SANAA (dpa) – Houthi rebels who effectively control the Yemeni capital Sanaa were Tuesday seen wearing military uniform at many of their checkpoints instead of their usual tribal dress.
A senior Interior Ministry source told dpa that the move – which suggests the Shiite rebels will not be giving up control of the capital soon – resulted from an agreement between the Houthis and Yemeni government.
Authorities had distributed 20,000 military uniforms to the Houthis, the source, who declined to be quoted by name, said.
Houthi politburo member Ali al-Imad told dpa that the group’s fighters were wearing military uniform in line with an agreement with the government to “preserve the symbols of the state.”
A picture purportedly showing a Houthi tribal fighter frisking a Yemeni soldier at a checkpoint was widely shared on social media last week – with some asking what the fighter was searching for, as the soldier had a rifle slung over his shoulder.
Houthi fighters took effective control of Sana’a on September 21 after days of clashes with military units and militias loyal to Sunni extremists and a powerful retired general. Most of the military stayed out of the fight.
Under a UN-brokered agreement signed the same day by the Houthis and President Abd Rabu Mansour Hadi, a consensus prime minister was to be nominated, tasked with forming a partnership government within one month.
Houthi checkpoints in the capital were to be dismantled once the process of forming the government got under way.
No agreement however has yet been reached on a prime ministerial nominee.