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Asharq Al-Awsat
Asharq Al-Awsat
Aden - Waddah Aljaleel

Fearing Houthi Violence, Yemeni Companies Seek Protection from Militia Factions

A picture broadcast by Houthi media from the site of the stampede in Sanaa (AFP)

The Houthi militia used the “hunger stampede” in Sanaa, which killed or injured over 200 poor people, as a justification for a campaign to defame a commercial group and hold it responsible.

However, commercial sources revealed that competition from Houthi factions played a role in the stampede.

The horrific incident occurred at a school in central Sanaa two days before Eid al-Fitr during an event organized by the Al-Kabous commercial group to distribute 5,000 riyals in financial aid to the poor.

Eyewitnesses reported that Houthi militants fired shots to disperse the crowd of impoverished people and prevent the aid distribution, leading to the tragedy.

Commercial sources based in Sanaa say that Yemeni commercial groups are attempting to use competition among Houthi factions to continue their business activities and confront extortion practices.

Sources have confirmed to Asharq Al-Awsat that the Al-Kabous commercial group recently aimed to challenge Houthi factions by publicly gathering and assisting the poor, in contrast to the majority of households and commercial groups that provide financial aid discreetly, hidden from the militias.

Sources report that Al-Kabous is facing Houthi extortion practices and relying on several Houthi faction leaders for protection against other factions’ attempts to nationalize and seize its operations and assets.

Most large and longstanding companies and trade organizations have employed this strategy when faced with Houthi extortion campaigns, sources added.

They aim to align themselves with the more practical and level-headed Houthi factions to gain their backing and safeguard their interests, they explained.

Some of these factions are made up of Houthi families from Sanaa province or those who previously lived in the capital and had ties and influence during the reign of former President Ali Abdullah Saleh.

According to sources, these families hold different views from the Houthi families from Saada, who seek to monopolize commercial and economic activities.

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