that Yemen will suffer.

    We will depend on our neighbours. All the issues that were there before will continue. You see people caring more now, whether you are Houthi or anti-Houthi, but that doesn’t mean we are Iraq [in terms of sectarian issues]. Yemenis believe in peace.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera


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