Hundreds of thousands rally in a public show of support for ex-president amid tension between his loyalists and Houthis.
The leader of Yemen’s Houthi group has marked with a defiant speech the eve of the third anniversary of the day his fighters stormed into the capital Sanaa.
Appearing on the Houthi-run Al Masirah TV on Wednesday, Abdel-Malek al-Houthi criticised the Saudi-led coalition opposing his fighters, who control large expanses of territory and took Sanaa on what they consider the “September 21 revolution”.
Al-Houthi accused the US, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates of seeking to divide Yemen by working with local groups and the internationally recognised government of Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi to seize control of territory controlled by his fighters.
“The Emiratis are the front for the Americans,” al-Houthi said. “And today they are stealing Yemen’s natural gas, despite the suffering of the Yemeni people.
“There are a lot of islands today which have been handed over by the foreign agents and traitors of this country to the Emiratis, and they made bases on them, some of them shared bases with the Americans.”
On Thursday, hundreds of thousands of Houthi supporters rallied in Sanaa.
Speaking from Sanaa, Hakim Almasmari, editor of the Yemen Post, said that despite the size of the crowd, the absence of Houthi allies such as the party of Ali Abdullah Saleh, the former president, was conspicuous.
“This is a very clear division in Sanaa between the two allies at a time where the Houthis are gathering to show their strength after three years of Saudi-led air strikes,” Almasmari told Al Jazeera.
The Saudi-led coalition launched its air campaign against the Iran-allied Shia Houthi fighters in March 2015 and simultaneously enforced an air and sea blockade of Yemen.
“The Houthi fighters control about 30-40 percent of Yemen’s territories,” Almasmari said.
“They are still powerful on the ground.”
More than 10,000 civilians have been killed in the fighting.
Almasmari said that while it is clear that relations between the Houthi fighters and their allies on the one hand and the Saudi-led coalition on the other are deadlocked, there is no mediation taking place.
“The UN has stalled its efforts, and this is the result of casualties: more chaos and unfortunately more deaths of civilians here in Yemen,” he said.