Defiant Huthis Seize Yemen Presidential Palace, U.N. Security Council Backs Presidentإقرأ هذا الخبر بالعربية
Defiant Shiite militiamen seized control of Yemen's presidential palace and attacked President Abdrabuh Mansur Hadi's residence Tuesday in what officials said was a bid to overthrow his embattled government.
As the U.N. Security Council began an emergency meeting to condemn the attack and back Hadi, Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said he was "gravely concerned" and called for an immediate halt to the fighting.
Abdul Malik al-Huthi, leader of the militia that bears the name of his late father, was defiant, warning that "all options" were open against Hadi, whom he accused of supporting the "fragmentation" of the country.
He also said his movement was ready to stand up to any measures the Security Council might adopt.
Violence has escalated in the capital, raising fears that Hadi, a key U.S. ally in its fight against al-Qaida, will fall and the country descend into chaos.
Information Minister Nadia Sakkaf said the militia had launched an attack on Hadi's residence in western Sanaa, after witnesses reported clashes in the area.
Hadi was earlier reported to have been in the building meeting with advisers and security officials.
"The Yemeni president is under attack by militiamen who want to overthrow the regime," Sakkaf said on Twitter.
Witnesses said the fighting outside the residence appeared to have subsided after two soldiers were killed.
A military official told Agence France-Presse the militiamen had also seized the presidential palace in southern Sanaa, where Hadi's offices are located, and were "looting its arms depots."
Prominent Huthi member Ali al-Bukhaiti said on Facebook that the fighters had "taken control of the presidential complex."
- 'Ready to face consequences' -
In New York, the Security Council backed Hadi as "the legitimate authority" and said "all parties and political actors in Yemen must stand with" by the government "to keep the country on track to stability and security."
For her part, EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said "all parties must step back immediately from conflict."
But Huthi said "all options are open in this action," and that "no one, the president or anyone else, will be above our measures if they stand to implement a conspiracy against this country."
In a long televised address, he also warned the Security Council that "you will not benefit from any measures you wish to take" against the Huthis.
"We are ready to face the consequences, regardless of what they are."
While calling for a full ceasefire and a return to dialogue, the council did not threaten any sanctions.
In November, it slapped sanctions on two of the militia's commanders, and on ousted president Ali Abdullah Saleh, but not on Huthi.
The fresh unrest shattered a ceasefire agreed after a bloody day Monday that saw the Huthis, who overran Sanaa in September, tighten their grip on the capital.
Militiamen and troops fought pitched battles near the presidential palace and in other parts of Sanaa, leaving at least nine people dead and 67 wounded.
The militia seized an army base overlooking the presidential palace, took control of state media and opened fire on a convoy carrying Prime Minister Khalid Bahah from Hadi's residence.
Bahah escaped to his residence, where he has lived since taking office in October, and it was surrounded by the Huthis late Monday.
Tensions have been running high in Sanaa since Saturday, when the Huthis abducted Hadi's chief of staff, Ahmed Awad bin Mubarak, in an apparent move to extract changes to a draft constitution that he is overseeing.
Mubarak is in charge of a national dialogue set up after Saleh was forced from power in February 2012 following a year of bloody protests.
Saleh has been accused of backing the Huthis, and a source in the presidential guard told AFP that some troops still loyal to the ex-leader had supported the militia on Monday.
- Ally against al-Qaida -
Before his kidnapping, Mubarak had been due to present a draft constitution dividing Yemen into a six-region federation, which the Huthis oppose.
The militants, who hail from the remote north and fought a decade-long war against the government, have rejected the decentralization plan, claiming it divides the country into rich and poor regions.
Since they seized Sanaa, the Huthis have pressed their advance south of the capital, where they have met stiff resistance from Sunnis, including al-Qaida loyalists.
Yemen's branch of the jihadist network, Al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, is considered its most dangerous and claimed responsibility for this month's deadly attack in Paris on French satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo.
Hadi's government has been a key ally of the United States, allowing Washington to carry out repeated drone attacks on al-Qaida militants in its territory.
Just like their brethren in Lebanon, they deny their ultimate goal is to overthrow the government and establish their own heretic state. Agreement after agreement, concession after concession, dialogue after dialogue and then they finally punch the dagger deeper and deeper all under "peaceful" protest. They always are the deprived, the ma7roumin, the underprivileged. In reality they are the criminals, the terrorists, the traitors.
just like you deny the years of torture of syrians, dictatorship in syria, killing and murders of opponents to the syrian regime that you support and denied the syrian people to overthrow it.... now you have isis , so sleep with it , hypocrit too....
Mowaten, Mystic and FT are apologists to anything the Mullah regime in Iran and their sectarian militias do. Another Arab country falls prey to a sectarian militia funded by Iran. Poor Yemen. Its Window of opportunity has almost completely closed down and the incoming battle for control will be by two extremes: that of the Houthis and of Al Qaeda. So yes, thank you Mullahs of Iran for your poisonous schemes in the Arab world and thank you to all their apologists and collaborators.
for some reason this comment was censored.
"always equal to yourself eagleyawn, partial, biased and oriented in the same unique direction: attacking those you call "brethren".
and of course, not a word about the years of slaughters by saudi al qaeda militants against a civilian population, you conveniently forget the terrorists bombings you once cheered, and treat this reaction as if it came out of nowhere.
as FT told you below: you made this bed, now sleep in it, filthy hypocrite"
and you get rid of Al Qaeda by storming the Presidential Palace and overthrow a legitimate president through an armed invasion? You are a martyr in the making
Poor Americans, and their poor puppets falling.
What a bunch of nonsense. Are you so blind as not to realize that if things are not fixed ASAP, Yemen is on the way to no return. That the next phase is an un-ending sectarian war. My God people, are you blinded by dogma and by your loyalties that you cannot see the obvious!!!! Yemen has a chance with the Hadi government. Do you think that the overwhelming Sunni majority will accept an open sectarian Zaidi militia, funded by Iran, to control them!!!
Fanatics! Yes they are. And now the battle in Yemen is increasingly between the fanatics of the Houthis and Al Qaeda. Shame on you for loving this sectarian militia.